Tag Archives: Reflection

Chicken Soup Sunday – Commitment

How am I feeling today? I’m not sure to be honest. The sun is out and shining through my living room window as I write and do laundry. I have had a productive weekend I suppose, in that I was able to tick a few things off my to do list. There is however, the lingering effects of disagreements at work. There is also a lingering satisfaction that I have been able to recognize I need help and seek it out. It’s strange sometimes to have these internal conversations with myself about myself but they help. They contribute to a self-awareness that has, in the past, kept me from focusing too long on the potential of a situation instead of seeing it for what it is and moving on.

I want to open the blinds, stare outside across the road at the people going into the supermarket to shop. I want to watch their faces and body language for the stories they tell. I don’t because opening my blinds means I am unable to see the television but I like that I am back to wanting to engage with the world, even from a distance. For a while there, retreat was my only course of action – or so I felt. I am not in the best of places but I am getting better.

How am I feeling today? I want that to be a question people ask themselves daily; a platform for honesty and permission to be a little selfish. It will be something I will ask myself each morning. It is my commitment to myself so I can keep my commitments to others. I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend. Happy Sunday!

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Posted by on November 9, 2014 in Reflections


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Thoughtful consideration…

I like to keep up to date on the opportunities for Social Workers in the states as I am not completely sold as to whether I am staying or returning home. A couple of weekends ago I was scrolling through some jobs, just having a look at the qualifications and whether or not I met them. Much to my surprise, in terms of my development as a Clinical Social Worker, it was utterly depressing to find out that my time here (6+ years currently, possibly will be as much as 8 when I return home) will quite literally count for nothing.

I take responsibility for this as I made the completely inaccurate assumption that the profession and education was on par with the states AND that all the hoops they made me jump through to prove I was my education was up to scratch meant that I would be on an equivalent level….uh, no.

With a Bachelors Degree in Social Work I would have been qualified to do the job of a Social Worker in the local authority. With a Masters Degree in Social Work that has a clinical focus, I would be qualified to enter the mental health field. And, that is how it is here. If you are looking to continue your Clinical Social Work career (and I think I mentioned this in a previous post) I suggest the following types of roles:

– Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) worker – you’re basically a therapist

– Community Mental Health Teams (usually based in hospitals and falling on the side of “adult” Social Work) – you go out into the community and hospitals to asses people

– Multi-systemic therapy teams – you’re working with high risk youths in short term interventions

– Functional Family Therapy teams – these are relatively new and it appears they are based in and commissioned by local authorities

The worst part of it, I believe, will be making sure you get the clinical supervision you need because I don’t know that the degree they have here for Psychologists or Psychiatrists would qualify. I am positive that the Social Work degree doesn’t, unless you can find a Licensed American Social Worker here that will provide supervision for you.

This isn’t meant to discourage anyone. It is meant to ensure that you are giving your attention and consideration when moving over. You need to make sure you are aware of the rules in your state for maintaining your license so you can source the same type of support while you are here. It is a cautionary tale. I should have given better consideration to where I wanted my career to go before committing myself.

Another piece of advice, if you’re thinking about loan forgiveness, you can only count your time here toward it if you are working for an American company – yes I was heartbroken. I have to say that living here has definitely changed my world view. It has opened my eyes to so many different cultures and ethnicities. It has given me a better understanding of others. It was still a good decision for other reasons….any further moves will have to be planned better, me thinks.

Thanks for riding along!


Posted by on January 27, 2014 in My Practice


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Social Work and the Business of Change

When I was doing my undergraduate degree in Social Work, all of my professors referred to Social Workers as change agents. We were supposed to work with individuals, groups and families to effect positive change. This has always been the motivation for my practice. This has always been the reason I wanted to be a Social Worker. However, as much as we may learn about the process of change, as much as we are told that “we need to meet clients where they are,” I think we have some over inflated, over exaggerated expectations of clients when it comes to change.

Just to revisit it quickly, the stages of change from the Transtheorretical Model (Prochaska, 1977) are pre-contemplation (not ready for or considering change or seeing a need to change), contemplation (recognising the need for change and considering it but not sure), preparation (ready to change and trying to change), action (actively taking steps to change), maintenance (staying on track; maintaining changes that have been made) and relapse (regression to previous stages; falling back into old behaviours). You learn that, as a Social Worker, you have to assess at which stage your client finds himself/herself and actively try to move them through the stages. There are websites that give prompts as to how to support clients at each stage of this process. I think it is important to understand that relapse is part of this process and what is needed is support at this time as well as encouragement to start again, empowering them with the fact that they have done it before.

I think, as practitioners we forget 2 very important facts when working with clients. First, we forget that our clients are human. Second, we forget that we are human. In so doing, we begin to think of our clients as “the other”. I am in no way advocating crossing professional boundaries. I am saying that we need to understand, especially when it comes to change, that life is hard when you are entrenched in a way of living or behaviour that has survived everything else that has come and gone in your life.

Let’s do some self-reflection for a moment. Think about all of your bad habits and consider the following:

          How many times have you tried to change?

          How many times have you failed?

          What worked to help you stop?

          What helped you change the behaviour?

          What hindered you? What were the triggers to this behaviour or habit?

          Did having someone harp on and on about how much you need to change help you at all?

As professionals we have the privilege of knowing that there are numerous tools or techniques out there designed to help us kick bad habits and change behaviour. Our clients may not; or there may be a reason they are not seeking help. It doesn’t help when Lord or Madame Social Worker enter their lives and make them feel even worse for not doing the things that they know they should do. Change is hard. It is made even harder when you have people telling you to make changes and you have no idea where to start.

And I can hear all the Social Workers out there saying “we do the referrals all they have to do is attend the appointments.” Really??? Really??? Most of the problems we deal have been in existence for our clients longer than we have been involved so they are changing an ingrained behaviour. Not to mention the fact that these behaviours or habits may be coping mechanisms. Trust me, I am an emotional eater and an emotional shopper and yes I know I need to change but I just LOVE shoes and carbohydrates!!! So we are asking people to stop doing things that make them feel better at the worst points in their lives without giving them anything with which to replace it. It is a lot more beneficial to teach them more appropriate coping mechanisms alongside the changes. It makes them just a tad more palatable.

When you practice, remember your own experiences with what you are asking of your clients where applicable. Where you do not have the experience, and even where you do, ask them what it is like for them. Find out when the behaviours started and what they mean for the person/family. Find out what else can be used to replace the behaviour that needs to be changed. Find out what the current triggers are because these may be different from what contributed to the start of the behaviour.

We need to work within the client’s exiting life circumstances. I’m not saying be naïve; you need to challenge your clients and their excuses as to why they can’t or aren’t changing. They also need to understand where there are consequences to not changing. What I am saying in we need to get back to the original person-in-environment and strengths based models.

We need to see clients as individuals no matter how many times you have seen a similar set of circumstances or addressed the same issue(s) previously. Every problem is different because every person is different. Every person brings a different set of beliefs and circumstances to your desk. See your clients as people who need help. Some may need more help than others, where you’re not sure, ask.

Change is a process. It doesn’t happen quickly and it doesn’t happen easily. It may even cause more problems. But, as the professional, it is your job to be monitoring the change process and having regular input to address whatever may come up.

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Posted by on July 6, 2013 in Social Work Practice


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