Monday, March 14, 2011

Case Management Personified

A while back Nechakogel posed an intriguing question about what characters social workers see themselves as. What cartoon character or image closely resembled my approach to case management I thought... The first image I thought of was a dam. Clients keep coming, I'm dealing with tough cases, people with harsh histories or circumstances, crises hit, and I need to stay grounded and strong. In control.

And then on some tough days I feel more like the sorcerer's apprentice after a spell gone awry, trying to stop the metaphorical brooms from pouring more water after the room's already flooding. 

When I considered these images along with other cartoon characters, though, I found them mostly limiting because they didn't represent the interactions or relationships I have with clients nor their own strengths, efforts, and struggle. Though I see my work from my perspective to a degree, the work and goals are to a greater deal the clients' goals.* Not to mention, well, picturing myself as a dam? No one person is a dam. (Why did no one tell me I couldn't just do it all alone? Or maybe I just didn't listen...)

After thinking about it more I saw similarities between my case management role and an aspect of Aladdin's Genie. Picture the scene after Aladdin has been transformed into Prince Ali. Genie mingles in the crowd, once talking as a child and once as an adult, speaking with a different accent or talking positively about one of Ali's attributes that would appeal to his listener. In short, using different ways to smoothly connect with whoever he's talking to. To a degree I do this as well, adjusting a little depending on who I talk to. I do this outside of my case management job, but at work it's a particularly valuable skill. The way I talk and approach collaborating with a client with a developmental disbaility is not how I approach a client with schizophrenia. And good rapport helps sustain a good working relationship.

* It's a collaboration sure, but I remember the last time my goals for my client weren't the same as his goals. Ask me how it worked out.


nechakogal said...

Great post. I like the approach you have taken - what image comes to mind that describes your practice and environment? I immediately related to the dam image. These days social work can seem to be doing a lot of containment and control. Hmmm, very astute. I also agree that no one image can sum it up, but it is a useful tool for reflection I think.

Anatolia said...

Thanks for commenting Nechakogal. I enjoyed your post about this topic. It was thought provoking and got me to reflect on my work on a level I didn't before..