Home > School, social work > You’re really going to let me do this?

You’re really going to let me do this?

I love what I do. While I frequently complain about the misery of being an MSW student, I would not want to be in any other field besides social work. Sometimes, I even think that I will be a really good social worker. But when I think about graduation in May 2012 and launching my career as a counselor, actually counseling, my thoughts lead towards, “Really? I’m a counselor now? I’m allowed to counsel people, just after two years of school?”

I’ve been counseling. I did it last year and will do it again all this year. So it’s not like I’m leaving school without any field experience. However, I took the summer off from all things social worky so now the reality of having a real caseload again with real clients makes me nervous. Clients are actual people. My job is to help them sort of their problems so they can improve themselves and their situation. Last year, the nature of my relationship my clients was incredibly brief; on average, I spent about three days with them. This year, though, I will be working with the same clients for weeks, and even months. I’m apprehensive about developing and maintaining that delicate, intimate relationship. My clients will not always open up right away, or maybe they do at first and then they shut down. Or maybe just the tiniest thing could happen and suddenly there’s tension between us to be dealt with. If any of this happened last year, my clients were typically out of my care before such issues could be addressed and resolved. I’m even intimidated by my title this year. Yes, I am still a social work intern like last year, but my role in the agency is “therapist”.  I’m so used to identifying as a student, identifying as a professional seems like to trying to run before I’ve learned to walk.

Deep down, I know I can do this job. While there are clinical skills, policies, and research methods to be learned, the core of my practice holds my intuition; my ability to listen, understand, and empathize; and my commitment to social change and social justice.  In a way, graduating and subsequently earning my license feels akin to getting promoted in judo. While a part of me wants the recognition for the work I’ve done, I’m still afraid of wearing a belt that I might not be ready for. I just need to put more trust in myself and my abilities, which like most things, is easier said than done.

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Categories: School, social work
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