My Social Work Values

Social Work Values
I originally wrote this short post regarding my social work values several years ago but never published it. I'm publishing it now to remind myself that despite how burned out I feel, I am and will fundamentally always be a social worker at heart.


Sometimes, I feel so burned out by my job that I can't help but feel apathy about my patients and the social issues affecting society. During these times, I wonder if I still have the social worker mindset and belong in the social worker profession. Then, I interact with the people around me and am starkly reminded that deep down, I'm still a social worker. If you feel infuriated by any of the following, then you probably are too!

  • Retelling a story about a patient and having the first response be, "That person was black, right?"  
  • Being told that mental illness is "just in someone's head" and that they simply need to "snap out of it". 
  • Being told that people who attempt/commit suicide are "being selfish". 
  • After an exhausting day at work, being told that your job is 1) easy or 2) worthless. 
  • Trying to explain the mechanics of alcohol relapse to someone, only to be told, "People who relapse are weak." 
  • Being told that poor people are in that situation because they're lazy and that all safety net programs need to be eliminated completely. 
  • Being told that people SHOULD be discriminated against based on sexual orientation. 
  • Seeing social workers perform their job poorly, because it reflects on you and the entire profession. 
  • Hearing one of the various stereotypes associated with the social work profession (i.e. "baby snatcher", "food stamp lady", "free stuff person", etc.) 
  • Hearing people without BSWs or MSWs refer to themselves as "social workers". 

As emotionally exhausting and my disheartening my job can be at times, it doesn't change the fact that on a fundamental level, I still care about helping the poor, sick, mentally ill, and disenfranchised. Unless something happens to completely shake my worldview, I doubt these social work values will ever change. Even if I burn out to the point I choose to leave the profession, I know that I will always be a social worker at heart.

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