How do social workers define ‘HELP.’


During my initial supervision as a social worker, a psychologist questioned my fondness for being a therapist. I responded by saying that I enjoy “helping people.” However, the psychologist deemed my response “nebulous,” asking me to expound on my meaning.

Despite the psychologist’s attempt to delve deeper into my answer, I still felt uneasy about their response. In my perspective, social work entails responding to questions in people’s lives without the certainty of finding a clear resolution.

Social workers employ their intuition to navigate through the unknown. When knowledge and experience fall short, their instincts drive their treatment. They create solutions for individuals when there are no answers. Social workers delve into complex thoughts and emotions.

Being in tune with these emotions and thoughts is critical to social work practice. Social workers’ instincts are visceral and can penetrate through surface-level facts and logic. They operate in a realm where problems are transformed, sometimes through the chaos and other times through reason. It is essential to avoid the glory of being seen as the “miracle worker” and focus on the reality of the sometimes-thankless work.

In addition to facing challenges, social workers must accept death and failure. They must have a pragmatic outlook and be bold and spontaneous when necessary. Social workers must have confidence in the face of uncertainty.

The language and behavior of social workers provide space for their clients to take their next steps. As a social worker, setting the standard and creating trust with clients is vital.

Social workers must trust their instincts as they teach their clients to trust themselves. Trusting one’s instincts is crucial, especially when dealing with questions without straightforward answers.

The psychologist who asked me about being a social worker and therapist was primarily focused on the managerial level of therapy. Social work goes beyond just therapy. Many social workers are case managers or engage in macro-level social work, such as community consultation or administrative roles in non-profits.

Psychology has existed longer than social work and has established itself in academia. The psychologist may have misunderstood the nature of social work in terms of clinical supervision.

Although “helping” may be specific to each person, the act of helping is clear. Helping someone, whether a family, child, or adult, is one of the most rewarding experiences amidst a world of competition, violence, and tragedy. Helping others is the core of social work and needs to continue to be a staple in our world.

Social workers wake up every morning, hoping that their words will uplift someone and improve the quality of their life in some capacity. This act brings joy and drives them forward. It challenges social workers to further develop their skills and improve their craft.

The relationship between social work and psychotherapy remains misunderstood. Social workers do not enter the profession solely to become therapists; they do not do it for money. Students enter the profession to gain a “bio-psycho-social-spiritual” lens that goes beyond a single discourse scope.

Social work is one of the first interdisciplinary discourses. Unfortunately, most social workers have to work other jobs to support their thankless, never-ending work. Nonetheless, social workers continue to support people through desperate times, instilling inspiration and grace with their helping hands. As a helping profession, social workers take pride in seeing individuals better themselves. To all helping professionals, keep your heads up and keep up the excellent work.

Categories: PROSUMER

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