Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What makes a Social Worker?

I have a confession to make: I am not a social worker.

That is, I don’t have a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or a Masters of Social Work (MSW). I’m not even a registered Social Service Worker, which is a two year diploma.

This does not stop my clients, or even friends and family from referring to me as a social worker.

I did go to school. One year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts (dropped out) and a diploma in Assaulted Women and Children’s Counselling and Advocacy (AWCCA). It’s an awkwardly titled and unique program, but I learned more there than in any other school I’ve attended my whole life. And it is in the Community Services department.

I believe in a recovery model of mental health work. Recovery is a word I’ve heard kicked around in mental health departments for a long time, but a lot of the time it seemed to be more of vague notion of an ideal rather than an actual working philosophy or model. It’s only been in the past year or so that I have really learned how the concept of recovery can be used to help clients and improve the work that I do.

I took to the recovery model very quickly, because it jives well with my feminist and anti-oppression perspective. These are things I learned in the good ol’ AWCCA, as well as my life experiences. 

Most of the time, I feel pretty well prepared to handle the work I do. I attribute this to my training, but also to my ‘lived experience’ - the things you don’t get out of a book. The recovery model values this highly. It emphasizes the importance of lived experience and in particular peer-support in doing mental health work.

Meanwhile, the social work sector seems to be headed for increased professionalization. I don’t really have numbers to back this up, but I have certainly noticed it from my constant perusing of job postings. More and more jobs are requiring BSW’s and even MSW’s for community work that has often been done by people like me. While I strongly believe that further education is a good thing, I do question whether this trend can be congruent with the recovery model.

I also would never want to disrespect or devalue the years of effort and hard work that others have put into their professional designations. Goodness knows I was proud when I graduated my program (with honours thankyouverymuch) but is completing a two or four or five year degree the only way to be a Social Worker?

More to come in a new blog series I am going to call Recovery 101.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thursday Morning Interrupted

I start most of my Thursdays in the same way.  I have a standing appointment with a long time client at 9:00.  Since my work day actually starts at 8:30, I usually pull up into a local parking lot, and drink tea from my thermos while I remotely check my voicemail and read emails on my blackberry.  At about 5 to 9 I drive on over to the client's building and we usually meet for the full hour.  This particular client likes to share, and always has lots to talk about.

The other day I followed said routine.  At about 5 to 9 I realized that I kinda needed to pee, but didn't have time to get to the McDonalds down the street (my preferred pit-stop location.  I won't eat there, but their bathrooms sure are nice and clean!) so not thinking much of it I went on to my meeting. 

As my client is launching into his weekly update, all I can think about is my need for the loo.  It's getting worse by the minute.  I've never used the toilet in a client's home (just my personal philosophy) and I'm not about to start in this particular one.  My client is extremely nice, but not the best housekeeper.  And let's just say that over the years this client has related many a charming tale about various bathroom "misses" (I'll leave that to the imagination).  Only 20 minutes into our appointment as I'm trying desperately not to wriggle and fidget, I had to make some really lame excuse - I'm sorry I have to cut this short today, I've over booked myself - and got out of there! 

Waiting for the elevator was agony.  As I got to the ground and dashed for my car, I quickly tried to come up with my best plan considering urgency/need to avoid any embarrassment.  In full on wiggle mode in the car, I drove down the street to my mother's house, as it's mercifully nearby.  I totally made it, and basked in the glory of this success for a few minutes before carrying on with my day.

This is remarkable only because how is this the first time ever this has happened?  I do the same bloody thing every week?!?  I guess I should be grateful, and just hope it never happens again.

Friday, November 18, 2011

This Week Sucks Because....(drumroll please)

1. I have only completed 2 out of 9 assessments that are due shortly (usually we only have 1 a week)
2. AM is away so I'm lonely and looking after kiddo by myself
3. I've got a vicious head cold
4. It's cold outside (there was snow yesterday)
5. I haven't written any of my notes for this week yet, and still have some from last week to input
6. I can't even say TGIF because I am going to have to work from home this weekend to catch up
7. I also have to survive taking a car load of obnoxious noisy excited kids to the Santa Claus parade


Thank you, internet, for being there for me.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

So, it's November...

and I have to apologize for being a little neglectful of the blog lately.  Some changes at work have made my schedule and stress level a little bit more intense that usual, which tends to take away from blog time.  I have some ideas that I am formulating for posts, so I'm trying to make note of them until I can actually write!

I'm looking to update my blogroll, so if you have a blog of your own or one you really like, leave a note in the comments and I'd love to check them out.

Also, can I just say how much I'm enjoying this show Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Any opportunity to poke fun  at psychiatrists...