Psychology is the scientific and systematic approach to understand human, animal and group behavior. Social work is an art of bringing various resources for individual, group and community needs by the application of the scientific method of helping people to help themselves.
Through several years of learning, skills and experiences in the fields of Psychology and Social Work, I have tried to substantiate certain criteria as requisites to practice efficiently and sustain in the professions.
The most important criterion to pursue social work that I have learnt from my experience is empathy.For instance, when I went on my first visit to an old age home, I felt sorry for the inmates. Through social work practice, I understood that in professional social work I should not be sympathetic (not feel for the person)but empathetic (feel with the person- view the situation standing in another person’s shoe).
Critical thinking and objective thinking are important particularly in reference to assessment of people and situations when one is involved emotionally.Objective here means the ability to separate feelings from facts. So no longer by just hearing one person’s word,I come to a conclusion .Because I am aware that one problem will have various other reasons, than given by the person. So it is important to know the whole problem in detail.I no longer see an alcoholic person as just a person who drink;, but I would go to the depths of knowing why does he drink;since when he has been drinking;how is his family situation and what triggered his dependency towards alcohol.
Awareness of self means that one should be aware of himself well, what kind of person he/she is, strengths and weaknesses and so forth. The study of human behavior, helps me to recognize myself as a person who is very emotional and short tempered.
Self- awareness, self- acceptance and self- esteem are interdependent qualities which influence and generate one another. Knowing about my weaknesses, helps in self –acceptance. An acceptance that I do have a problem and that I should actively seek to resolve it. This makes me a stronger person when I am supposed to help another individual with his life’s problems.
This introspection helps me to evaluate my work. It helps me understand as to how far am I emotionally driven about an issue, if the emotions I hold are at an optimum degree that help me work or impede the progress of an issue.
Knowledge about one’s own strengths builds up self- esteem and self- esteem is necessary for building up one’s confidence and hope with regard to the task of helping.It is particularly necessary for a person to be jovial, optimistic and full of esprit, so the person isn’t shattered easily and in order for the person to be resilient after handling traumatic incidences. Self-esteem is achieved after having striven a lot in most trying situations. Constant reassurance is needed in order to understand my caliber in the profession, that would ensue a sense of self- worth in the long run.
The sessions where I evaluate my work help me improve myself. This helps me understand if I have my own weaknesses and issues that I am projecting on another individual to a point where it becomes increasingly difficult for me to help the individual. One phenomenon is Transference where I may unconsciously direct or transfer my feelings that I have towards my mother, father, sibling or a friend onto another individual.Another issue would be to understand if I am obtruding, and not allowing another person to think independently or have the autonomy to make informed decisions and choices or hold independent opinions.
Sometimes, I may witness a very traumatic incident that may incapacitate me to practice my skills to my best. Sometimes when I am helping individuals or facilitating them, by virtue of being physically present in the situation, I myself become a victim or a bystander to the incident. At those times, I would require guidance and counselling from a superior who could help me de-brief after the trauma in order to resolve any survivor guilt or angst that I may unconsciously possess. To understand the internal and external locus of control of the situations I am subjected to, in order to understand how much help was actually feasible at the point and how far I have striven to provide that.
Openness to change
As an individual everyone will have his/her own attitude or a separate style of handling or pursuing things in various contexts. As I also meet with new people and experience different situations my attitudes are subject to change. One critical quality I need is the openness to change and keep myself flexible to change. I should be open to ideas, challenge stereotypes and my biases, long held prejudices. If I have moral principles, I should seek to question them, constantly endeavor to either assert them with evidences or refine them.
Context is the key that provides a framework or a vantage point from which we could analyse and view situations. The context is very important to diagnose whether a ‘problem’ or an ‘issue’ actually persists or no. I can come to a conclusion about where the it is a problem in the first place or not, how to resolve the issue, going beyond the abstract relativistic concepts of what is considered ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’; ‘usual’ or ‘deviant’; ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.Apart from these, magnitude or intensity of the problem; has the problem been an isolated instance, chronic or episodic; does the issue affect other areas of a person’s life (personal, familial, occupational); other triggers or precipitating incidents or factors that have triggered the issues; has it been a genetically or environmentally induced problem; prevalence of that issue in the particular area, social attitudes surrounding it; is it perceived as usual or a phenomenon by the people belonging to that area – all these factors and more form the context with which we analyse the issue.
I have learnt that as a Social Worker or a Psychologist,I am a mediator or a facilitator to help people access their needs and reach their goals. Alternatively, I may sometimes take a Directive approach but that purely depends on the situation at hand and how far would the individual is handicapped physically, mentally or psychologically. Again, I should constantly evaluate in order to understand when I could withdraw my help and try to provide the individual with more autonomy and in-dependency and that is a mandatory goal for me to constantly strive for, in order to be successful in therapy.