Social Workers: Claim Your True Identity

Thoughtful business woman sitting on her desk at the office
The community at large knows very little about the work social workers perform on a daily basis. Much of what people think of the social work profession is framed by limited understanding, assumptions and negative news. Social workers can and should provide clarity regarding our work and the positive outcomes we provide.

This is a real conversation with my 14 year old daughter. She has had little exposure to my work as a therapist for people with mental illness or emotional distress.

Mommy: I am going to my office now, I will see you later.
Daughter: Why are you taking that box of tissue?
Mommy: Sometimes people cry when they are in my office.
Daughter (with surprise and amazement): You are like a real therapist!!!
Mommy (somewhat taken aback): Yes, I am like a real therapist.
I closed the door, smiling, and then I reopened the door saying “I am a real therapist!”

It occurred to me that my daughter knows of my work in the capacity of school social worker. Her understanding of my work as a school social worker has been framed and reinforced by her teachers and me. She has seen me in the schools working with staff and knows that I go on home visits. She understands that I will not share information regarding work done for or on behalf of students and families.

Here is a R.E.A.L. solution social workers can use to communicate our work. Create a one sentence introduction to use when asked what you do. Include your title, your target population and the outcome you provide.

Start with your title if you like – Clinical Social Worker

Add your target population – recently divorced women

Explain the outcome – build confidence in their ability to live single

Your statement becomes – I am a clinical social worker who helps recently divorced women build confidence in their ability to live as singles.

I would love to hear from you. You may join the conversation by commenting on this post on our Facebook fan page REAL Social Workers Online Magazine or by joining the “Social” Social Workers Project. You may also contact me directly on Twitter @Marcyline #LCSW15

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