June 13, 2024

“I Am a Social Worker” – National Social Work Month

March Recognizes Social Work Profession

“The best way to find your self is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Social workers practice human dignity, peace, social justice.”
NASW T-Shirt

I’ve taught undergraduate and graduate level classes in the field of Social Work at Ball State University and Indiana University Purdue University. Since 2004, I have presented annually at the Indiana Chapter Conference for the National Association of Social Work (NASW).

For years though, I was not a Social Worker. If people asked, I would say “I am a Therapist.” It was easier to explain and I thought that I had little in common with Social Workers.

Yet my degree, my ticket to work in the therapy field is the Master of Science, School of Social Work (MSSW) from the University of Tennessee. That is how it has been for most of my career.

I needed the ticket and the license (LCSW or Licensed Clinical Social Worker); I knew that social workers did most of the psychotherapy in Community Mental Health and much of psychotherapy in private practice. But still, I thought of myself as a therapist.

Then after studying with the best in the world on Quality of Care in Mental health, I wanted to teach this to others. I applied to do a workshop at the NASW annual Indiana training conference. They welcomed my participation.

I presented the workshop “Doing Effective Therapy.” I listened to other presenters, attended the key note speeches, and watched as Social Workers honored their own. I ate with other Social Workers, stopped at information booths, and talked with many.

Social Workers came from a wide variety of fields, well beyond my specific involvement with community mental health. I found them dedicated to adding value to people’s lives and felt lucky to be involved with them.

In graduate school we joked that “a social worker is what a social worker does.” Social Work is such a broad field and involves helping people in so many ways as to be mind boggling. Social workers are in hospitals, schools, nursing homes; working with the homeless, in mental heath centers and so much more.

It is an honorable, but little honored, profession. I now know what this social worker does as a therapist in mental health, while quite important, is a small sliver of the field. I am a member of NASW.
I am a Social Worker.

To learn more about Social Work check out the Indiana NASW web site  or the NASW national site.