Social work is considered to be a difficult job. A social worker’s role is to provide support to vulnerable families, which is why social work is often called child protection services. It is a long and sometimes daunting pathway into social work. Most people study for a degree in social work before embarking on a Masters in Social Work. An MSW online course, is available from Rutgers, but whatever path you take, here are some things you should know before you start.
The Trust Issue
Many parents who end up under the umbrella of social services are highly distrustful. They may have had bad experiences with authority figures and learned over the years that people in authority are not to be trusted. It is hard to foster trust when your clients are scared and embarrassed about their perceived failings as parents. Your relationship with clients is not an equal one, but by being kind, respectful and empathetic, you can build trust – and the more trust there is, the more you can help your clients.
You Must Listen
Listening is a key skill for a social worker. Unless you really listen to your clients, you will not be able to help them. You might think you know best, but consider the fact that your clients have had experiences you know nothing about. Listen to them and learn from them. If you do not listen, you don’t stand a chance of building a relationship based on mutual trust.
Every Situation is Unique
Just because certain scenarios are often repeated, it doesn’t mean two similar situations are the same. Yes, you may have two families where the parents abuse alcohol or drugs, but the background to the issues could be completely different. We are all unique, so treat every case you deal with as a blank page. Look and listen until you fully understand your clients and their motivations.
Hope makes the world go around. It can be hard to find compassion for a person who has neglected their child, but everyone has a story and you have to find it in your heart to help them find a way forward. Punishing a person for their wrongs won’t change their behavior, whereas offering them hope that there is a different way to live their life will help them make the necessary changes.
Caring is Compulsory
The day you stop caring about your clients is the day you need to get out of social work. Your clients need to know that you care about what happens to them. This doesn’t mean that there should be no boundaries. Rather, showing the client that you care enough to want to help them is what matters. If you believe in them, they will believe in you.
Being a social worker is challenging, stressful, and occasionally very traumatic. However, on the other side of the coin, it is also a tremendously rewarding job where no two days are the same. Do you have what it takes?