From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Social Work Students

From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Social Work Students

Monday, April 22, 2013

Life Changes

by Kristin Kujawa

Life is but a breath. This phrase from James 4:14 has been brought to my attention recently in several situations.
A friend of mine passed away tragically in a fiery car crash on Good Friday. He was 28 years old and in a matter of seconds his life on this earth was gone and he is home with his Savior. James Sauter was a man full of energy and impact with a promising future ahead of him. In a moment, because of another man’s mistake, his life was taken. Though his time was short, his influence on so many others' lives was evident by the thousands who gathered to pay their respects. As I was thinking about the situation, it brought to mind the verse I Peter 1:24 “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field: the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of Lord will stand forever.” We do not know what tomorrow holds, we do not know how short our life will be. We can be called home anytime. So we must make the most of the time God grants us on this earth.
As I was reflecting about this quick end of a life, I realized that my time at my internship is coming to an end quickly. Though it is ending, I feel like my time here has really just begun. I have just begun getting to know a number of my participants and feel comfortable with all the staff. The reality of life is that you are here for a moment. But during that time you will impact so many people. One of my favorite life verses that I choose to live by is Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” The question that I continually ask myself not only in my internship but on a daily basis is, am I giving my all to serve him? Because this life is short, time moves quickly, and that is something that we cannot get back. We need to choose to live each day giving thanks to God the Father and doing His work while we are here.

Life quickly changes and this is has been more evident as of late even throughout the country. There is threat of war from North Korea, the bombings in Boston, crazy weather across the country; each reminds us that we cannot control everything. Through all of life’s changes we need to look to the Creator and the Omnipotent One. He is the only one who understands, because He holds the world in his hands.
As we look to the future as graduating seniors or returning to our colleges for another year or two, be reminded that what we are here for only a short time. We can choose to live our lives as a testimony of what He has accomplished, making an eternal impact for the kingdom, or we can focus on worldly success. The question is what will you do with the time He gives you?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

From Course Material to Internship Experience

by Alicia Curtis

During this semester, I have learned a lot about what it means to be a professional social worker. While I was home during the long Easter weekend, I took time to look through a few of my previous course materials. In my “Working with Diverse Populations” course, self-awareness as a clinician was highly talked about. One particular quote given to us by our professor continues to stick out to me this semester: “Culturally aware social workers will test their stereotypes by being aware of them, open to new experiences, receptive to new ideas, capable of looking at old facts in new ways, and willing to change old stereotypes if the hypotheses do not hold.” It is important for me to be aware of this, but even more so to be aware of how my words and actions display my own personal values and thoughts. Being aware as a counselor is extremely necessary including my values, biases, stereotypes, and assumptions about human behavior.

For instance, an assumption that I have had is that many times when kids do not do well, it is because they are not trying hard enough. At the agency I am working at, however, they follow the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention motto, which says “kids do well if they can.” Many of the clients I work with lack the proper skills to achieve certain tasks, not the motivation. The clients throughout their lives have tried to learn, be a part of families and to behave properly but there have been many barriers holding them back including environmental issues such as not having adequate resources. As a social worker, I have learned to look past the stereotype that kids do well if they try, and instead look to the core of the problem to help the clients succeed.

During my time as a social work intern, I have learned many important elements of how to exhibit high standards of professional behavior and competence. There have been many different ways in which I have witnessed, learned and exhibited these professional qualities. A few of the experiences that have helped me to acquire these skills include the learning contract, my personal supervision time, and the people I work with.

The learning contract has helped me to achieve professional competence by providing specific guidelines to achieve to proficient standards. To do so, takes skill, training and observations of other workers partaking in similar tasks. Creating specific tasks to assist in acquiring specific skills sets is another way the learning contract has helped me to direct practice.

Supervision time this semester has allowed me to discuss ethical dilemmas in a confidential and appropriate work setting. I have also been able to talk through my own skill gaps when working with clients and have been able to ask for specific feedback as well as suggestions to improve my professional skills. During times of principled decision making, I am able to apply the ethical reasoning my supervisor has discussed with me. From my supervision I have also learned more about the values, mission and current goals of my agency, which assists in aligning my behaviors, boundaries and communication styles as well as roles to fit the current atmosphere.

The people I work with display many professional qualities and competencies that are necessary for success in social work. My co-workers are extremely empathetic with clients, which is a major part of direct practice. They are also able to maintain strong professional boundaries and seem to truly understand their role, as well as tolerate ambiguity among themselves when resolving issues. They are constantly engaging, assessing, intervening and evaluating clients. Also, they are able to intervene through helping clients to initiate actions to achieve organizational goals as well as helping clients to resolve problems.

Overall, I have learned many professional skills and competencies at my internship site. This semester has helped me to apply the NASW Code of Ethics in practical experiences. Each day I am encouraged to seek further professional skills, behaviors and competencies. Being able to apply the different skills and information I learned from my classes into this internship has been a major blessing.