Every Social Worker Needs a Vacation: Fighting Burnout

Social work is a stressful field.  It can challenge you mentally and emotionally, even if you love the work.  Without taking the time to relax and recharge, you can easily end up facing the signs and symptoms of burnout.  To help you get back to your usual self, so you can do the important work you do, here are some ways to help you defeat the burnout monster before it strikes.

Celebrate Victories (Even the Small Ones)

An excellent way to keep your spirits up is to celebrate every victory, no matter the size.  Even though the work is hard, social workers provide a valuable service to the community.  Any time that hard work yields positive results, take the time to recognize it.  It is easier to keep pushing through the challenges when you stop and appreciate the lights at the end of the tunnels.

Celebrations don’t have to be large, or even long.  Taking a moment to smile after a job well done, or having coworkers gather daily to discuss their successes, can help keep morale higher than not acknowledging the good times.

Every Social Worker Needs a Vacation: Fighting Burnout

Ask for Help When Needed

Social workers are generally the ones who provide help to others, so it can seem foreign to ask someone for help yourself.  However, feeling buried under your workload, or having issues coping with particularly difficult cases, can start a downward spiral that ultimately ends in burnout.  If you are feeling overwhelmed in any part of your life, don’t be afraid to ask for help from coworkers, family, friends, or mental health professionals.  In the end, you’ll be thankful you did.

Be Aware of Secondary Trauma Stress

Secondary trauma stress occurs when the trauma of a client becomes difficult to manage.  It can have signs similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, but the source of the trauma is considered indirect.  Some know the condition as compassion fatigue, though experiencing an event vicariously through a client can also lead to symptoms.  While maintaining an emotional distance is often advised, it is not always easy to switch off that part of your brain.  This is one of those times when asking for help should be a priority, as the effects of the condition can have widespread implications in one’s life.

Maintain Healthy Habits

To keep yourself in the best condition to battle stress, it is important to maintain healthy habits.  Make sure to eat right and take time to exercise.  Keep a regular sleeping schedule, and try to meet recommended minimums on the majority of your days.  Don’t skip doctor or dental appointments if you are feeling unwell, even if you think you are too busy to go.  By taking care of your physical self, you will be better equipped to manage your other selves too.

Take Breaks

Every now and then, all people need a break from their daily grind; social workers are no different.  Make sure you reserve time to yourself.  Unplug from your work email or other job obligations and focus on your wellbeing.  Reconnect with friends and family, or take time off for a vacation.  If there is somewhere you always wanted to see, like Paris or Madrid, find Europe flights and plan a trip.  Sometimes, even knowing a break is on the horizon is enough to lift your spirits.…

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Keeping Your Clients Safe

Social workers are devoted to the health and well-being of their clients. In most instances that well-being revolves around emotional and mental health. However, the physical safety of your clients is just as important. Therefore, keeping yourself well informed of potentially injurious products is highly advisable.

When the swegway came out last year, it was the hottest item on the Christmas list agenda. However, the multitude of problematic issues have all but eliminated it from the market today. You can learn more about the swegway here. But, this is not the only product that could seriously injure your clients. It is time you learned more.

Keeping Your Clients Safe

Why Learn About Recalls?

While recall research is not typically part of the social worker’s agenda, it is something that should be considered. Why? Because your clients are actively involved in the world around them and as such, they might be inclined to purchase materials that could have drastic effects on their health and ability to attend your counseling sessions.

The swegway mentioned earlier, contributed to tons of broken bones and has even been known to start fires. If your clients sustain injury from a product like this, it is highly probable that they will be unable to participate in their therapy plans. It is also possible that the negative experiences could add to their already challenging bouts with depression and anxiety. Knowing what products have been recalled can allow you to protect your client’s fragile emotional positions as well as their physical condition.

Recalls You Should Know About

Although the swegway has not necessarily been included on the recall list, it has been determined to be dangerous and is therefore considerably more difficult to acquire than it was last year around this same time.

However, there are other products on the recall circuit that you should be well aware of. And, though you are not able to write prescriptions, knowing which medications are being recalled can aid you in protecting your clients too. The following items are on the recall lists:

  • Xarelto
  • Husqvarna lawn mowers (read more)
  • Khion ski boots
  • Barstools from LF Products
  • Chimparoo baby carriers
  • Armadillo strollers
  • Wildhorn Outfitters’ hammocks
  • Summer Infant infant bathtubs (learn more)
  • Gleason hand trucks
  • Vioxx
  • Accutane
  • Yaz
  • Risperdal
  • Invega (find more information here)
  • Sargent Arts’ craft paints
  • Glion electric scooters
  • Walmart tripod stools
  • Lenny Lamb infant carriers
  • Toys ‘R’ Us pacifier clips
  • SAHN Designs’ bicycle helmets
  • Graco Milestone child seats
  • COMBI child restraints

These are only a few choice examples of products that your clients might be utilizing in their daily lives. If you know that these brands and designs are being employed, you should assist your clients by letting them know that these products contain dangerous abilities.

In Summation

You went into the field of social work because you saw the potential for an individual’s social environment to either help, or hinder, his/her development. And, you recognized within yourself, the desire to make a difference in the lives of those around you. One way to do so is by keeping well-informed when it comes to those products added to recall lists. You can be a source of additional protection to your clients in this manner.…

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Rewarding social service project ideas

Community social service is simply an individual or a group of people doing something selfless for less fortunate people. It is a fantastic way to meet other like-minded individuals and to make a difference in the world. There are many ways to help those that sometimes cannot help themselves and it is incredibly rewarding at the end of the day to make a difference in someone else’s life. It is fun and interactive to make your chosen community service projects fun. Here are some incredibly rewarding projects that you can engage in and also involve other selfless individuals.

Arrange a race for charity

It is a known fact that people love getting involved in sporting activities nowadays and it would be a fun and interactive community social project to arrange a race for charity. Not only will you be able to collect funds for the less fortunate, you can also include everyone in the race which will come as a breath of fresh air to troubled individuals. Click here for some great ideas for your charity race.

Organize a wheelchair basketball game

This is by far one of the most rewarding social projects to take on. By allowing disabled individuals to participate in a game like basketball you will give them a feeling of belonging and also provide them with the platform to make friends and feel engaged. Be sure to arrange everything ahead of time with facilities that are suitable for disabled players.

Rewarding social service project ideas

Host a fun picnic for troubled teens

It is always a good thing to create a safe space for troubled teens to meet other challenged teens to interact and talk about their experience. A picnic is ideal simply because it involves time spent outdoors and is a fantastic environment for anyone. Be sure to take a look at http://pestkilled.com/how-to-get-rid-of-skunks/ for valuable tips on how to keep skunks away from your community service picnic.

Have talk out sessions

There is a great way to help traumatized people together. Have interactive talk out sessions in your community. Gather those people that need guidance to share their experiences with each other. It is therapeutic for troubled individuals to share their stories.

Host a motivational session

There are some great people with some great stories out there that will be more than willing to speak about their experience in love and how they were able to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. It will be a great exercise to host a motivational session where various motivational speakers can talk and tell their stories.

Children’s day

Host a children’s day where the main focus will be on children out of broken or abusive homes. Have counselors present to lend an ear but the day should mainly focus on the kids. Fill the day with fun and games in order to keep the little ones occupied with fun and interactive activities. There are many great games that you can feature.  Take a look here for some ideas for your fun children’s day.…

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Ways That You Can Be Socially Responsible

What do you think are the things that will make you be happy? You might think that you can be happy if you would wake up one day and have all the money in the world to buy everything that you desire. You may want to wake up one day and realize that you have already gained the respect of people that you consider to be important in your life but this is not always the case. You know that respect is not given, it is earned.

If you have different things but you are not feeling satisfied, it may be because you are not socially responsible yet. Perhaps you need to help other people more because without helping others, you will not be able to gain a sense of self worth. You do not have to wait for the holidays just to give people the help that they deserve. You can help people whenever you want to. Just remember that when you give, you should do it with all your heart.

Ways That You Can Be Socially Responsible

Remember that in order to become socially responsible, you do not need to do grandiose things. You can just check out Foundation for Defense of Democracies in order to gain some ideas about what you should do. Other things that you can do are the following:

  • Lend your skills to those who are in need.

When was the last time that you did some tutoring? You do not have to be paid to tutor but you can be of help to someone who is in need. It will be different if you would teach your child how to do some lessons. Perhaps you can go to some centers and teach other children some basic things during your spare time. You know that it will give you a sense of fulfilment even if you are not being paid to do it.

  • Help the elderly or the disabled.

Do you know that most elderly people are sad because they do not get enough visitors? Whenever you lend your time to visit with them and speak with them, they tend to feel better. They tend to feel good because you are paying attention to them. It may be a bit different for the disabled. Some physically challenged people do not want to get help from others but there are also some who would love the help that you can offer.

  • Prepare meals for the poor.

You know that there are some people in this world who are not able to eat three times a day. Now is your chance to give them the help that they need by making sure that they can eat. You can cook for them and give them food. Sometimes, you can stay in some centers wherein they can go for the food but there are also times when you can prepare food ahead of time and just give them the food when you see them. A lot of people would appreciate it.

Remember that when you help, you should not do it in order to gain recognition. You should not do it in order to show that you are good. You have to do this out of the goodness of your heart. If you are only doing it for show, then do not bother because it will not count.…

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Who to Look Out For and When to Get Insurance

Social work is a demanding career. You have the weight of the world’s emotional and social issues on your shoulders but you’re not as well compensated as others in the helping profession. Some days you might feel like everyone is out to get you and it’s not because you have paranoid delusions.

The world is an intensely anger-filled, vindictive place. The abundance of lawsuits makes you wonder if you need to hire a prominent lawyer like Martin Chitwood. And, sometimes the weird people you work with make you wonder if you need a bodyguard like Laurence Tureaud (Mr. T.).

Who to Look Out For and When to Get Insurance

Stay Away from these Guys/Gals

Anybody playing the politician in the office is worth avoiding. These people will schmooze their way right into your life and use any information they can get to surpass you in the ranks. Then there are the egomaniacs, who (like roosters) want to constantly crow about their own giftedness but will quite readily remain on the fence rather than make any useful decisions.

There are also people who thrive on negativity, they live their lives like funeral directors waiting for everyone else’s demise. Or you have probably come in contact with tattletales. They want to keep people gossiping and at each other’s throats. They probably work really well with the funeral director types and are best avoided at all costs.

Scorekeeping people are equally troublesome. They will remember the last time you borrowed a client form or an ink pen and will expect it to be replaced 7 fold. You’re better off getting assistance from someone else who won’t hold it over your head. To learn more about who to avoid at work read this.

Time for Some Insurance

The last thing you need at work is people trying to trip you up. But, they are not the only rabble rousers. Sometimes clients are dangerous too. You should consider these things when contemplating the need for malpractice insurance. Doctors aren’t the only ones who need that protection.

  • Determine if you need it. The biggest regret is thinking you don’t and then finding out you do. Having your own policy protects your interests even when a case falls under the agency’s policy. They are in it for themselves and you may be a casualty they are willing to endure.
  • How much will you need? Once you’ve decided a policy is in your best interest you’ll need to decide what amount of coverage is necessary. $1-$3 million is the recommended coverage amount.
  • Check the carrier. You need to ensure that the carrier of your policy is stable. You don’t want to invest a lot of money in an insurance policy that will go under when it’s time to put it into action. Check their ratings with organizations like A.M. Best. The historical stability of the company you choose should be part of the decision making process as well.
  • Don’t freak out. The idea of being sued for malpractice is indeed panic-inducing. However, statistics put social workers at a pretty low risk for being sued. You don’t prescribe meds and generally you don’t work with other types of high-risk clientele. This is just a preventative procedure on your part. You can learn more about malpractice insurance here.

Nobody wants to get sued. As a social worker, your heart is for people, but there are some that are best avoided as mentioned here. And, as a means of protecting yourself investing in malpractice insurance is a good plan. Take these things into consideration.…

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The Advantages of Doing Social Work

There are different professions that are available for people. Some people decide to take up medicine and become doctors while there are also some people like Martin Chitwood who become lawyers. People choose their professions depending on the following:

  • What they want to achieve in life – There are some people who are born achievers and they want to get the best out of all the things that they do.
  • What they truly want to do – People do not just become lawyers because they were forced to do so. They have to like it so that they can continue pursuing their dream.
  • What is expected of them – Some people are not forced to take up certain professions but they want to fulfil the expectation of their parents and family members.

What about you, what profession would you like to have? There are only a few people who are called to do social work but if you have already realized that this is something that you want to do, then knowing more about it will help.

The Advantages of Doing Social Work

If you would like to pursue doing social work but you are not sure what advantages you can get from it, here are some of the things that you can get from it:

  1. You will be able to make a difference with a lot of people’s lives.

You may be someone who has not experienced too many hardships before but you have become exposed to it enough to know that other people are going through some problematic situations every day. Whenever you give the type of help that people need, they will be grateful to you. The feeling of fulfilment that you will get will be hard to replicate when you do other things that are not related to doing social work.

  1. You will meet different people from all walks of life.

Do you know that one great way to become open minded about life is to meet people who are experiencing lives that are different from yours? When you become a social worker, you are not only meeting people that you are going to help, you will also meet other people who love doing social work. You can share stories about each other to get to know each other better.

  1. You will get flexible hours.

If one of your main reasons for having this type of job is because you know that you will not get stuck in the office like other people then this may be the right job for you. You can always decide what type of schedule you want. At the same time, you can also go to different places that you would never think of visiting before.

  1. You can be hired by different employers.

The great thing about social work is that you will not be limited to being under just one company. There are different companies and organizations that can hire you for the type of service that you can give. For example, you can be hired by a school one time and be hired by another organization next time.

With all of these benefits that you know you can get, are you already interested to start doing social work?…

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Distress and Social Work

You have completed your course work and passed your licensure testing, now you are ready to enter the world of compassionate yet, ethical, social work. Unfortunately, your teachers couldn’t and didn’t prepare you for the heartbreaking reality of your career.

When you face the anguish of a child victim of repeated sexual abuse, and the hollowness in the eyes of the child who watched his father murder his mother, something inside you will wonder if you have taken the wrong career path. And you’re not alone in that feeling. Many enter this field with high expectations of saving the world only to find the world weighs far too heavily on them.

Distress and Social Work

The truth is, the field of social work can bring great amounts of distress, trauma, and burnout and compassion fatigue (read about that here). So how do you keep trudging along and keep making a difference in the lives of your clients? Here are some steps to stay strong and continue caring at the same time:

Boundaries- Establish firm and steadfast boundaries for yourself and your clients. Don’t take on their struggles as your own and don’t allow your personal life to intrude upon your professional life (and vice versa). This is often easier said than done, but it is a necessity to maintain your emotional well-being.

Rest- Your job is harder than you probably ever realized. It’s important that you take time to rest. Make sure you have the best memory foam mattress on the market so that your sleep will always be rejuvenating. But also go on vacation, enjoy the ocean, the mountains, and the stars. Allow yourself to just take some time to unwind and refuel. You need time to yourself so don’t be afraid to take it.

Stay Connected- The easiest way to get overburdened and weighted down is to remain in isolation. Make sure you have established an excellent core group of people who are fun to be around, understand you well, and can support you when things get challenging. Allow them to show you the empathy, compassion and care that you are working hard to dole out. You will need that refreshment too.

Exercise- There is some evidence that supports the quote, “Move a muscle, change a thought.” Whenever the job gets overwhelming, makes you anxious, sad or feeling defeated, do something active. Exercise releases endorphins, remember? Those are the feel good hormones you need. Besides, when you are working out, running, hiking, etc. you won’t have time to focus on the ouches of the daily grind; your body will be speaking much louder. Click this for more information on the value of exercise for you.

Pray- Lift your concerns to God and allow the peace that passes understanding to fill you. That quiet time will be great for your mind and soul. You will find newly invigorated strength, faith and compassion supplied that will enable you to continue through the pain.

There are so many other recommendations for limiting the distress involved in the career of social work. You might want to read more about it as these are insights from professional social workers whom have been in their careers long enough to have learned a few things about how to keep themselves mentally and emotionally fit for the trying job they have.

Remember, “should” is a bad word. Don’t judge yourself against others, you’re each on your own journey. Just do your best, care well, and follow these suggestions.…

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How Social Workers Can Protect Themselves

Social workers are often exposed to upsetting information.  This can include evidence of incidences of abuse, neglect, and other mistreatment, as well as a variety of other crimes committed against a person.  With such things being at the forefront of their everyday work, it is important to protect yourself during your down time by ensuring those you surround yourself with are truly the people you believe them to be.

In order to better assess the people in your life, consider these tips for ensuring that everything is on the up-and-up before you invite someone new into your life.

How Social Workers Can Protect Themselves

Service Providers or Contractors

Many people don’t take a lot of time to investigate the people who they invite into their homes to perform services or complete various kinds of remodeling or construction work, even if investigating information is part of their daily work lives, as can be in the field of social work.  Failing to do so can compromise more than your financial security, but your general safety.

In order to make sure you hire the right person, or business, for the job, and that they are a legitimate company operating legally within your state, take the time to do the same level of research you would when investigating a social work issue at work.

For example, make sure the business is properly licensed and/or bonded as required by state law, and that the business has a permanent operating location within the area.  Take the time to get multiple bids, as a bid that is well below the average may be a warning sign of subpar work or materials.  If they ask for a deposit, make sure that it falls within the legal range as dictated by state law, and only consider working with an individual who creates a formal contract regarding the work to be performed.

New Personal Relationships

With the popularity of online dating continuing to rise, making sure that you take precautions before meeting someone new is critical.  Just as you would investigate accusations made against a person as part of your profession, extend some of those techniques to those you meet online.

One quick step is to complete a basic background check.  With the number of online background checking options available online, getting advice from a review site, such as http://backgroundhawk.com/ can help you figure out which options will work best for your situation.

Make sure that you meet the new person in a public place, especially for the first meeting.  This can help increase your overall safety by being near other people.  If possible, consider meeting during the day, when the sun is up.  Additionally, do not have them pick you up at your home, as this presents an extra level of risk.

When possible, if you must drive to the meeting location, park your car out of sight of the front of the business.  Instead, park in a well-lit, nearby area, as this will prevent the person you are meeting from being able to identify which car is yours.

When in doubt, call in some backup.  Just as you wouldn’t go to a home visit without someone being aware of your location, you can choose not to go to a meeting alone.  This can include having a friend or family member accompany you on the trip.  They can enter the meeting place separate from you, and sit in an area that gives them a direct line of sight to your location.  Once the meeting is complete, they can accompany you to your vehicle, ensuring you are never alone if things do not appear to be going well.…

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Try Therapeutic Photography

As a social worker you have been inundated with a vast amount of therapeutic suggestions. While you may not be considered a therapist, we all know that your job involves helping people in the best ways you can. Sometimes therapy can be fun and now you can explain the values of photographic therapy to your clients and colleagues.

Photography opens the door for people to share their feelings and ideas even when words evade them. Visual diaries are great ways to keep track of the journey to health and wellness. Photography for beginners might be a intimidating but with a little advice and practice even the least experienced photographers can convey emotion and ideas through the pictures they take.

Before we continue, let’s make sure we understand the difference between PhotoTherapy and therapeutic photography. The first is done in the midst of therapy and the latter is done as therapy. We are discussing the latter because social workers do not offer therapy but can suggest therapeutic methods to work through troubling situations.

Try Therapeutic Photography

Organizations that Support Therapeutic Photography

There are several organizations that are designed to assist and grow the area of therapeutic photography. These establishments seek to further the health and well-being of those they work with. So, when you are looking for ideas for your clients these are great resources:

  • Photovoice- Focusing on the marginalized and disadvantaged, this group utilizes photography as a tool for growth, empowerment and change. You can read more about them here.
  • PhotoSensitive- This collective of photographers is a non-profit organization focused on bringing social issues to the forefront of modern thought via provoking photography. If you’re interested in them you can read more.
  • PhotoTherapy Centre- This entity provides great advice about using photography as therapy. They also delve into the deeper issues and benefits of this form of therapeutic help. There’s more to learn about them here.

Photography Evokes Emotion

If you have ever taken the time to sit with an elderly individual and look through the pictures he/she has collected over the years, you have undoubtedly heard the stories and emotions attached to each one. Photography does just that, it tells us a story. And when people are asked to tell a story about their lives and emotions, through the lens, much can be revealed. Some can be healed.

Therapeutic photography opens the door to self-awareness and evaluation. It can reduce social exclusion by creating the catalyst necessary for people to interact with the world around them.  There are a number of additional benefits as well:

  • Improving family relationships
  • Strengthening communities
  • Activating positive social change
  • Improving intercultural relationships
  • Enhancing visual literacy skills
  • Sharpening education
  • Expanding research

Photography has more value than previously considered. If you think about your initial reaction to the idea of therapeutic photography you were probably a little cynical. What do old pictures have to do with healing hearts? Photos are more than the images on the page or the screen, they are the thoughts, story and emotion behind the image.

This is what makes a difference and can incite change in the lives of your colleagues and clients. In fact, it’s probably a great idea to try the method yourself. Join one of the therapeutic photography communities mentioned above, or elsewhere, and see if some of their projects don’t impact your life. Photography has power and now you can share.…

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Suicide Prevention Ideas for Social Workers

When the sadness gets overwhelming, when hard times lead to despair, some people turn to suicidal ideology. Social workers are actively involved in the lives of people in the midst of struggles. These struggles can oft times seem too much to bear. How can a social worker help when it comes to suicide prevention?

Before we consider some steps, let’s first understand that suicidal individuals often feel like they are alone in their misery. They are convinced of two things: no one cares and it is never going to get better. One of the best methods to aid in preventing suicide is being engaged in the lives of those around you. When we pay attention to people who are hurting we become more in tune with the signs that suicide might be on their mind. There are other ways to help as well…

Suicide Prevention Ideas for Social Workers

Help Prevent Suicide

No one wants to lose someone, but surviving the loss of someone who took his/her own life is far more devastating. There is always that surety that it could have been different, that somehow the event could have been stopped. Here are some possible ways to reach out to people considering suicide:

  • Look for the signs. People who have recently suffered some sort of trauma are at a potential risk. If they start talking about death, wanting to give things away, withdrawing, and talking about how alone and isolated they feel, it is probably time to get them some help.
  • Begin to help. Sometimes people just need you to be there and listen. They don’t want you to tell them how to fix it or give them pat answers. They want to know you understand how deeply they are hurting. Empathy is a tremendous assistant in these instances. Let them know you are concerned and if necessary seek professional help.
  • Don’t mince words. No one wants to hear you sugar coat the extremity of his/her pain. Ask him/her point blank if suicide is an option.
  • Determine capability. If they have admitted that suicide is on their minds, it’s time to assess the situation. Are they capable of killing themselves? Do they have access to the methods they’ve considered? If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, then more drastic measures are necessary.

Professional Alternatives

Sometimes you just aren’t prepared or equipped to handle the gravity of someone considering suicide. However, as a professional, you do have access to other entities that can provide that personal and confidential assistance to the person you are concerned about. Consider these organizations:

  • SAMHSA- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration- You can learn more about their programs and suggestions by clicking here.
  • NIMH- National Institute of Mental Health- Their recommendations are also valuable and can be read here.
  • Dove Press– Dove Medical Press- They will keep you abreast of all sorts of medical and social developments.

Understand that in your position as a social worker you are not alone. The weight of the world is not on your shoulders and sometimes you just can’t help. That’s why there are other professionals specifically trained to assist those with mental health issues. You can utilize the organizations above to better learn how to handle your clients whom are considering suicide as an option. As you have no doubt been told, suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary problem. You can help be part of the solution.…

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