Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sticking Out a Case Management Job...

I've been at this job for almost four years. Some perks from having spent all this time in my case management job:

Reaching optimal level of trust and comfort with clients.
I probably felt this way around my second year, specifically with many of my clients who I had worked with from when I started. Trust was cemented quite well in most cases and we interacted smoothly. Some of this comes from sheer time of knowing them -- that psychological term that familiarity breeds liking. It also comes from continuing to learn more about a client and from having worked with them through concerns or crises. After three and half years I can get away with being more direct with them or calling them out on things. I am better able to expect how our interactions will play out or see patterns in their behavior (I did get good advice not to get too comfortable with clients -- there's still a professional distance that I need to keep).

On a related note, it's easier to tell clients (particularly ones who ask often) 'no' after working with them for several years and knowing exactly what my agency has been able to help them with, as well as knowing their financial situation well. I tend to believe that even if I haven't been able to give clients frequent goods in terms of gift cards I worked hard for many them in other ways and most of them know it.
I've started seeing some clients finally be eligible to apply for age-related housing programs or benefits because they've hit the right age. Alternatively some clients have finally gotten to the top of the waiting list for more affordable housing

Getting into a rhythm. Csikszentmihalyi's flow. Getting immersed in what I'm doing and sensing a natural rhythm from one task to another. Meeting with clients, making calls, an email to a provider, off to a home visit. I know I won't get done everything I need to by the end of the day because I am always 20 seconds away from hearing about something else that needs to get done, preferably now. But I'm here for the day to keep it going.

What's made me stick around? I enjoy what I do, I enjoy working with my clients, understand my limitations and am continuing to learn how to deal with burnout. Important too is knowing I have a team that has my back and that generally staff at Empoder is incredibly supportive. I wish this was better understood in social services because clients benefit immensely from working with the same staff* for at least two years.

* Though if you want to be snickery, I suppose it depends on who staff is too.

Also see A Few Numbers from the Past Three Years

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