Things I Learned This Year: Social Work

[Thus begins the end of year posts]

1. I actually don’t like doing the long-term therapy that I’ve been writing about for years. It’s hard to see any obvious progress with individual sessions, and it turns out I tend to experience the fifty-minute-hour as being more like five thousand years long.

2. Crisis-intervention is fantastic for me. Previous aspects of jobs I’ve enjoyed: managing conferences/customer service/stage managing related things, schizophrenia/general mental health assessment, secretarial/personal assistant work. Crisis work involves the underlying themes: you must solve the problem now! collect all the information! coordinate everything in a high-pressure environment!

…okay nope, I’m confused about why I initially thought long-term therapy was the career for me.

3. Phone anxiety goes away quickly with Exposure To People Yelling At You By Phone Therapy (aka flooding). Somehow I hadn’t connected the dots between “I have phone anxiety” and “Making appointments means calling people.” Wow did I notice the problem quickly once I started work.

4. I now have a vivid mental picture of what it looks like when bureaucracy kills people.

5. I spent a lot of my blogging career emphasizing that just because someone tells you about their problems doesn’t mean they are requesting solutions or advice, that sometimes all they need is someone to join them in the problem and agree, yeah, that’s horrible.

I’m not nearly as good at following this as I would like to be…or as I thought I was. Seeing a client always has this overarching sense of “this time is valuable! I can solve it, and I have to do it now! Offer solutions! That one won’t work? Offer another solution!”

6. I have always known that you can’t solve everything, that scarcity exists, and that sometimes you can only help the most desperate. I hadn’t really thought about what it would be like to be the person who says “I am sorry, you can’t have this thing that will let you improve your dire situation.” Or to say it repeatedly.

7. When I’m tired, it’s hard to remember to answer the phone using my actual name (as opposed to ‘Kate Donovan’) and, in one memorable occasion, I answered not as EITHER name I use, but instead a hodgepodge of names of two people I’d recently seen. Welp.

8. The good stories are hard to explain, the bad stories are easy to talk about.

9. Death is bad.

10. You do not always get to see good people. There is no ‘moral human’ requirement for seeking social services.

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