Mindfulness: 10 Lessons in Self-Care for Social Workers

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Beyond self-care

All of these are beautiful suggestions and regular practice can greatly decrease suffering. But, as a long term social worker, yoga therapist and mindfulness meditation instructor, I have found that the majority of stress and burnout experienced by social workers, especially those newer to the field, goes way beyond their individual self-care. Low pay, meager benefits, secondary trauma, compassion fatigue and systemic issues greatly affect the social worker as well. I feel there is a need to overhaul the expectations of the social work workplace structure and environment - allowing more flexibility in schedule, ample "mental health" days, pay grades that match other master-level positions and more realistic caseloads and performance expectations. We need to move away from placing responsibility on the individual social worker and looking more systemically for solutions.
Lastly, I would remove altruism from the list -- social workers usually have the opposite problem and need to practice accepting help and care from others!

AL more than 6 years ago

Organizational accountability

Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment. I believe both are necessary -- individual self-care and systemic change. I hope you'll read this post on organizational accountability and self-care: http://swkr.co/2gFCeGU

SocialWorker.com more than 6 years ago

I agree

I have also practiced as a social worker for over 25 years and I agree that the issue of stress and burnout is best resolved by addressing some of the systemic problems with the occupation.

Caroline Miege more than 6 years ago

Organizational awareness

This is certainly true in child welfare field where state and local policy continues to accumulate administrative functions without streamlining processes and other confining functions that rob workers of valuable time they could be conducting effective family engagement. My last few years in this work, I saw many workers around me either leaving the agency or declining in health. In my nearly ten years in this field I cultivated effective, rich self-care practices and strengthened my capacity to perform evidence-based practices. I was able to stay above the curve until I came up against persistent ethical issues that revolved around not having adequate time--the systemic distractions that rob workers of the vital time they need to engage and support families.

Daniel Seifert more than 4 years ago

100% Agree!

Dear "Beyond Self Care", As a Social Worker for decades, I totally agree. I should be earning $100,000 + for the amount of life wisdom and knowledge in so many areas that I bring to my profession. That is my main complaint of our profession - not monetarily valued enough by our society. And yes, I didn't have time, nor want to "volunteer" in the community when my whole job was already devoted to "helping people." Thank you for your honesty!

Roslyn Jefferson more than 2 years ago

Thank You

I really appreciate the reminder of the benefits of mindfulness. It was well written.

Deslynne Roberts more than 7 years ago

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