If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the first week-and-half of training it’s that self awareness or as Barry likes to poignantly phrase it, “owning your stuff”, is actually integral to the success of caseworkers. We have discussed engagement, assessment, and active listening among other topics, yet somehow each lesson has the underlying theme of “owning your stuff”. One must acknowledge personal biases, discomfort, and beliefs before attempting to engage families and children. I’ve learned that simply being aware of yourself can positively change how you interact with others. For example if a caseworker is uncomfortable with discussing teenage pregnancy, this may translate into his/her work; before you know it, the caseworker is faced with speaking about the topic with a teenage client but cannot move forward because of their personal discomfort. During the training, it’s been a helpful reminder that we are there for the clients’ well-being and not our personal comfort levels.
Today we practiced engagement once again along with attempting to find out what motivates us all. We were asked to discuss (in groups of 3) a personal struggle and what motivates us to work to overcome it. In my opinion, the exercise was much more probing and uncomfortable than our previous exercises but I appreciated that I was forced out of my comfort zone. It created some vulnerability, which led to bonding. As always, the exercise proved to be useful because if I felt uncomfortable disclosing a personal struggle, I can only imagine how a parent or child must feel when disclosing this information to a caseworker he/she may not know so well. The exercise allowed me to understand the awesome responsibility caseworkers are entrusted with.
Overall it’s been a very positive experience thus far. I cannot begin to go into all of the topics we have already discussed; I feel like I am learning so much.