In order to be a successful social worker, stay open to opportunities

On last Monday, I discussed my journey of how I decided on social work as a major. This week, I want to share some of the opportunities that I have had during my career.

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I can not honestly say that when I first started working in social work, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my career. I have just been open to whatever opportunities would come my way. There were many people who tried to talk me out of going into social work or the social service field. People told me that I would not make a lot of money and that I would struggle.

Before assuming that someone will struggle in a field or even considering that a person made a bad choice for a career, talk to the person. Ask them questions. Find out what made that person go into that particular field. A lot of times, people choose to insert negativity into someone’s life but we need more encouragers. We need more people who have a sincere interest in others.

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I am glad that I did not allow what those people thought to influence my decision. I have had many opportunities while working as a social worker.

My first job out of college was as a mental health associate. This is a proper name for a direct care staff member in a setting that provided therapeutic treatment to adolescent males who had been abused and abused others. While at this job, I learned how to facilitate group discussions. I was responsible for ensuring that the boys had healthy boundaries with one another. I also participated in the boys’ treatment team meetings. I learned during this job that if I was respectful to these boys, when they were in a crisis, they would not attack me. And, I am grateful to say that I was never physically attacked by any of the boys who I worked with.

My next job was as a foster care and family preservation specialist. I was responsible for teaching skills, attending school meetings, court hearings, etc. This job involved me going into people’s homes. I had to literally meet people where they were. This was the first job that helped me to see that people were an expert on their own situations.

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My next job was providing skills to children and families of children who had been removed from the home or were at risk for being removed from the home. I had less of the court involvement but still had a very important role. While in this role, I was promoted as a supervisor. I learned that people have different ways of getting the job done.

Additionally, I was allowed other leadership opportunities to represent the agency that I worked for. While I was working in this role, I got to experience what it was like to provide therapy on a contract basis. I then moved into a therapy position. I worked with adolescents who were removed from their homes. I provided family therapy, group therapy and individual therapy. As a therapist, I was responsible for helping individuals to experience a sense of normalcy, working through trauma and learning healthy ways to interact with others.

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My job as a therapist in a residential setting helped to prepare me to work in an inpatient psychiatry unit. I learned about mental illness, medications and was able to help people learn to cope with their conditions. This was the first time that I worked with a psychiatrist.

After this position, I was able to work in various inpatient psychiatric settings. I have worked in inpatient psychiatry for the past five and a half years. I enjoy educating individuals and their family members about mental illness. But most of all, I enjoy seeing individuals’ conditions improve.

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The thing that I like the most about being a social worker is that each person who I work with is unique. I am able to meet each person right where they are an create a plan that works for them. I am able to be creative in my approaches.

I do not know what my next job will be as a social worker. But, I have learned to stay open and to be prepared for opportunities.

If you are interested in a career in social work, be open. Don’t be limited by someone else’s opinion on how well you will or wont do while working in the field of social work. Find people who are in the field, have been successful and ask them questions.

The blog post, “In order to be a successful social worker, stay open to opportunities” first appeared at on Monday, March 8, 2021.

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