A Letter to Social Workers for the New Year

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Impressive article

Very impressive thoughts and useful advice within this post! Thanks for sharing. I read your article with huge interest. And, I appreciate your words.

Khusbu Oli more than 2 years ago

A welcome balm in the midst of social work chaos

Thank you thank you thank you. I am a relatively new social worker, having graduated with my MSW in 2014. As I read your article, I cried: with relief that everything you said made me feel less alone. With anger at how we are asked to do more with less, and how difficult it is to prioritize my own well being while working in this profession. I am strongly considering leaving social work, as I've realized my values, and the values and demands of many of our work environments, are in total conflict a lot of the time. My health is not worth endangering, and I am becoming disenchanted with the profession. I am not even signing my real name to this comment, as I was slapped on the wrist last year by my employer for sharing an article on Facebook that criticized employers who do not support self-care.

Teal more than 5 years ago

Tolerate the chance of disappointing someone to get clear with yourself.

I really appreciate advice from seasoned social workers. As a novice in my new foster care case manager position, I had to come to terms with a lot of truths. I will always make mistakes. There is only so much I can complete in the course of a day. I will never be finished with all of my tasks. I cannot take the frustrations of clients or the comments of co-workers personally. My uniqueness is not a deficit, but an asset. I cannot allow this job to negatively impact my health, etc. I will continue to work at self care and making peace with my job. Thank you for your wisdom as we continue to serve our communities.

Tiffany Thompson, MSW, CSW more than 5 years ago

Thank you!

I can't tell you how ironic that this popped up in my email and I hit read, taking me to linkedin!! I rarely do that. I literally follow the crash and burn at the end of every week, and on Sundays feel better, so over schedule myself with the ill guided belief my tank will stay full. So validating and a definite reminder to make changes this year to be mindful of my warning signs that I need a break or some self care. I laughed at the cancelling appts. I do it all the time, putting a meeting or client above my own appts. Thank you for the eye opener and the reminder I'm not alone in compassion fatigue!!! You have spurred me to set some new personal goals focused on just me!! I was certainly meant to see this tonight!!! Thanks again! Beautifully written and ohhh sooo true. May you have a blessed and more balanced new year!

Michelle Childs-Healy more than 5 years ago

Needed This

I have printed this article and will re-read daily for at least of all January - or until I get it through to my brain and heart. Self-care is paramount, or else I'm no good to anyone else. My deepest thanks for writing these words down.

Bibbue more than 5 years ago

Thank you

I needed this, especially the reminder that the system is broken, not me.

Tana Bentley more than 5 years ago


Thank you for this, I needed this desperately.

DJ more than 5 years ago

Thank you.

Thank you for this beautiful, honest article, Danna. I've shared it with all my colleagues.

Tina more than 5 years ago


This article while well written and right is just a dream for many of us. Our jobs and supervisors tell us to make sure we take care of ourselves while asking for us to click our ruby slippers, wave a wand and give a pint of blood. We did a self care excercise as a group a few months ago. I sat with 4 other LMSWs who I either interned with or helped when they were interns. Every one of us scored that we were burned out and overcooked. We have only been at our agency 2 to 3 years. Two of the group are going back to school to get away from social work. I look for a new job nearly every day but without an LCSW I am pretty limited. Anway, I do appreciate your insight and love that your utilise animals for self care. I would be lost without my pets.

C. more than 5 years ago

So true...

C, you are so right; I hate that we are seemingly caught in the impossible situation of trying to save the world, while barely surviving ourselves. I, too, always seem to find myself looking for a new/better position and am limited by my lack of credentialing — which takes time and money I never seem to have. I pray that you, and others in our situation, can find and utilize the missing pieces that will make 2018 a better, more fulfilling year. Best wishes...

Jacque more than 5 years ago


I actually resonate with you and Dr. Danna this is perfectly clinical thanks for the good work

Paul Ngoma- MSW more than 5 years ago

Great reminders

This is a great message for me right now!!!! I will re-read it until it really sinks in and becomes part of my daily routine. Thank you so much!!!

Lynne more than 5 years ago


In more than one way we always ignore or needs and fight for the needs of others. Thanks for the reminder that we should be whole HOLISTICALLY to be good at our jobs. The system more than all else is BROKEN and it creates a greater difficulty for us, but stay STRONG SOCIAL WORKERS, we can make it.

Kere more than 5 years ago


As a newly licensed social worker, this article is great guidance for survival in the field/profession.

Penelope Jackson Johnson more than 5 years ago

Social Work in the New Year

Thank you for your candid essay. I am a clinical social worker and supervisor and try to teach as well as model self-care. Maintaining boundaries with clients and also with regard to job duties remains a key challenge for many social workers. A few years ago I attended an NASW conference where the theme was "Social Workers as Superheroes." I feel this mantra does a disservice to social workers, our profession, and to our clients (especially as we endeavor to cultivate a partnership with our clients).
Viewing social workers as superheroes trivializes and diminishes the specialized methods and approaches that we utilize as clinical social workers to address problems on both the micro and macro level. We are highly trained professionals, not magicians, miracle workers, or superpowers. This is a wonderful article that I will be discussing in weekly supervision. Blessings for 2018 ...

Donna Tessitore more than 5 years ago

Fantastic article

Danna, Reading this article was a good way to start the new year. It's easy for us to ignore our own needs so that we can do "one more thing." We can't save the world, period. And we can't help anyone if we are falling apart ourselves. Your comment about emails not being emergencies hit home, as did the one about missing your own appointments. Felt like a personal call to action for myself. Will schedule the dental and optometry appointments that are years overdue this morning.
Thanks for sharing!

Carl more than 5 years ago

Practice not being the slave

We are a far older profession in society than ever acknowledged. We network, find solutions, do not allow your service to become a billing clerk for a faceless corporation. We are Mavericks and our insight is meant to help humanity. Organize against the politics of today! Seek goals agreed with the client for their empowerment! Seek legal assistance to fight wrong and to make it right!

Tom Lewis, retired micro, mezzo, macro, global generalist more than 5 years ago


Thank you so much. I was feeling anxious yesterday about new year and work responsibilities. I needed this!

ginny Wilson more than 5 years ago

Great guidance

Happy 2018- this article has set me up for a positive start back at work- thank you

Angela more than 5 years ago

Thank you

I needed this reminder today. Happy new year and I will be sharing with all my social work friends.

Colleen more than 5 years ago

happy 2018

thank you for such a wonderful article it has place more realistic perspective into my new year

Margoth Alvardo more than 5 years ago

About Real World CSW

Dr. Danna Bodenheimer is the author of Real World Clinical Social Work: Find Your Voice and Find Your Way and On Clinical Social Work: Meditations and Truths From the Field. She shares practice wisdom with new clinicians.