An Introduction to Use of Self in Field Placement


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"Use of self" metaphor

It's been said that I never metaphor I didn't like ... said by me, but that's another story. When I supervised social work students in my agency (I also ran a weekly seminar for all students, including music and art therapies & rehab), I'd explore "use of self" through comparison with a placenta. A mother's placenta lets through what will nourish, while blocking what might be harmful to the fetus, even if it is harmless to the mother.

As therapists, we don't have a bodily organ for this function (nor does a mother after the birth). We have to decide as we interact what will nourish, what might harm, what is too early to introduce. This is a major function of a self-observing ego, watching over what we say. From asking a question to introducing a topic to self-disclosure, I need to be aware, to know that I'm saying this for the client's benefit, never my own. My needs have other venues to be met in; my time here is fully for the client.

Tony Vazquez more than 2 years ago

Great gift book for social work graduates!

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