Are You Sure?

So the first lesson is, Are you sure? Are you really sure that you want to be? The first aspect of this is our usual Social Work ends. Now, the reason I’m starting off with this question is that so many people I’ve interviewed, who are applicants for a social work degree program, have really struggled to to any real understanding of what social work is. And I’ve wondered whether they don’t have that understanding. Or they do have that understanding and that you’re not very good at explaining it. So one important thing right from the start is, you have to be clear what social work is all about. It isn’t about just generally helping people. It isn’t about running errands people, it isn’t just about being a helpful kind person, there may be elements of the things coming into social work from time to time, but it’s much more complex than that. So make sure that you’ve got a good understanding of social work, if you know a social worker or to then talk to them find out their understanding what’s actually involved in social work. If you don’t know anything, social workers, then read up on the subject, and find some texts that will help to give you a picture of water actually involved. But the term social work is often used very broadly by people so that people doing charity work in a working in an art shop as a volunteer, for example, we’ll call it social work. But that’s not really what it’s done. That’s not the type of thing that’s done by professional, professional social workers. So before we go any further, make sure that you’re very clear about what is social work, what you understand by it. And then once you’ve got that clear picture, if you’re still happy that this is the career for you, and make sure you’re able to explain that because there’s a very good chance, you will be called upon at some point to explain your understanding of social work at an interview, for example, if you apply to a social work program, so the next issue is, are you prepared for the challenges involved. And there are a lot of challenges, either physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. So let’s just think for a moment about what we mean by some of these issues, we have to recognize that social work is hard work, it’s a very demanding job. It’s far from easy in any respect, really. And one of the ways in which it’s demanding is it’s physically demanding. Now, of course, it’s not like working as a laborer or as a miner, or anything like that. But there’s a lot of direct physical work. But just the sheer intensity of the work can be very physically draining. So we have to be prepared to put that back into it as it were, we have to be prepared if we’re going to do a good job, but social workers have the energy to keep us going to recognize that it’s quite physically demanding. It’s also quite mentally demanding in the sense that there’s a lot of thinking involved. It’s not simply following instructions. It’s not simply following a set pattern of working, we deal with very complex issues in social work. In fact, in the laws of stuff I’ve written about social work, I’ve talked about what I call managing complexity. Now, this is a big part of social work, it’s not simple and straightforward. If the issues were simple and straightforward, they wouldn’t be coming good social worker would be somebody else, dealing with those issues. By the time it gets to a qualified social worker, the chances are, it’s quite a difficult, demanding complex issue. So we have to have a good basis of understanding which is why there are professional qualifications in social work degree and master’s level, because we need that sort of knowledge base to deal with the complexities involved. So we need to be able to think we need to be able to analyze to look critically up situations and make sense of complexities involved. And that, of course, is quite demanding. It’s tough work. So it’s not just physically demanding but also mentally demanding. We also have to recognize that it’s time to can also be emotionally demanding. We will often be dealing with people who are distressed, who are in crisis. They may be grieving or traumatized, and dealing with difficult challenges in their life, we may be working with people who’ve been abused and exploited, who are in what we regardless dreadful circumstances. And that can be tough to know can be challenging, of course, it’s more challenging than them, is for us. But to have to work with people on a day to day basis in circumstances means we have to be emotionally prepared for that. These days, there’s a lot of talk about emotional resilience. And that’s partly what it’s about, is being able to manage emotional issues with human beings. So of course, we will be affected to a certain extent by other people’s distress. But we have to be able to make sure that we don’t allow the intensity of feeling for for wellness, because if we do not confuse people, so we have to be able to handle the emotional side of things, we have to get balanced between not allowing the emotions to overwhelm us on the one extreme, and the other extreme, not become cynical, and heartless and hard hearted. Getting that healthy balance is a really important part of this idea of emotional resilience. So physically demanding, mentally demanding, emotionally demanding, we can also be spiritually demanding. Now, when I talk about spirituality, I don’t necessarily mean about religion, because as I say, it really is just one form of spirituality, religion, in a sense, it’s the way many people access spirituality. But of course, we all have spiritual needs, we all have a need for a sense of spiritual fulfillment, whether we’re religious or not. And as I say, this is an important part of social work, so that we have to engage with complex issues about meaning, purpose, direction, values, and so on. And many people don’t like to wrestle to choose, they don’t like to tackle them, they want to just simply get on with their lives, they find anything of that nature, a bit unsettling. Now, that’s fine, if that’s what they want to do. But in social work, we don’t have that opportunity, we have to be able to be prepared basically, to deal with some of the challenges involved in life. Now, if that’s what people want to do, that’s fine, that’s fine for them bring social work, we have to be prepared to face up to some difficult challenging issues. For example, facing up to death, people will, many people at least will not want to face up with that to pretend they’re immortal. But if you’re working with somebody who is for example, terminally ill, and we have to be prepared to face up to those issues. So physically demanding, mentally demanding, emotionally demanding, and spiritually demanding, these are important elements. So if you are not a fairly robust person, if you know hardy person, then you have to consider these issues very carefully. Because, as I often put it to people in the past, social work isn’t for the faint hearted. One of the great advantages of social work. One of the great attractions, if you like, is that it’s challenging work. If you want something simple, straightforward, and demanding. Social Work is not the way forward social workers for people who enjoy a challenge are prepared to roll their sleeves up and do difficult and demanding work, because it’s important, because we can make such a positive difference to people’s lives, particularly people when they’re struggling when they find in life so difficult, perhaps in a number of different ways. So overall, and social work is very challenging occupation. Are you sure you want to take on those demands? You have to be clear about that. Of course, you should get support, you should be part of a support team with supportive management. That’s how it should work. You’re not going to be alone in that or at least you shouldn’t be alone in nets, but it would be naive not to recognize the demanding and challenging work, but also very rewarding and very worthwhile work. So that’s lesson one for you. It’s about Are you sure. Are you sure what social workers are you prepared to rise to the challenges involved, to do the learning that is necessary to be well equipped to handle these different demands? some challenges if you feel that you are and move on to lesson two, but if you’re still not sure, perhaps you need to talk to one or two other people who know you well, who are aware of you and what you’re capable of, to see whether you do I really want to proceed with a career in social work. So thank you for your attention and hopefully see you in lesson two.