Whether you’re working in a school, a hospital or any other clinical setting in the field, it’s essential to read up on tips for new social workers. Since social work requires engaging with a diverse group of clients, caseworkers must be ready to face whatever the job throws at them from day one.
Use Your Empathy to Your Client’s Benefit
Those that succeed in the field of social work have one thing in common, and that is empathy. Great social workers can easily put themselves in a client’s shoes, which not only helps them provide support and acceptance but allows them to figure out a client’s needs. Imagining what a homeless client lives through on a daily basis will make you realize they need food and hygiene products before you put them on a long waitlist for a house, while empathizing with a particular elementary-age child lets you figure out they’d rather live with grandma than with mom.
Accept That You Will be Emotionally Affected
The same empathy that benefits your client will often be a drain on you. Many first-time caseworkers imagine they can turn off their emotions the same way they switch off the light when they leave their office. In reality, it’s not possible to leave every part of the job at work. Certain cases will have you feeling stressed, worn out, desperate and even useless. Especially where children are involved, it’s important to give yourself permission to feel a range of emotions. A tip that many new social workers benefit from is finding a therapist of their own, so they can vent about the worries of work without being judged.
Remember That Cooperation is Key
With such a wide range of personalities in your clients, it won’t be long before you meet one you don’t like. Maybe it’s because their case is particularly challenging, maybe it’s because they refuse to follow any of your suggestions or maybe they just rub you the wrong way. Regardless of the reason for your dislike, one of the most helpful tips for new social workers is to cooperate. Even if you don’t personally agree with your client, remain supportive and share kind words. The University of Southern California School of Social Work suggests using cooperation and compromise in order to reach “…a mutually satisfying solution.”
Let Your Silence Speak
After years of learning the right things to say, it’s easy to forget this tip for newbie social workers. Guidance is definitely important, but so is giving your client time to reflect. Don’t feel like you have to fill up the silence with endless plans and instructions. Instead, let your client reflect on what you’ve already told them. The answer may be stealthily hiding underneath all the noise cluttering up the client’s life, just waiting to show itself in a quiet moment. You’ll be amazed at the self-awareness a few minutes of silence can bring, and not only for your client.
Be Accepting of Coworkers
Having bonded with your peers during college, you may be expecting to fall right in with your new coworkers. After all, people involved in this career tend to have a lot of things in common. However, just like you’re bound to encounter unruly clients, not every coworker will see the world, or the job, the same way that you do. Don’t be shocked if you meet someone who is jaded, lazy or simply doesn’t treat their clients with the compassion that you do. Some people just aren’t cut out for the job, so it’s best to ignore them and stick to doing what you know is right.
Related Resource: The Top 10 Online Marriage and Family Counseling Online Degree Programs
With so many different situations in just one field, social work can be a roller coaster. Now that you’ve learned five of the top tips for new social workers, you’ll have an idea of what to watch out for on your first day of the job.