Social Work Reflections

For my first social work class, we completed weekly logs, challenging us to engage in critical thinking and personal reflection about the readings and lectures. Here’s an excerpt of a personal reflection I wrote in my first week of coursework in response to the question prompt. After finishing four courses, I am still scared, mostly because I’m still trying to figure out exactly where I can best use my unique strengths. But my answer to the question below helps to remind me why I’m doing it all.

How are you feeling right now about entering the social work profession? Indicate the source or cause of this reaction.

After reading about the mission of the profession, I feel reassured that social work is a good choice for me. I am currently working in child psychiatry research with a developmental psychologist and have been working with her for the past 14 years, so the prospect of changing to a new career is scary to me, but also exciting.

The readings and reflection about leadership were particularly interesting to me. I clearly remember telling my current supervisor years ago that I didn’t want to be a leader and she responded by telling me that I am. This stuck with me and in the past year, I’ve found myself drawn to leadership books and podcasts despite the fact that the prospect of leadership scares me. I recently read a book by Andy Crouch called “Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing.” He makes the argument that true flourishing requires embracing both authority and vulnerability in our lives. His argument that authority without vulnerability leads to oppression and that vulnerability without authority is the result of oppression resonates with some of the readings from this week. There is also one quote about leadership from this book that I love and that I’d love to embrace in my life.

“Leadership does not begin with title or position, it begins the moment you are more concerned about others’ flourishing than your own.”

It’s easy to think that, as a social worker, I will automatically engage in this type of leadership. After all, the mission of social work is to bring justice to the vulnerable or oppressed. However, I know that sometimes my motives can be more selfish. I can choose to help so that others will look at me as kind or because I am afraid to say no when asked. Or I can choose to help others because it makes me feel better about myself, painting myself as the “hero” and others as the “victims,” causing more harm than good. I want to choose to help so that others can flourish, choosing to put aside any authority that I may have, both that which I’ve earned through hard work and that which was gained by luck of circumstances, so that others too can experience true flourishing.

Crouch, A. (2016). Strong and weak: Embracing a life of love, risk & true flourishing.

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