Social Worker Self Reflection


To be honest, as the novice in the social work field, I found it is difficult and uncertain to deal with most cases. Especially when facing the special population, such as disable people, I am not sure I can face them directly. Actually, to be a real social worker, it is a basic requirement. Maybe, when I face someone suffering personal grief, I would enter into their emotional world and do not know how to support and help them. Therefore, I want to choose disabled people as an object to talk about my difficulties to deal with them.

Literature review:

Working with disabled people is a relatively complex task, because it not only adjusting one to personal individual disasters but also enables them to live better with seeking economic, social as well as community resource. (Oliver, 1995). Sometimes, the misunderstanding and prejudice still exists, even in the social work field. Siller notes that “professionals, like most people, prefer working with the ‘beautiful people’ —those who are most like themselves intellectually and socially” (as cites in Marshak & Seligman, 1993, p.41). Furthermore, the disability serves as a focus of the worker’s attention. Therefore, in worker’s eyes, the disability caused difficulties although they are not related, and disability became the focal point of the whole helping process. (Marshak & Seligman, 1993).

However, the misunderstanding is inevitable. To social workers, it is difficult to balance their own perceptions with the actual situation. After all, to most able-bodied adults’ world, the disabled children are unfamiliar and hidden. Understanding and communicating with these disabled children relatively hard, and workers even will feel difficult to deal with it. (Middleton, 1995). Marshak and Seligman stressed that, we try to view us in the client’s position and can not imagine how to cope with them. Our insight is so limited that we always believe their life is a tragedy. (1993). Social workers are failure to develop a general theoretical and practical skill for interventions. One reason is that lacking of understanding of working with the particular group. The other reason is that when working with disabled clients workers feel inadequate or incompetent (Oliver & Sapey, 1999). From the perspective of psychology, “Most stereotypes of disability are negative and lead, all too readily, too prejudice and discrimination, sine those holding them are unable to perceive the disabled person as an individual.” (Levinson & Parritt, 2006, p.113)

In order to working with disabled people more effective, the social worker should acquire and understand the coping mechanisms of the client. The coping mechanisms include repression, projection, denial, and sublimation. Marshak and Seligman state that the social worker will be the object of the projection or will be blamed by clients because of projection. Denial means that the client refuses to acknowledge disabilities which lead to the delay of the healing process. So social workers will find difficult when their help were rejected by the clients. (1993). Dominelli described that social workers should build a trust relationship with disabled clients that can help them strengthen their willingness to communicate with others and build confidence to do so. (2009).

Actually, many social workers will give unjustified and irrational recommendation and evaluation when facing disabled clients. Oliver and Sapey argued that the record of social work involvement with disabled people is not such a good. Social workers are failure to recognize the real need of their disabled client. According to their nature disability, social workers often do some inappropriate assumptions in their intervention plan. (1999).“Professionals also often erroneously describe clients as needing to accept their disabilities when they are uncooperative with treatment recommendations or are abrasive.”(MArshak & Seligman, 1993, p.25) According to Oliver and Sapey (1999), Disabled people have accused the professionals ignore the disabling conditions, benefits and rights of themselves. Furthermore, professionals ignore the practical assistance and verbal advice to disabled clients in training programs.

As the social worker, what can we do and How to deal with them has become a significant issue. Empathy is most important during the helping process. At the same time, respect, caring and genuine also included in the whole process. (Marshak & Seligman, 1993). Besides, Social workers should encourage autonomy of clients with disability. Working with them is more important than treating them as a recipient passively. (Dominelli, 2009). “Counselors are often involved in multiple roles including empathic listener, advisor, educator, advocate, and intermediary, as well as practitioner-scientist.”(Helms & Ekstrom, 2002, p ?,)

Further, some gesture and body language should be pay attention. Marshak and Seligman argued that Social worker should face the clients and talking with them. Looking at elsewhere will show inattention and unconcern. (1993). “Abolishing stereotypes of disability and dehumanizing or shaming responses are important steps in eradicating oppression and discrimination against disabled people. Another one is treating them with dignity and equality.”(Dominelli, 2009, p.71) Helms and Ekstrom suggested that when working with disabled clients, the existing laws and principles of assessment should be combined with client’s own opinions and concerns. Besides the basic communicating and counseling skills, social workers need acquire particular expertise when working with clients, their family members, education and career institutions, and social services agencies and so on. (2002)

Self – assessment:

To me, I never contact this particular population based on a client-worker relationship. Therefore, I felt uncertain whether I provide correct and effective help to them. On the other hand, I also worried about whether my behavior or expression will hurt them dignity although it is not my original intention. Maybe, all of these feelings and concerns come from my own personal psychological situation and growth background.

I will give myself an analysis and assessment to find the inside available reasons or factors which result in the difficulty. The possible points as follows:

1. Emotional vulnerability

To be honest, the most challenge for me is to face so much grief and miserable experience. Perhaps it is my growth background that brings about my emotional vulnerability. I have a fortunate and harmonious family and almost never experienced any misfortune and disaster. I seem like never lack of something like substance, friendship, care, love, support, attention and so on. The happy childhood and unhindered adolescence enable me to believe that almost everything in the world is beautiful. Actually, there are various kinds of disablement. Most of the disablement caused by

Actually, during my growth process, rare difficulties and misery were happened so I do not know how to do when facing these problems. Nevertheless, I found that to be a social worker, I would face the disabled people directly.

These disabled people may seem themselves as different people and less likely to enter able bodied people’s world. As a social worker, the first step is to listen to their different stories and give them care and support. I should admit that empathy is necessary because it can enable workers to entry their emotion world. However, since I never contact these people during my whole growth progress, maybe I will feel shocked and can not understand my client entirely. I concern about I would crying before my clients when I listen to their stories or unfortunate experience. My vulnerable emotion will be affected by their loneliness; grief as well as depression which enable me cannot to offer a sound and comprehensive judgment. It also turns to my concern that whether I can control my emotion felicitously.

2. Psychological endure ability

When it comes to psychological endure ability, I think it is so important when dealing with the case for some person disabled and handicapped. Maybe some of them have experienced serious disasters and accidents, their mental and physical well-being have been impaired and damaged. Sometimes the disablement is obviously showed in their appearance. At this time, I still should maintain calm and poised even if I confronting with shocking and freighting situation. I can not show abhorrer or fear when facing these people. Otherwise, my clients will be hurt and be more depressed. Therefore, when confronting with the defective clients, the strong psychological endure ability is necessary.

3. Communication skill

A specific communication skills and counseling patterns should be provident to disabled clients. Form my own perspective, I maybe cannot learn from my client’s thought and emotion entirely so that cannot give feedback and reaction effectively and timely. Although to the disabled people, an appropriate and agreed view is so critical to them which can help them rebuild confidence and hope.

The main reason is I am an outsider to them, I do not understand another world of the disabled. The way of communication to them should be different. The more I worried about how to communicate with them, the more distance is introduced into our counselor-client relationship. For example, some questions I want to ask but I can not sure whether the questions may recall my client’s grieved memory. Consequently, I can not understand my clients more deeply and wholly.

When face to the client with disability, I must try to imagine from their perspective and in their position, however, I can not cope well because my insight is limited.

Personal plan

1st step:

Lacking of contact with disabled people maybe is the main possible reason that result in I cannot cope with disabled clients very well. As a social worker, it must be overcome by some effective and direct method. First of all, contacting and communication with them frequently maybe can help me tackle the psychological vulnerable problem. Maybe I can visit some institutions which provide professional services and medical care to disabled people regularly. At the beginning, I can just communicate with them about some trivial topics. After a period of time, when I adapt myself staying with them and do not feel uncomfortable anymore, I can try to understand their life further. As we know, lots of disabled people even can not take care of themselves, so the social worker, nurses, doctors will work together to offer health services. Learning from them and acquiring detailed information about the disabled people can help me adapt better. Secondly, some community and social services institution will organize various activities for disabled people especially to disabled children. By participating in these activities or playing games with disabled young children, i can find out their innermost thought and need by observing their behavior and emotional status.

2nd step:

Learning detailed and useful information from books and lectures. Even if I have overcome my inner uncomfortable and uneasy situation, and can face the client with disability directly, anther problem still exists. That is how to provide them with valid support and care. As we know, the treatment of these clients involved large amount of medical therapy. As a social worker who offers services for the disabled people, I should acquire important medical knowledge. With the combination of social work practical skills and medical knowledge, I can give out more sound and reasonable suggestions to my clients.

3rd step:

Since most of these disabled clients are vulnerable, depressed and helpless, they will resistant to receive professional help to some extent. As a social worker, I have to learn how to taste their emotions and induct them to tell more. Therefore, the good and professional communication skills are necessary. The fist step is to enable my clients trust me, believe me. Only constructing a trustful and comfortable worker-client relationship, the whole cancelling process will be effective. However, how to improve my communication skill? I should admit that I am straightforward and lacking of patient. The two personal characteristics may affect my work in the future. Therefore, I had to made conscious effort not to be impulsive and straightforward. When facing the disabled clients, I should consider whether my saying and behavior will hurt them. At this stage, I can learn it from some videos on internet. I can watch some scene about the communication between social worker and disabled clients, imitating the communicating style from professional social workers, pay attention to their expression, tone, vocabulary, gesture and so on. I believe I will promote a lot through the effort and be more professional and calm when dealing with disabled clients.

At last, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to seek selfhood, because I have wondered a long time whether I fit the major and whether I can do a good job in the field. However, whatever the outcome is, I will try my best to learn, to explore and to pursue the professional knowledge and skills. After all, these valuable experiences can help me recognize the society more mature and rational.

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