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Visiting the Daybreak Family Centre gave me the opportunity to learn more about social services in reality. Albeit not having the chance to interact with their clients because we were untrained, I had a fruitful discussion session with the social workers there. “Learning in social work isn’t a linear process,” shared one of the social worker. Theories though being taught in school – seems like there is an accurate answer – social work is not a mere transfer of learning. With real clients, it takes time to generate solutions. Some lessons can only be self-discovered through experiences. Since social workers usually deal with case-works, this provided me another insightful take-away of the importance of self-reflection – which allows most practitioners to explore reasons they response in certain ways, helping to create self-awareness of own strength and weaknesses. Social workers too have attitudes, past and prejudices that will affect their responses to certain things. Without learning from oneself and acknowledge all these, it will be exceptionally difficult for social workers to assist clients effectively. These social workers shared that critical reflection allows them to form new perspective of the situation, understand themselves better and hence, advance.
In social services, the importance of maintaining confidentiality and establishing professional boundaries could not be emphasizes enough. Also, bearing in mind, social workers cannot overpower clients, make assumptions or put own expectations on them. I have learnt that only when appropriate, can then a social worker take more control of clients’ lives. Social services focus on client’s self-determination. Clients ultimately have to be responsible of the decisions they make. Social workers cannot allow a particular incident to affect them so as to continue their profession.
It is apparent that females mainly dominate the social work profession. It struck me on how this negatively impacted the manpower issue. In particular, the root cause of delinquency is the distant-father-figure at home. The general consensus that men are more likely to be receptive towards other men in this issue causes a greater demand for male social workers. Unless the society takes a step forward and change this delusion that social work is a “voluntary-work”, not a profession, it will be rather difficult to ameliorate this situation. This general misconception has to be addressed meritoriously.
On a side note, all the social workers I have meet were like angels, kind-hearted, understanding and never failed to wear on a big-smile!