By Pam Crawford
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, PCHAS
March is designated as Social work month. Please allow me this great opportunity to share some thoughts and concepts of the profession.
In Texas, to call yourself a social worker, you must have been licensed by the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners. This requires: a degree from an accredited university, passing a licensing examination, and maintaining continuing education credits as well as ethical standards.
Possibly your concept of a social worker is one that “takes children from their parents.” Hollywood movies and television have created this illusion which often could not be further from the truth. More often than not, most social workers are working to keep families together, enhancing the relationships within the family unit as indicated in their articulated code of core values.
One of the ethical standards of social work is the responsibility of empowering clients to have self-determination. Social workers do not give “advice” but rather try to help clients determine their goals and subsequently discover the options available to them. Many times, this is a challenge when the social worker perceives an “obvious” option for the client but somehow the client cannot see this for themselves.
Alan Keith-Lucas, a former distinguished professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, social worker and renowned consultant for children’s homes all over the United States, has much wisdom to offer us regarding social work and self-determination. He wrote the following:
“You all know the old saying, “you can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”
Well, this is true. You see, the trick is to make him thirsty, and then he will drink himself.
My hope is that we as social workers can continue to honor the dignity and worth of all persons and their right to determine what is best for them (not us), as we seek to empower them to “thirst” for the best available option.
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