As I promised you here is my new post about my first month working as a social worker. I decided to write an article about it because it really has been quite chaotic and filled with new things, so I myself haven’t really gotten the time to just sit and reflect for a bit. This way I can sort of make myself do it, while I am sharing it with you guys as well, kind of a win-win-situation ain’t it?
First I want to start by explaining you what kind of job it is, so that you get a clear picture of the whole thing. The organization is very small, existing out of a team of 8 people. We are mostly educated social workers, or behavioral scientists. The people we work with are children, teens, young adults and/or adults that need help with their daily lives because of a behavioral or mental disorder/problem. To give you an example:
A child with ADHD that has difficulty concentrating, sometimes gets aggressive towards other children, and doesn’t listen to parents when they try and discipline it. We come in, perform an intake and go to the local government for funding. When everything is settled, one of our coaches steps in. The coach visits the child every week for an x amount of hours (x=depending on the intake and what the child needs, it varies between 2 to 8 hours a week). A coaching plan is formulated and the coach, parents and child work together to reach the set goals. After three months the whole thing gets evaluated and adjusted where needed.
I’m the coach in this whole scenario. And it truly has been a wonderful experience thus far! I have studied social work in Amsterdam and after (finally) graduating last year, I was already working a job in another sector. To be honest, my experiences during my study weren’t all successful (in my mind) and so there was a lot of insecurity about my capabilities as a social worker. I thought I was not fit for the job really. And so I just told myself that it was not for me and focused on other things. But this longing to help people, to really serve a purpose instead of just earning some money to live (I really don’t care about that so much) still remained very strong within my heart. I am a firm believer of the idea that everything that is meant for you will eventually come to you, and this is also how I stumbled upon this job.
”I really feel like I had to have my own experience in helping myself first, before I could start helping others. Because I had to go through a lot of things, it took me a little while longer before I was ready to start my purpose of helping others.”
I was just minding my business, working my job which I actually liked, when an old friend contacted me, asking me if I still needed a job as a social worker, because they needed people. The next day I had the job already and it was very surreal. This is how I know it is truly meant for me. Now that I have been working there for almost a month, I can say for certain that this job is really for me. The clients I coach (mostly children between the age of 8 and 17) have similar problems growing up as I had. Therefore I can relate to their way of viewing the world and make them feel understood. I really feel like I had to have my own experience in helping myself first, before I could start helping others. Because I had to go through a lot of things, it took me a little while longer before I was ready to start my purpose of helping others. When you think about it like that, it does make a lot of sense. How can you tell someone else how to tie your shoelaces when you yourself have never tied a shoelace in your life? You need to have a certain amount of experience, of baggage, of wisdom, in order to share it with others.
For me it is a beautiful thing knowing that all that I have been through makes me a better person and also a better professional. My way of viewing the world really comes in helpful in this sort of career. What I do find difficult is keeping my distance. That is something that we heard all the time during our study. But in reality it’s almost impossible to keep your distance, especially when you see a child for 8 hours in the week. I think the connection you build with your client makes it easier to help them reach goals and change their behavior. The thing that I do need to be conscious of all the time is that I feel things, think things, and worry about things. And whenever that’s the case, I can just call my coworkers to vent or ask them for advice. When you’re working in this sector without feeling close and concerned for your clients, I think the career is not for you. This is what makes it that you can do this work: because you care.
That is the last thing I would like to share with you, that I have learned from this first month as a social worker. It is incredibly humbling to give attention to those that need it most. To be the person that listens to them, sees them for who and what they are, and does not judge them for it. These people have been through a lot already and to be able to stand there next to them and empower them, is all I have ever wanted to do. It not only makes them better, but it definitely makes me a better person. Thank you for taking the time to read this post, lots of love from me to you!