I’ve come to realize that being a social worker requires the ability to let the world constantly chip away at you every day. And a social worker’s whole life is to make sure that they have a strong enough shield to not completely deteriorate.. and when you don’t have a lot to start off with, it makes the process of protecting yourself so much harder.
In a meeting with my field advisor today, he talked to me about the concept of detachment. I had heard of the word before but did not know exactly what it was. He explained to me that often, people tend to get too emotionally invested into the lives and problems of the people around them. For instance, someone who is the friend of an alcoholic may be too invested into their friend’s addiction, to the point where it is causing them distress. Detachment is when a person can be apart of someone’s life but not get too emotionally attached to that someone’s problem.
I had been struggling in my field placement for a couple weeks. The workers in my unit are extremely burned out. They are excited about getting their cases transferred because then they don’t have to deal with the family anymore, they talk down on the families, they focus on the negative, they would rather work with the “good” clients, etc. As a new worker coming into the field, I have been extremely distraught being in this environment. Especially coming from an undergrad program where social workers were so positive, I feel like I’ve been thrown into a whirlpool. But speaking with my advisor, and learning about the concept of detachment, I recognize that I really need to focus on that. I can’t focus on the negatives that I am hearing or else the environment will drag me down as well. I love the work that I am doing and I still believe that CPS can do so much. But, I also do understand that a broken system that is lacking in many resources can be frustrating to be apart of. I think about the reason why I want to be a worker though and I just can’t let go of wanting to work in this frustrating system. If everyone gave up on this system, children would be left to be even more vulnerable and parents would never learn how to be better parents.
And so, from now, I choose detachment. I choose to not let the negative bring me down. I choose to be positive and strength based. Because if I let the enviroment take away my passion, then I’m not doing myself justice. I would be letting myself down and I know that ten years down the road, I will regret not having stuck with my passion. And if the road ends up burning up in flames, at least I tried.