Initially, I believed that social workers are usually engaged in lone work activities, meet clients, accomplish assignments, and manage risks. I also thought that these individuals were not actively involved in the decision-making process of the use of resources to improve lives. It is assumed that social workers are more prone to mistakes compared to professionals in other disciplines (Legood et al., 2016). As such, my assertions regarding social workers’ susceptibility to mistakes were defined by the media. Which was quick to judge mistakes of social workers in instances of tragedies.
Undeniably, despite social workers making sound decisions meant to protect the vulnerable members of the society, the social work profession has largely remained invisible in the public domain. I think that social work practice has failed to attract recognition because the profession lacks a strong public voice. Per Legood et al. (2016), social workers lack the public support that is necessary to balance out the negative perceptions publicized by the media. In other words, in the past, activities of social workers went unnoticed consistently because the professional was considerably young. In my view, social work profession has continued to suffer due to lack of concerted efforts to shine light on the practice. The media made me strongly believe that social work practice made little contribution to society. Nevertheless, I came to realize that the media failed to objectively and honestly report the valuable role social workers played in community to protect children and other vulnerable members hence the image of the profession that the media portrayed was flawed.
Examining the public’s perception of social work practice is important in polarizing social work. Indeed, social workers cannot fulfill their responsibilities if the public is uninformed, confused, and hostile towards the profession. Osmanaga (2019) posits that the public’s support is essential in supporting the social work profession because if the public support falls, the profession also declines. I believe that negative consequences could arise if there is negative perception about the profession. For example, negative perceptions can hurt the credibility of social workers and affect how the population access services. As such, the public’s perception of the professional ought to be positive.
Social work involves child protection, though there is considerable confusion regarding the multifaceted role of social workers in the society. Per Osmanaga (2019), the public still claim that social work takes away children from families thus impairing their (children) social lives. Osmanaga (2019) states that the majority of the people have failed to recognize the gallant role of social work in helping to protect children who are at risk. Indeed, I have interacted with people who do not understand that the role of a social worker is to do everything possible to promote the welfare of a child, even if it means taking him or her away from his or her family. The mentioned perspectives are ignorant because social workers protect children by making recommendations to courts and child protection agencies to safeguard children whose safety has been compromised.
The public also has a long-standing perception that all social workers are women. As revealed by Osmanaga (2019), the public believes that social work is a female-oriented profession, a perception that is reinforced by the fact that many practicing social workers are women. Additionally, Davidson (2016) posits while men do not mind joining the profession, they desire the high-ranking positions, such as supervisors and managers. I believe the public is justified to associate social work to women because the number of men who pursue the professional is lower compared to women, but I do not believe that it is set aside for women. Indeed, the perception that it is a career for women should be discouraged because both men and women have a lot to contribute to the profession. For example, male children who are at risk may be more willing to open up to male social workers as opposed to the female ones, hence the male social workers should be available.
In my local community in Canada, social work practice supports child protection by managing data about parents who experience difficulty in parenting. In the mentioned context, social workers impart parenting skills and train parents on how to develop appropriate tenets of discipline in dealing with children. Moreover, in my local region, excessive consumption of alcohol is a major problem. I have witnessed the social ills created by excessive consumption of alcohol, including motor vehicle accidents, violence, relationship breakdowns, and employment concerns. Thus, professional social workers often deal with alcohol misuse and its consequences. Today, the contribution of social workers towards controlling drinking is evident from the move towards responsible drinking by many of the residents. The social workers continue to revamp efforts to encourage abstinence to address alcohol misuse.
In my community, I have witnessed personal biases and perspectives that have derailed the provision of social services by the social work professionals. Consequently, people in need of these services are left to deal with their problems, which they are not equipped to do. For example, I have witnessed cases of practicing social workers being unable to manage their own children. In one instance, a social worker’s child threw tantrum in a public grocery store. The incident was widely talked about and the community was made to believe that the social worker was incapable of protecting children and did not have the moral authority to promote good parenting because of her “inability” to take care of her own child. Besides, the community started believing that parenting was not easy as described by social workers thus the people lost confidence in social work. I have also witnessed alcohol addicts suffering because they do not trust their social workers. I came across a social worker who was a moderate drinker within the community and he drank with those requiring his help to deal with alcoholism. As such, he was biased and failed to provide required services to deal with alcoholism.
Activity 1E: Social Work in Your Community
As mentioned earlier, most of the social workers are involved in child protection and eradication of excessive consumption of alcohol. I have been in the community in numerous occasions. I can attest that the social workers drawn from registered and unregistered agencies have been helpful in supporting families, special ethnic groups and people living with disabilities. However, there are numerous social work agencies that both help people and advocate for social justice in Toronto. For example, Art with a Heart agency addresses the needs of special interest groups using art-based programs. In essence, the programs delivered by the agency helps the local community to build life skills and accord them a platform to express themselves when advocating for their rights. As well, Artists without Barriers is another agency that provides opportunities to people living with disabilities to provide performance centers and connects upcoming to established artists.
Important Values and Ideology
Social work practice is rooted in core values and ideologies that set the foundation for future practice anchored in purpose and perspective. The essential values include objectivity, confidentiality, and accountability. My values of empathy and honesty when dealing with social work problems, experience working as social worker, and evidence gathered in the world of social work practice are likely to influence my social work assignments. I intend to show empathy by accommodating all clients and treating them objectively irrespective of their own cultural orientation to provide social services. When dealing with sensitive issues of clients, confidentiality is paramount in establishing trust with the clients. Davidson (2016) outlines that effective handling of confidential data can create an environment of openness to allow clients explain their problems to social workers. Finally, ensuring accountability in use of resources will ensure that clients receive the services they deserve. On the contrary, mismanagement of funds and resourced reduces the credibility of social work practice.
The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) guidelines on ethical have been helpful in guiding the professional conduct of social workers. I believe that the ethical principles outlined by CASW will be essential in guiding my future professional social works practice. Dignity and integrity principles are consistent with my values. I believe that every person is different based on cultural and social values. Therefore, I intend to be mindful of these differences and treat each client with dignity and respect. Canadian Association of Social Workers (2005) reveals that treating clients objectively could allow them to address their needs and improve personal situations. I once came across a client who came to a social meeting to discuss his alcoholism problem while drunk. The principle of dignity helped the social workers to treat the client with respect even as they informed him that it was impossible for them to have a meaningful meeting when he was drunk hence the meeting had to be delayed. Indeed, he was not denied the services he needed. As such, I plan to be cognizant of my duties to clients and the society as whole and provide solutions to problems affecting them without prejudice. My integrity and honesty will help facilitate relationships with clients and improve their lives. I intend to adhere to personal beliefs and values regarding truthfulness to set a good example to other practitioners and clients we serve.
Social work practice is categorized into macro, mezzo, and micro. It is imperative for a social worker to be equipped with skills to work in communities, neighborhoods, institutions, and social groups (Turner, 2017). The communication and organizational skills and the ability to take notes will be instrumental in fulfilling different roles. Foremost, I am prepared to create a professional boundary when addressing the needs of a client. According to Turner (2017), many situations like gender based violence require social workers to establish a concise professional boundary. Therefore, establishing a professional boundary will enhance my ability to offer service and cushion me from criticism if mistakes occur. Additionally, I am ready to facilitate the co-operation of people if it is likely to yield desirable results. I am determined to use my organizational skills to establish a relationship between individuals who are reluctant to form a working group. However, I may face a challenge in ascertaining applicable intervention as my specialty confines me to child protection. I will address this challenge by undergoing extensive training to gain knowledge to manage the general needs of clients.
I believe that psychosocial theory will support my future social work practice by helping me understand why people behave and act the way they do. Lee (2010) posits that psychosocial theory can help people break away from the habits that cause problems to assist them succeed in life. I believe that the psychosocial theory will enable me to handle myriad issues regarding establishment of trust, mistrust, and demonstration of competency and self-worth. Hence, I will be able to understand environmental reactions to treat clients and provide the best social care desired by them.
Anti-oppressive practice is the technique of ending oppression and domination in communities. In my view, most of the social problems people experience in communities result from selfishness and oppression arising from skewed distribution of services and resources. My friend needs to know that anti-oppressive is the technique that social workers use to address the causes of social problems arising from discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, income, and political affiliation.
Part 2: Interview a social worker
I interviewed a community social worker from the Artists Without Barriers agency that empowers artists living with disabilities. Essentially, the agency supports the community by providing studio spaces, art training, and creative wellness programs to the disabled. The social worker explained that she works closely with community leaders to identify people living with disabilities but have artistic talents. She also acknowledged that social workers need the assistance of community members to identify the needy. During the interview, she revealed that social workers face numerous challenges as they attempt to initiate social change. For instance, she claimed that social workers are often seen as role models, and a simple deviation from societal norms by them directly affect services provision and the perception of the public. She claimed that social issues are as a result missed opportunities arising from discrimination and oppression.
In her social work practice, she has come across individuals that qualify for the agency’s artistic support, yet unable to access the service for lack of awareness. In her view, future social work practice will require creation of awareness on service provided by myriad agencies and the eligibility criteria. Furthermore, the social worker reiterated that there is no need to have social workers if clients remain sidelined. She also affirmed that just like in other professions, the practice is governed by ethical principle and personal values. Promoting transparency in dealing with clients is the greatest personal value that she believes creates fairness and equality when dealing with many people. Besides, psychosocial theory is instrumental in offering art-based programs people living with disability in Toronto. Her assertions are consistent with my experience of how social work is practiced in communities. As such, it is imperative to understand how people react to environmental influences as it defines their habits (Leece, J. & Leece, L., 2011). My views did not change after the interview. I still believe that social workers play valuable roles in transforming societies. Additionally, social workers need support from community members to help them achieve objectives set by different social work agencies.
I still wish to know how social workers balance work and personal life to deal with stress. I understand that social work is stressful. Moreover, how do social workers cope with crises? The assignment has shown that social problems affecting people result from oppression and discrimination which can degenerate into humanitarian crisis. Secondly, how do extremely busy social workers advance their professional training? Indeed, social work profession is a calling to serve humanity requiring a lot of time.
Canadian Association of Social Workers. (2005). CASW/ACTS guidelines for ethical practice. CASW Acts. Retrieved from http://caswacts.ca/sites/default/files/attachements/CASW_Guidelines%20for%20Ethical%20Practice.pdf.
Davidson, F. (2016). A guide to radical social work. The Guardian. Retrieved from www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2016/may/24/radical-social-work-quick-guide-change-poverty-inequality.
Lee, E. (2010). Revisioning cultural competencies in clinical social work practice. Families in Society, 91(3), 272-279. Doi: 10.1606/1044-3894.4005.
Leece, J. & Leece, L. (2011). Personalisation: Perceptions of the role of social work in a world of brokers and budgets. The British Journal of Social Work, 41(2), 204–223. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcq087.
Legood, A., McGrath, M., Searle, R. & Lee, A. (2016). Exploring how social workers experience and cope with public perception of their profession. British Journal of Social Work, 46(7), 1872-1889. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcv139.
Osmanaga, F. (2019). Public perception about social work profession. European Journal of Sustainable Development, 8(2), 177-190. Doi: 10.14207/ejsd.2019.v8n2p177.
Turner, F. (2017). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches. Oxford: Oxford University Press.