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Social Workers

companion

companion

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I wonder if I could ask for everybodies input please.

I am about to begin my intermediate year at university. I have chosen to specialise in Mental Health and am a little apprehensive, but also excited.

What I would like to ask is what do you think would make a good social worker if you had one? That is what abilities or qualities would you like to see in them? For example, listen more, or knowledge.

The reason I ask is that I value people opinion and I want to do the very best I can by as many people as I can. Your views would really help me develop and become a much better person.

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this

Take care

Companion :)
 
D

Dollit

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I think one of the things you have to realise is that theory - which is what you're doing now, and practise - which is what you hope to be doing, and aspirations - projections for the future are often different things.

Learn your theory because when you qualify and you're out there doing the job you will find it vastly different from you imaginings or even your work experience placements.

It's good to want to be the best but you also have to take into account real life. Sometimes you'll have to make hard decisions or be tough and nothing can prepare you for that.

But you can always be sincere - that always goes a long way.
 
companion

companion

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Thank you for the reply Dollit. I appreciate what you say. I do need to add that although I am not qualified, I do have the professional background to understand that I will have to make decisions that may make me question my own abilities. I also know that I will not be able to please everyone, but I would like to do the best that I can and I want to be able to make a positive difference to the peoples lives that I work for.

I have worked in Social Care for a number of years and I did not have the theory to understand why certain things happened or were considered to be best practice. As you say, the theory will support the practical, but I think that the individualised nature of mental illness is what gets missed in any of the theory and often practice. Some theory is universal, but some assumes "one size fits all" - such as attachment theory.

I want to be sincere in what I do, but also be able to recognise that not every theory that I learn will be applied to every person I work for. I am fortunate (if you can look at it like that) to have personal and professional experience of mental illness, so I am able to have some balanced down to earth approach, but I do not want to ever forget or transfer my own experiences on to anyone - I hope that makes sense.

I find peoples own experiences often highlight what can be done differently and I value anyones advice such as your Dollit. It struck a chord with me by saying that I will not be prepared for some of the tough decisions. You are right, and I know that I am also a little too emotionally involved with any of the work I have done in the past, so I will be in the future; is that such a bad thing? I dont mind being compassionate and crying because I have lost a case or because I have "failed" a service-user. If I did not cry or was not affected by the work, then how could I make a difference or empathise with the people I work for?

I have just realised how much I have said here :LOL: . I think Dollit has provoked a positive much needed reflection - thank you.

Take Care

Companion
 
D

Dollit

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What I have to use in my work is a sense of detachment and yes it gets tough and frustrating at times and that's when I tend to swear at the boys. And they take it on the chin. Build up a support network within your job in the same way that you're building up a support network here.

You're going to do well.
 
M

Michael

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I think one of the hardest parts to 'learn' is what is needed by each individual and when.
Sometimes I need a kick up the backside and not 'mollycoddled', and sometimes I just need to know that there is support there if and when I need it. There are of course the other times when I have needed support and have been very reluctant (my wife would say that a whole lot stronger) to acknowledge anything!
I do know from previous work I have done that some people are very good at taking advantage of there 'situation' which I suppose in the long run does not help anyone.
I may be one of the lucky ones in that overall I need guidance and reassurance that I am able to get through things, and by doing it with ever reducing intervention is the way for me.

How you learn what is actually needed for individuals is a very important skill.

I wish you well, and remember what we say to all carers is that you must look after your emotional wellbeing first for we are excellent drains on you.

Best Wishes

Michael
 
companion

companion

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Thank you Michael and Dollit.

I wish there was a simple tool to learn what the individual needs. If I asked the university or my placements team, they would probably say to stick to company/uni policy. I think, other than what Dollit mentioned about making tough decisions, that learning individual needs is going to be one my toughest challenges, because I will always be challenging policy to achieve sincerity and work with individual needs.

With regards to giving people a good keep up the backside, that is something I am good at :LOL:

As I mentioned before, I know my emotional wellbeing will take a lot of knocks, for it is my weakest point. Im resillient enough, otherwise I would not have chosen this profession, but I know my empathy skills can let me down at times, leading me to make emotive decisions, rather than professional. I am lucky that I recognise this, and have the time to adapt.

So far Dollit and Michael you have both given me a great deal of food for thought and I really appreciate it. You have made me identify a few areas for development that I didnt identify throughout my first year at Uni, or my life to date lol.

Thank you once again for taking the time to respond.

Take Care

Companion
 
Ashami

Ashami

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I just thought I'd give my opinion on what makes a good social worker, as I find the question irresistable. I am sure my opinion is controversial but it is coloured by past experience rather than objective pondering...

Anyone who manages to resist sitting in their comfy office drinking endless cups of tea in order to go help someone else would make a better social worker than the average specimen I find in my parts, so therefore the first requisite is 'non tea-drinker' methinks. (She said with more than a hint of sarcasm)
 
R

ramboghettouk

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My experience is social workers have to manage a council lack of funding in social services and the thory doesn't prepare them for that

They use their training basically to find reasons to turn people away or to offer people things knowing they'll turn them down and social services can then say it's covered
 
J

jamesdean

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I agree with the last two posts because like I have said my mhsw killed herself because she didnt sit in the office all day n went out to reach the people to which she had been stronly advised not to do.
 
scottsblue

scottsblue

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i think you have to really like everyone you may come accross, also you shouldnt come accross like you`ve been anoyed by anyone you speak to.

i dont like my phychiastrist one bit, all questions like a strict school teacher and like i`m always doing somthing wrong.

maybe she talks fast i dunno.
 
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companion

companion

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Thank you all very much for your insight so far. I agree that a stereotypical social work image is one of a person that is sat in the office, being paid thousands, and does not seem to do anything productive to support someone. In fact, there are many stereotypes that can be applied to all professions and groups of people.

The media has a great deal of influence over how we perceive social workers to be, and this is why I ask the questions I have. I want to learn to make a difference that is productive, safe, and effective for me and for the people I work for - the service-user.

A lot of social workers and student social workers that I have encountered have a background of using social care organisations such as mental health services themselves. I believe that if someone is to work effectively with a person that has mental health difficulties, a social worker who has personal experience is more equipped than one that only has academic experience.

That said, what is better, someone who has personal experience of mental illness? or someone that has none, but has a first class honours degree?

Jamesdean, I do not want to brush over how your worker committing suicide must have made you feel. I guess, you could advise that a social worker would need just as much support as the people that they work for.

Also, I agree about funding issues. My first placement was horrifically underfunded and I was bashing my head against a brick wall constantly - I had my career threatened before it had begun, because I dared to speak out. So I am aware of those issues, and I certainly would attempt to make sure that anyone that I worked for would not suffer as a result of politics - well I can try.

Scottsblue, what you mention is known as "discourse". It is something that I was learning about last year. It is common in the medical world. A professional such as a psychiatrist or social worker should make sure that they do not use language that is only understood by their peers. So I would say that, if you feel that the psychiatrist makes you feel as you say, then if you feel that you can, you could ask them to not use language that is or appears intimidating - I know this is not easy. I actually wrote about language and discourse and its relationship with power last year and I have published it on my site. If you want the link to the article let me know.

I feel like I have written loads now. I hope it makes sense. I have tried to address what everyone has put so far. It has been so refreshing to have some real perspective. I start uni again tomorrow so am a little aprehensive and excited, so I will use that as my excuse for saying so much :LOL:

Take care and thanks once again

Companion :tea:
 
R

ramboghettouk

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I notice you haven't answered my point, you'll be working for a council, you'll have to do what your told, a social worker degree won't qualify you for any other job and in your work you'll see the reality of goverment retraining schemes
 
companion

companion

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I apologise Ramboghettouk that I did not address your point - it was an oversight.

When I am qualified, I will not necessarily be working for a council, I may choose to be a self-employed social worker. Or, I may choose to work for a voluntary sector organisation - outside coucil control.

Whatever job anyone takes there will always a certain amount of "doing what you are told". However, if you are implying that I would have to do as I am told at the cost of the people that I work for, then I would rethink working for that employer. In the work that I have already done within the social care sector, I have resigned from management positions, because of local authority or capitalistic influence that put the organisation above the needs of the service-user. I would never let "doing what I am told" influence the people who I am responsible for supporting. It is not something that is easy to say, because I have proven this.

To add, I am a mature student, not one with no experience whatsoever; therefore, I am aware of some of the limitations, and I am also aware of the flexibility that a social work qualification entails - it is job specific, but does allow for development and field changes such as going into teaching or politics.

I wish to make a positive difference. I appreciate what you have said Ramboghettouk and will certainly take it on board. However, I do disagree that it is the only job I will ever be able to do once qualified.

Take care

Companion:tea:
 
R

ramboghettouk

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Voluntary organisations are not outside council control thats were they get the funding, theres always the fundholders, self employed your responsible to anyone who pays ans it's not poor needy people who are the ones paying
 
companion

companion

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I appreciate that most (not all) voluntary organisations that employ social workers are funded by the council, but just because a particular council funds an organisation, it does not stop that organisation or an employee of that organisation from challenging or arguing a case. There is flexibility. Also, there are some voluntary organisations that receive no council funding - I have worked for one.

Direct payments would be how my services are commissioned should I choose the self-employed option. This does mean that my wages would be paid by the coucil, but does not mean that I would sacrifice my principles - to suggest so would be insulting. I would also find the language "poor needy people" a little offensive when ascribing that label to the people who commission my services.

I am an individual that is able to make choices and decisions based on my own values and not those a council, organisation, or government imposes on me. Granted, there would be some financial restriction on my role, but that does not mean I cannot challenge them - or atleast try.

I do perceive some anomosity towards social workers in this thread, but what I would ask is to be judged on my own merits and attempts to atleast try and make a postive difference, not judged on the past mistakes or media representations of social workers. Sterotyping offends and upsets regardless of whether it is applied to people with mental health problems, people from ethnic minorities, or social workers.

Take care

Companion
 
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