I just read this short blog post on a clinical social worker’s real mission.
After reading it I thought about the struggles social workers have and with what a person looking for a therapist gets when they choose a social worker.
When you are looking for a therapist you will see all sorts of initials after people’s name.  If you are not in the field you may have no idea what they mean.  Within the field there is a sort of hierarchy of who is “better” based on credentials.
I am an LCSW which means a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  In Illinois, an LCSW has a Masters Degree in Social Work (MSW), at least two years post MSW experience under another LCSW and then passes a national board exam.  I love being a social worker but I know that many people have no idea what that means.
In effort to be taking seriously I think that someone who is a social worker may try to make sure people know they aren’t a caseworker.   A person might say they are a therapist rather than a social worker.  (Though for some of us using the word therapist rather than social worker is a much harder transition.)  I get where that desire to differentiate comes from.  I know I can get frustrated when helping someone with transportation at my dialysis job and someone says “that’s what social workers do, they enjoy it.”  (Yes, that has been said to me.  More than once!  I don’t actually enjoy it.)  The thing is that finding transportation is vital for a dialysis patient because they need to get to dialysis in order to keep living.  (Side note:  If you are ever looking for a volunteer activity or to help someone – consider driving a dialysis patient to and from treatment.) Even though it is vital, I think “I have so many more skills than this.”  I feel guilty thinking that though because part of social work is helping people overcome barriers.
I think it must be about finding some balance.  I enjoy the clinical aspects of therapy but my world is consistent with being a social worker.  I believe there is some need for encouraging social justice.  I believe that are concerns and problems are not just internal but are often a result of larger systems from our relationships, to our families, to our neighborhood, cities, cultures, spiritual system or anything that we are part of a larger structure.  I guess I’ll be both a social worker and a therapist and continue working on better integrating them into one identity.  Just my random thoughts.
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