Dear Social Worker
by Brad Bender
Dear Social Worker,
You live a thankless lifestyle (because I know social work is a lifestyle). And you don’t hear it enough: thank you for your commitment to help me succeed. Thank you for your patience. I appreciate the smile you always bring to my session. I am grateful for the empathy you provide in our interactions. You do an incredible job at making me feel valued as a human and that I matter. Your validation makes me continue to wake up each morning and go about my day with joy.
As a friend once said to me, “Social workers are soldiers of life.” I’m sure that every day can feel like going to battle in your work. It must be so exhausting! While I can’t offer you money or another form of repayment for all that you have done for me, I’m going to ask you to please take a moment to practice some self-compassion. Reflect on what is going right – at your agency, with a client, in your personal life – and cherish those thoughts. It is a natural tendency to focus on what needs to improve, what you are not doing well, who you can serve next, but it’s important to spend some time on ourselves. Take a moment (it does not have to be long) and reflect on what you are grateful for. You consistently remind me to focus on what I’m grateful for because there is evidence-based research showing how it makes us happier and healthier. Remember, the key to doing this exercise is to remain mindful. One way of remaining mindful is by visualizing or re-experiencing whatever it is that you are focusing on. If you think about “conversation with client,” try to re-experience the same feelings you had while conversing with your client. This practice has worked for me, and I know it will work for you, too!
Keep battling on and remember to take a moment for yourself on a regular basis. Again, I do not say it enough, but thank you for all that you do and for making this community a better place!
Brad Bender received a BAA from Central Michigan University and is currently pursuing an MSW (with a concentration in Organizational Community Leadership) at Michigan State University. He is interning at the NASW-Michigan office. His commitment and passion for social justice focuses on the neoliberal impact on social welfare policies, criminal justice reform, and environmental issues. Always looking forward to a new passport stamp, Brad loves to increase his cultural humility in his spare time.