The Ins & Outs of Social Work

What Every Social Worker Needs to Know

You’re ready to take the next step and pursue your master’s in social work online degree. You’ll be out in the field making a difference for others before you know it. Here are a few things to remember as you prepare for your career along this challenging and rewarding path:

  • No one plans to be in the perilous situation where you find them. No one hopes to be abused or wishes to be mentally ill. No one wants to be cold, hungry, and out of work. However, if this is their fate, your job is to provide compassionate care and professional service without judgment. You are one of the best things that have happened to this person in recent times. Understand that and respect your role as a helper and healer.
  • Every person is different. While you may have clients with similar problems, the way they are each experiencing their life circumstances is unique. No two cases are ever the same, no matter how much they look alike on the surface. Each person has his or her own story that needs to be uncovered.
  • You are there to listen first, and counsel second. Your clients might be too embarrassed or scared to speak at the outset, but they must be able to tell their own story without anyone filling in the blanks for them. You should also be prepared for less-than-honest answers to your questions. When someone has been hiding what they feel is a dirty secret, it’s hard to come clean.
  • Don’t take your clients behavior personally. They may lie to you, yell at you, or swear at you. It’s not you they are angry with; it’s the situation. Stay calm and be patient. Remind your clients that you do care and are here to help them, no matter how helpless – or hopeless – they may think their lives have become.
  • Turn the conversation around. Ask your clients what they like, what they enjoy, and what they do well. Help them understand that life still holds promise for them; that whatever personal failure they are coping with now is only temporary. Things can get better and be pleasurable again.
  • Recognize every success, no matter how small. Your encouragement can go a long way in supporting positive habits and behaviors. A glimmer of hope and light in an otherwise dark place can make all the difference in your clients’ attempts to do even better tomorrow.

Are you ready to help individuals that need your assistance to better their lives? Learn how through coursework at the University of New England’s Online MSW program.

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