Recent cases in which cyberbullying has led to self-harm and suicide have made this seem even more important. As a result of these occurrences, social media often has been cast as a villain, linked directly to the deaths of young adults throughout the United States and the world. This correlation, however, only presents one side.
Earlier this year, UCONN Magazine brought together a distinguished panel Social work and the military essay alumni from the School of Social Work to discuss current issues and challenges in the field of social work.
Catherine Havens, associate dean of the School of Social Work, moderated. What do you see as some of the major challenges for social workers today? One of the most significant challenges is this concept about doing more with less.
Each social worker has to be both a micro and a macro person.
The struggle of social workers is to put into words the work that needs to be done on cases. People want to assign a dollar amount to the caseloads so that the [budget] dollar declines as the caseload declines. Where does social work fit into helping manage populations and helping to create accountable care organizations?
The work that social workers do is hard work because you interact with so much pain.
Whatever realm the social worker is in, they end up connecting with a lot of difficult experiences. Our degree is a multifaceted degree.
When you get an M. I think that the schools, the academic institutions, are being challenged more and more.
What are some other issues that you think are particular challenges across all your various experiences? It impacts social workers, but it impacts all of our entities as well.
We know that data drives the budget. It drives billions of dollars. But for social workers, trying to translate it [into helping clients] is what we struggle with the most.
Social workers can help frame the questions appropriately. I worked with gay, lesbian, bi- and transsexual youth, and for a long time they were viewed as a monolithic group. We began to discover that not all gay kids are at risk; that a subset of gay kids are the ones that are at risk, and this is where the resources should go.
Having grown up in Hartford in a family that benefitted from social service programs, you [can] often [be] disconnected from the rest of the world. One of the core responsibilities of a social worker, or it should be, is to help give voice and help folks find their voice.
We need to help them find that voice. How do you think your social work education at UConn influenced you? I still remember the first thing my field instructor asked me. Unless you do a lot of introspection and really consider why you do what you do, it really minimizes your effectiveness.
I was working full time when I got my social work degree. They worked it so I could do my field instruction at my place of employment. I remember that it was tremendously helpful to me, in terms of the work I was doing, that I could apply what I was learning to work.
It was a time of self-reflection, a time for me to really think about what I wanted to do and how I was going to apply what I was learning in the classroom and in my field placement.
If you can try different parts of social work, hopefully your two placements are quite different from each other, [and] you can clarify what kind of job you want. One of the ways that the School helped me the most and how it influenced me was that they were willing to be really flexible with me.
One sort of just grew right out of the other. Something the School has improved quite a bit since I was here is being flexible with adults who have lives and have to have various adaptations but still want to learn and contribute a lot.
I like that the School has broadened out to get more of a generalist role in the first year and to offer everybody having both micro and macro experiences in the first year. What would your advice be to someone who expresses an interest in pursuing social work as a profession?military social scientists as to the likely effects of lifting the ban.
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Social work is a unique profession rich with meaning, action, and the power to make a difference. Social workers pull communities together, help individuals and families find solutions, advance changes in social policy, promote social justice, and foster human and global well-being.
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