Listening to: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These) — Eurythmics
A couple of days ago, I had one of those conversations. You know, the kind you walk away from feeling like you’ve been talking to a brick wall. It went something like this - Me: I’m going to be a therapist.
Responder: Everyone knows that therapists are psychologists, not social workers!
It was just another in a series of “discussions” I’ve had lately about my chosen career path. People want to know, why social work? Why would I want to be, to quote one of my friends, overworked and underpaid? Don’t I know that I’m never going to make any money in this field? Why would I want to take away other people’s children?
The view of the general public on the profession of social work leaves a lot to be desired. The notion that social workers ONLY take away people’s children is absurd. The idea that one can never be satisfied as a social worker is even crazier. Here are just a few of the reasons why I chose to go into Social Work.
1. I want to be a therapist. The majority of practicing counselors these days have a social work degree. In fact, my therapist has a social work degree, and it is because of her that I became interested in counseling as a career. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I will be able to go into private practice. Just like a psychologist.
2. If I get a Bachelor’s of Social Work, I can complete the Master’s program in only a year. With the total cost of college at about $10,000 a year, I’m all about reducing the amount of time I have to be in school. Don’t get me wrong — I love academia, and would be a perpetual student if I had my choice — but who can afford that in this economy? Additionally, should anything derail me from my Master’s degree plans, I can work in my field with a BSW.
3. There is more to helping people than understanding mental illness. I will be the first to admit that my fascinations lie mainly in psychology; that’s why I’m now pursuing a double degree. But what I want to do is to help people live more productive lives. Since no one lives in a bubble, approaching problems ONLY from the “how does that make you feel” angle just doesn’t make sense to me. The Social Work program has a strong base in advocacy and social justice. It also covers ethics and policy. I may not like those bits so much, but knowing how to navigate the system will be an advantage to me and for my clients.
It is also worth mentioning that most of what people believe about social work is wrong. True — some social workers function within Child Protective Services. Some social workers take away children. But that is not an arbitrary decision, nor is it the function of the majority of social workers. True — I probably won’t get rich in this career. But if being rich was my ultimate goal, I would be a business student. And that’s not to say that there is no money in social work. It’s just that one becomes a social worker for the satisfaction FIRST, and for the other benefits second.
I am proud to be a Social Work student. Some day, I will be proud to be a Social Worker. Overworked, underpaid and striking fear in the hearts of unfit parents everywhere — this is my path.
Until Next Time,