The people you’re most likely to help as a social worker, people who struggle at or below the poverty line, face a social stigma from many who misunderstand what it is you do in social services. Your aim is to help families not only survive, but thrive on their own efforts. However, if your clients feel judged — either by your staff or society as a whole — they’re less likely to seek the help they need. Improve compassion in the field of social work by more clearly communicating what you do and better connecting with the people you aim to help.
Further Your Education
Become a better leader in the field with an advanced degree; a master’s degree in social work will provide you access to the latest research and educational techniques in the field. Consult with professors with years of experience, learn how to better incorporate technology into your workplace and learn skills that make you a better leader in your office. If your office aims to promote compassion for your work, you’ll need to strategize, and a master’s degree can help you step back and re-think how your office operates.
Treat Each Client as an Individual
When you’ve got quotas to meet and more clients than your office can handle, it can be easy to see everyone as numbers on paper, one more form to fill out and file before moving on to the next client of the day. Compassion for your work begins with the people in your office. Take the time to view each client as an individual. It may seem basic, but after years of being harried at work, forgetting to acknowledge the individuals you treat can become second-nature.
Ask clients about their families or something fun you talked about last session. Let them spend a little time crying or venting about their issues, and refer them to someone who can help. Take notes in their files if you have trouble remembering the little details and consult them before your sessions. Your clients will appreciate the extra touch of compassion and will feel more comfortable returning to work on the more serious issues with you.
Lead Charity Events
Organize charity events benefiting the needy in your community and invite the entire community to participate. Fun events such as bake sales, games, marathons, craft fairs and sports games will draw crowds. Use the opportunity to promote your organizationas a sponsor. Ask for donations to your organization as an entrance fee, and have a booth on site to explain the type of work you do for the community. Focus on what the organization does for individuals in need and how your work benefits everyone in the area, even if indirectly. For example:
- The more opportunities for children, the better their education and the better their chances of staying away from vandalism and other crime.
- The more people who work, the better the economy in the region becomes as a whole.
- The more support single and impoverished parents receive while raising their children, the greater their opportunities to work.
People are more likely to embrace giving back to their community if they can see how it can positively impact them as well.
Publish Articles About Your Work
In addition to educating the public at community events, write articles and explain how your work serves the community as a whole. Publish your work in the local paper and online, and invite debate. Use clients who serve as success stories as examples, but only with their permission and after changing their names. The community needs to feel the depth of what it is you do to feel more compassionate about the clients you serve.
You also need to take care of yourself. U.S. News also suggests seeking therapy for your own mental health, both as a way to cope with the stresses of work-life balance in the field of social work and to demonstrate your willingness to tackle your own issues before you extend that willingness to help your social work clients with theirs. It will make you more compassionate. The field of social work will always have a need for qualified workers — the same U.S. News report suggests a 15.1 percent employment growth in the field by 2022 — but simply doing your job isn’t the same as excelling in your field. Become a more effective social worker by promoting compassion for the people you help.