Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why it's Sometimes Hard to Relate to Non-Social Workers

I don't think it's uncommon for professionals in a given field to find it easier to relate to one another rather than to outsiders. Insiders understand better challenges and frustrations of their work. For an insider the job is not necessarily idealized or reviled (burnout put aside) as it may be from the outside. Social work may bring out intense reactions from non social worky people (i.e. heroic figure or baby snatcher).

It is easy to lose yourself in conversation with social workers or case managers and talk about work. For you and them the system is fairly familiar (i.e. public aid or social security). They know the terminology. Venting with a fellow professional will not need a big set up. They tend to get it. They have similar challenges in working with providers, both state/city or even other providers. It is easier to talk about difficulties in working with clients. It may be easier to talk about how the system needs an overhaul.. Even if the social worker you are talking to may have a different opinion.

And as far as challenging situations go, social workers are more likely to understand my situation as a case manager who works with people from tough backgrounds who have fixed incomes, see their daily struggles and how lack of options detrimentally affect their lives, and know that in a lot of ways I'm limited in how I'm able to support them. And social workers want to understand the big picture, how the US social system/policies or lack of them may perpetuate poverty and discrimination in certain ways.

Another aspect that keeps drawing me to social work is professionals' awareness of the fact people operate within environments, not vacuums. Family, socio economic background, one's background are a few factors that influence a person's choices. How do you relate to fellow social workers as a social worker or someone outside the field?


Blubtrflygrl said...

Welcome back!!! I am always so excited to meet other social workers, both on and off the web. We are a special breed.

I am always learning and inspired by many of my social work colleagues.

They help fill my gaps in the systems I come across on a daily basis. Even if "my" gap is just a vent about lack of support for our clients and especially for overselves ;).

It helps because more and more, I feel like social workers are few and far between.

Most of my daily interactions are not with social workers anymore, at least in my day to day professional life.

Anatolia said...

I appreciate you following my site, Blubtrflygrl, and thank you for your comments! I agree, I am always learning and look for inspiration and support in my social work colleagues, in person, online, any medium.

I'm gonna catch up on your blog!