From so many colleagues and my own inner monologue I have heard variations of the following issue.
When I leave my job, I can’t turn off the caring. When I see others in my community that need help, do I respond? Won’t I burn out if I am a social worker 24/7?
This feeling is as old as the profession itself. Jane Addams describes the overwhelming feeling one has when your eyes are opened to suffering.
“For the following weeks I went about London almost furtively, afraid to look down narrow streets and alleys lest they disclose again this hideous human need and suffering.” ~ Jane Addams (20 Years at Hull House)
Can you relate? At a certain point I adopted the motto that not every good thing is my good thing to do. Otherwise, the work I put onto myself would be infinite. However, I don’t want my care for the community to be contained only in my job. I find that what drew me to Social Work, the belief that we can bring to life a community where everyone has access to well- being, doesn’t stop when I leave work. But compassion fatigue is a real thing. So is not taking care of yourself properly. It’s a tough tightrope to walk.
At the end of the day, I believe each one of us has to find our personal balance on this question. For me, I discovered that caring for others in my free time can actual rejuvenate me- not lead to feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of need. But, there are times I have felt like Jane Addams, afraid to look up and see the suffering in my own community. Because then I know I would feel called to act.
Honestly, I have to answer this question again and again every day. It is not a balance I have mastered. How do you manage this balance? Is this an area you struggle with. Comment or write me – would be honored to hear your thoughts.
There is something about the holidays and the start of the new year that many of us find hopeful. For some Social Workers, we can feel the sharp juxtaposition between this occurance and our experiences day to day with those that have lost hope. That loss of hope becomes even more apparent amidst the hopefulness that surrounds it in this season.
So today I wanted to highlight a fantastic article written by Elizabeth Clark covering 10 important notes about hope for Social Workers.
Read the full article from The New Social Worker Magazine here and make hope a priority for yourself and those you serve.
10 Essentials Social Workers Must Know About Hope
I hope for hope.
Best to you all,
There has been much back and forth in recent days in the US about the concept of sanctuary states or sanctuary cities. The most simple way to describe the concept of a sanctuary city/state is a city or state that has chosen not to use city or state law enforcement resources on those who have not committed a crime, but may be in violation of federal immigration law. Essentially, local and state resources are determined not to be used to enforce federal, civil, immigration law.
As many of my readers know, I practice social work in Oregon. Oregon is one of the oldest sanctuary states, passing the law to enact this status back in 1987. This November, Oregon’s status as a sanctuary state will be challenged by ballot measure 105.
Regardless of what one thinks about immigration law, this measure would have some deep implications for our everyday communities. This would include the fact that one could be stop, detained, or questioned just because they are thought to possibly be undocumented. That is what makes this political issue a social work issue at its heart.
The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living. – NASW Code of Ethics Preamble
In my mind, voting against measure 105 is a step to opposing an “environmental force” that will create “problems in living” for many community members here in Oregon. Therefore, this issue has become professional and I must do what I can to oppose it.
Thoughts? Disagreements? Drop me a line.
Want to support a group that is organizing against this measure? Check out the link below. Oregonians United Against Profiling
Check out the new piece I wrote on the status of the Fair Housing Act and how helping professional can use the act to help vulnerable individuals access and enjoy housing.
Check out the article at Is the Fair Housing Act Failing? It’s in the Social Work Helper, a great online news sign with content relevant to social work.
Let me know what you think and have a great weekend all!