What Are You Holding On To?

by Daniel Jacob, MSW

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As my thoughts turn into words, I am empowered with another opportunity to share inspiration after receiving the quote (and intended message) you will notice to the left.  So I ask, what are you holding on to?  We all find ourselves in this state at times, it’s not something that any one person is void of.  However, what differs amongst us varies; the triggers, our reaction, and our coping mechanisms to name a few.  Some would imagine that just because you’re in a role (and career) that helps others manage their own issues, that you may not really have any of your own…  Well, we know that is not the case, and thus I digress.

When you work as a helping professional you are exposed to so many influences and triggers that often can produce these emotions, and often times it’s not even at a conscious level when it arrives.  So, I ask what are you holding on to?  When you recognize what it is and how you can live with it while learning from it, you can move forward.  None of this can be true, if you are not living and breathing (in and out of your professional role) which equates to your self-care and well-being.  You see, when you take the necessary steps to be well, you are more than likely in that space and place where you want to be well, believe you can, and thus commit to the necessary work.  Does this mean you will never experience moments when you are confronted with this emotion (that we all visit from time to time)?  No, what this means is that when you experience such emotions you will most likely be aware and mindful of the what, how and why, and your ability to address it in a healthy manner.  Sounds pretty straightforward, but as we do sometimes, we can complicate the process.  This is when challenges stay around longer they have to…

You can’t always control the situation, but once again there is much that you can control.  It begins with a determination to be on the page that has you thinking for the right thing without overthinking the moment.  If you are with my intention, then just maybe the next time you are faced with the emotion that you just can’t avoid, you will understand where you are at in a much more clear manner and see exactly what are you holding on to? 

We are exposed to some very complex and ingrained stressors within our efforts to help others change for the better.  With that we take on more than we know at times, and as we attempt to breathe and exhale we don’t always see the support necessary to help one move forward.  Does this mean there is none to find?  No, what it means is that you first must be available to see it, and then you must strive to find and create what will only help you help yourself.  We are all works in progress, and If we choose to look at our life as such then we are able to embrace any and all stressors that present themselves, including that story from the past, the one that is rarely shared but can continue to present challenges if not dealt with appropriately.  Those that are familiar with my writing understand that what I choose to point out is influenced by living through it and learning from it, in addition to what I have observed through the lens of a social worker that cares about his fellow helping professional.  You see, often one’s inability to give and provide in a positive, effective and sustainable manner is not due to a lack of skill, desire or passion, it’s most likely a result of what are you holding on to?

As you transition into your weekend stay strong, stand up and stay up.  No matter where you are at, or what you just can’t seem to shake, opportunity is waiting as long as you can see it!

Thank You More Please!

by Daniel Jacob, MSW: Founder of Can You Hear Me?

Thank you more please!  This is what I tell myself when gratitude comes my way, often reminding myself that I must say it more… You see, when we stop and pause (as we often should) we can easily remind ourselves of all that we have. This is exactly where my thoughts are as I recently had the opportunity to disconnect for several days, and I thought thank you more please!

Along with several of my brothers I ventured to Death Valley National Park to explore and breathe easy, while disconnecting from the attachment that consumes us all from time to time.  I had never been to the valley with death in its name or had any real knowledge of this land that I came to embrace.  As many do, the association to the desert is often; hot, dry, sand and factors that don’t necessarily equate to comfort.

However, what I was exposed to was perfect weather, amazing landscapes and the kind of peace that permeates gratitude.  My experience may have been a little different as our group ventured off the grid (an hour off the main highway in the park) accessible only by vehicles equipped to make this kind of trek.  Therefore, the remoteness of our camp provided all of us with a welcome that you just can not always receive when you are in the midst of it, thank you more please!  As I write I reflect on how fortunate that I am to have these kind of opportunities, with a support system that is and wants to be on the same page adding to their own individual works in progress, while helping me support my own.

Thank you more please!  As I have transitioned back into my reality this week there was an adjustment period.  After all being away from allWhat are you grateful for today? devices and communication efforts, not to mention the contact with others, interchanging systems and all of the moving parts that can distract and persuade, I made sure of being mindful and aware.

This is something that we all must make time for, the opportunity to detach and disconnect.  It doesn’t have to be a grand plan complicated by time and money. It can be as simple as the experience I had, or the one that YOU come up with that fits into your reality.

However, the most important factor here is- that you make the effort and do it!  When we choose to live the quality of life that fully supports our self-care and well-being we are able to move forward and toward a better day.  Here are some healthy habits to support this process, ones that can and will help you help yourself, thank you more please!

Until we meet again, may these words find you well with opportunity and gratitude on your side.  The life that you want to live is always influenced by the life you choose to live.

Macro Community Practice: Why It Can’t Be Separated From Politics

What is macro community practice, and what does it have to do with politics? Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I often engage in political discussions with my @swhelpercom Twitter account. Most people outside of social work are often glad to see a social worker engaged in the conversation because these discussions involve Medicare, Social Security, Mental Health, and Welfare programs. They view us as the experts in these areas because we are the implementers and providers within those programs.

Social workers are the largest provider of mental health services in the United States, yet we are not at the table when experts are gathered by the government to reform these various systems. Who is the blame for social workers being absent from the policy making table which will overwhelmingly affect our ability to provide services to the people we serve? Macro community practice by definition is instituting programs and policies to increase the outcomes of the service community. Macro community practice focuses on using program evaluation and evidence based practices to gather essential data to identify areas for improvement.

Unfortunately, many social workers in both the US and abroad do not believe social workers should engage in politics. On several occasions, I have been told by other social workers that it’s inappropriate for me to engage in political conversations or advocate from a political point-of-view because social work is not political or it must be engaged in a nonpartisan way. Social Work is a profession much like teaching and law enforcement in the respect that our jobs are intrinsically linked to government funding.

Our Human Services system is in desperate need of reform, resources, and funding. However, is it reasonable to expect politicians with no human service or social work experience to see these systems as a priority especially without a union to protect our interests?

Recently, I had a brief conversation with a social carer in the United Kingdom (UK) on Twitter, and I responded in 140 characters of course. My main point in the conversation is that legislative policy dictates practice, and we must have advocates in public offices who are sympathetic to the plight of social workers/social carers in order to get system changes that are supportive of social workers.

I don’t know a single social worker who won’t agree that the system is broken and changes are needed to improve the quality of services to clients, work conditions, and pay for social workers. Macro community practice is designed to look at system changes that will impact service delivery at all levels. However, macro community practice is not a concept that should be viewed from the top down rather than the inside out. No matter our specialty or the demographics we serve, micro/direct practice should never be separated from macro practice.

For a macro community practitioner to be effective we must challenge systematic oppression as well as oppressive policy and laws creating barriers and limiting our clients’ ability to improve their outcomes. When can still help one client at a time, but how we vote and who will be put in office will determine the fate of our profession.

Social Work Month: Proud to Be One

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

social work monthAs we honor National Social Work Month, I thought it would be fitting to share some words…  There was a period in my life when my direction was far from having a career as a social worker.  In retrospect, it is so fitting that I had to be empowered along the way, moving towards self-determination in order to find my true calling, helping others change for the better!  I can say with my whole heart that I am proud to be a social worker, and I welcome every opportunity that presents itself to share, expose, and advocate for the profession that has given me so many wonderful lessons and experiences.

I can give you many reasons why social workers are important, but what I really want to share is how this profession helps those in need, as well as those who serve.  I have always maintained that there is no greater feeling than when you see “change for the better” happen right in front of you.  That moment where the individual (or family) you are supporting gets it, and thus the door towards opportunity has been opened.  To be part of this outcome is empowering, and the mutual process that transpires for both parties is truly rewarding for all.  Yes, of course there are tremendous challenges, obstacles and barriers involved with this work, but this in itself is just another opportunity to utilize your skill sets, training, experience and wisdom to help you grow and further develop.

I love being a social worker, having the opportunity to continue to evolve and work on my craft, while improving my personal and professional    self (in order to better serve those in need) is inspiring.  Having the ability to facilitate change for the better, an outcome that can transform for years, on to others and within communities and organizations is powerful.  This profession is not for all as we know, but for those that it is, there are no further words needed other than I am proud to be one!  Until we meet again be well to yourself, because when you are, your impact on those you serve will be as well!

Photo Credit: National Association of Social Workers

Bradley Cooper and the Center for American Progress on Mental Health

Celebrity and Hollywood actor, Bradley Cooper, could have used his talk show appearances to only promote his new movie Silver Linings Playbook, but instead he also saw it as an opportunity to spread awareness on mental health issues.

Bradley Cooper in conjunction with the Center for American Progress, former Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy, and other leading mental health professionals convened a press conference to discuss the stigmas associated with mental illness which was first reported on by the Huffington Post.

I knew after reading the article, the conference video was a valuable piece of information that needed to be shared. Additionally, I had seen Bradley making the rounds on MSNBC , but I must admit that I had not seen the movie. To be thorough, I decided to see the movie before sharing the informational video attached to below this article.

I kept hearing this movie was the best movie of the year. Well, the same was said for Les Miserable, Zero Dark Thirty, and Lincoln all of which I have seen. Normally, I don’t go see movies dealing with this type of subject matter because I’ve already seen more than my share from work.

To my chagrin, this is undoubtedly one of the best movies I have ever seen. As a social worker, the main characters, Pat and Tiffany, have been my client at one time or another with their explosive behaviors, extreme highs, and extreme lows as well as bouts with law. This movie not only captures reality, but it gave these characters humanity, dignity and respect. Often, our clients may be one case out of the 15 others cases on our service, and it can create many challenges in developing one on one connections with each client.

This movie reminded me about the complexities of living with mental illness for the individual and their family. People struggling with mental health disorders don’t spin out of control from a lack of desire to get better.  Access to resources, health care, support, and basic care are vital for them to achieve their best-self.  In the movie, both Pat and Tiffany live with their parents which provided a safe space for them to work full-time on their mental illness.

The movie utilized a holistic approach between the court system, hospital, therapist, and family in providing treatment options for Pat which allowed him to find his silver lining.  Imagine if Pat was homeless and without healthcare while dealing with pending charges he had in the movie? It would have been another episode of Cops instead of an uplifting movie about overcoming challenges due to mental illness.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I would advise every practitioner, student, and aspiring student to go see it. I left the movie theater feeling proud to be apart of the social work profession despite the many challenges we face ahead in providing quality care to vulnerable populations.

Here is an excerpt from the Huffington Post article:

Silver Linings Playbook is such a personal movie for David and when we all came together, it became a personal movie for all of us. Tiffany, she serves as a catalyst and she’s the first person who actually sees who Pat is. That’s the thing that this film has done, people around this country who have seen this film say “this film actually sees who I am” because it’s heavily stigmatized, its not a very treatable disease and it’s a condition that is diagnosed way too late. So hopefully, a movie like this will help it become in the onset. That the best thing about this movie, that its able to reach out and make people feel included. ~ Bradley Cooper

I have included the video of the panel discussion on mental health at the Center for American Progress for your review:

Back To Reality

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

inspirationLike many of you out there, I have faced the transition back this week, and all that this can provide.  Having the time away to breathe and re-focus while enjoying time with family and friends has been a benefit to say the least.  However, there is a point when you realize that this will come to an end and it is time to get back to your reality, one that can create a level of stress that does not always find us in a relaxed and comfortable state.  This state can be attributed to much, but primarily it is rooted in what we choose to create as that “something” that we see as negative, challenging, uncomfortable, and…  This energy that we create becomes more of a discomfort and sure enough we bring it right into our transition back.  Now think about how this would not only impact our self, but the service and support that we (as helping professionals) strive to provide to those in need.  Our line of work is to help others change for the better, and if we are off, I can guarantee you that our clients will be able to feel and see such.  As I have said before, just because those we serve in need are challenged in areas that prevent them from living a healthy and adjusted life, it does not mean that they are not aware of our presence and availability to help them help themselves. Sure, you can put yourself on auto pilot (“I can work with clients with my eyes closed”) but is that really the standard you set for your self and the work you have chosen to provide?
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion,
some humor,and some style”  
~Maya Angelou

I hope I have you thinking in a manner that has you reflecting on what you value, believe, and know to be true in order to have an effective practice.  At times of transition (post holidays/time off) there is an adjustment period that we must embrace, but how you choose to do so is the underlying focus here.  I would encourage you to focus on what you can control, while acknowledging what you are experiencing.  The more you resist and reinforce what you can not control (“I wish I was still off from work”) you will find yourself in that place and space that does not have you present and available.  I recommend that you focus on your self-care, now is not the time to make excuses or suppress what you need to be able to give to yourself.   As with everything that one perceives as a challenge, if you negatively reinforce the experience, you exacerbate the problem.  It’s when you work towards a solution in a healthy and positive manner that you move forward and toward a better day.  This is the place you want to find yourself at, when you arrive here you not only feel empowered, but more than likely you will be modeling this intention to those in need you are trying to reach!  So, as you finish up the first week back, or find yourself preparing to return, may these words find you available to receive.

Be well out there, keep walking with your head up and heart open and you will…

Capability vs Ability

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

Change…  It sounds so simple, people use it often on a daily basis as a way to correct, improve outcomes, gain knowledge, etc.  However, I believe the greatest reward associated with positive change, is the ability and capability to move forward.  We are all capable of having positive change in our lives, but often we are not able in making it happen.  Reflect on that statement for a moment.  Having personally and professionally  had several opportunities to help others change for the better, I use this example in the most clear and straightforward manner that I can.

If you are in a state where your path in life is just a series of roadblocks with no sight of an opening, you often feel stuck, hopeless and helpless.  At this point you may not see change for the better as a way out because you are so frustrated, angry, tired, and all the other feelings associated with a life filled with roadblocks.  Your too physically and mentally drained to even think about taking action, and often many  convince themselves that it is easier to keep on suppressing.
This is where the work part comes into play.

You yourself have the answers, you just can’t see them, and instead of moving towards a plan of positive change, you settle for being stuck.  This makes sense as I have mentioned prior it is easier to settle for being stuck.  It is hard, very hard to do the necessary work to get unstuck and move through and forward.  So, when I say that we are all capable of change for the better we are.  We are just not always able.  This is the underlying message in it all.  Capability vs Ability.  If you just look at those two words and there meaning, you hopefully can see the solution to getting through those roadblocks.  You can see that there is a way to change for the better.

Furthermore, you have to really understand and remember that you must be patient with the process, you must!  While changing for the better is the hardest work that you will ever face, it does not happen quickly and often in the time frame that most desire. This is why we often have setbacks because we become frustrated or nonbelievers to the process when we don’t see it happening as quick as we would like.  Well, ask yourself what option is better?

To have a life filled with negative outcomes and opportunities fueled by the actions and behavior that are creating such?  Or have a life (still with challenges and roadblocks, life does not provide a challenge/stress free existence) filled with positive outcomes and opportunities influenced by your ability to trust the process, be patient with it, and implement the appropriate skills/tools needed in order to change for the better?

My hope is that this example can provide you with an understanding that life is a series of learning opportunities that allow YOU to determine the quality of your life.  It is up to you and the choices you make that will move you forward, or keep you back.  I hope these words can provide that opening so that you will be able to start the process of changing for the better, with the understanding that the person writing this is the same person who had to learn this lesson, and will continue to.  Until we meet again may you be well to your day, and the day shall be well to you.

Anti-Oppressive Social Work Practice in Mental Health

by Anish Alex MSW, RSW

Current mental health approach in Canada is a shift from the traditional mental health services to a community based Psychiatric rehabilitation (Steele, et al., 2007). The guiding philosophies of community mental health rehabilitation are empowerment, competence and recovery. This approach is a combination of ecological and progressive system models. There are various theoretical perspectives in the social work practice in a community mental health rehabilitation setting such as developmental theories, personality theories and practice theories. Generally practice theories are predominantly used such as psychodynamic theories, cognitive-behavioural theories, humanistic theories, and postmodern theories.A conversion of conceptualized anti-oppressive perspective into real life and values of practices required a connection between theory and practice in the area of community mental health. Even though postmodern theories are being used; the overriding perspective in the ground of mental health is a bio-psycho-social model (Diaz-Granados et al., 2010).

Oppression Can Only Survive Through SilenceAs an anti-oppressive social work practitioner, I have to define my theoretical understanding about the fundamentals of anti-oppressive practice like egalitarianism and social justice. The principles for specific practice behaviour and relationships that minimize power imbalances and promote equity and empowerment would help me to practice an anti-oppressive social work among mental health consumers (Larson, 2008). As Larson (2008) explains, during the psychiatric intervention, workers need to develop a service plan component which includes treatment plan, vocational service, peer support and life skill training in full participation with the service user.  Jennifer Martin (2003, as cited in Larson, 2008) suggests that anti-oppressive practice stands for social justice and criticizes the current social relations which are promoting social injustice especially in social work practice. Anti-oppressive practice basically addresses power imbalance and promotes change in the power relationship. This practice includes a self reflection, understanding of the oppressor and oppressed and critical evaluation of entire intervention process in terms of nature of relationships between worker and client (Larson, 2008). It also include a set of behaviours’ and /or skills of the practitioner in harmony with specific clientele circumstances.

A clear and conscious consideration of my social location will perhaps helps me to avoid the reproduction of ‘power over’ relationship with my clients; it also reinstate the connectedness with the client problem. Critical self reflection includes a critique on our own assumptions, values and believes (Hickson, 2011).  As Fook & Askeland (2006) explained critical self reflection is the manifestation of critical theories and it is the reflection through the lens of critical thinking (as cited in Hickson, 2011). I believe that critical self reflection is an approach to personal as well as professional practice to integrate or reintegrate and make sense of own believes and assumptions. I learned that progressive practice on the ground of critical and postmodern theories are possible in various social work fields including mental health, in spite of the dominance of medical model. Social work profession with its theory, practice and research and with a holistic approach needs to develop a primary alternative to mainstream mental health approaches (Morley, 2003).

A study conducted by Arboleda-Flórez & Stuart (2012) found that stigmatization degrades the value of people with mental illness. A social and professional support system need to be created to support mental health consumers and provide proper services. Anti-stigma approach needs to be practiced in all levels of mental health services. Social workers can be a strong partner in the initiative of anti-stigma practice and do advocacy for equitable treatment for service users from the mental health service system as well as from the society. Moreover social worker should be aware about own behaviour that could reproduce stigmatization (Steele, Dewa, & Lee, 2007).  Educate general public about the myth and misconception about mental illness; also resist and protest the negative representations. I think anti-stigma initiatives will not only help the service users but also increase the credibility of social work profession (Arboleda-Flórez, & Stuart, 2012).

I found that mental health field in Canada have some dominant construction of social work practice and limited space for progressive thoughts. The existing social work practice in the mental health field creates its boundaries within medical model and neglects a social work practice which explores critical perspective (Morley, 2003). Critical social work helps people to understand the dominant ideology discourse and relocate subjectively in to that discourse. It will empower people to reconstruct their socially constructed identity and engage in social change process. However, this process will possibly enable people to challenge the existing dominant ideologies and deconstruct the social status quo order.

As a social worker, I think it is my responsibility to assist my clients to deconstruct the dominant discourses which are maintaining social orders and power relations. From a critical point of view, I understand the need for raising consciousness about structurally oppressive factors which are influencing the use of mainstream mental health services through my social work interventions with service users and communities.

Conclusion

 An equitable distribution of the mental health service sector requires more targeted inclusionary strategies and beneficial approaches. We must strengthen the link between need of assistance and use of mental health services. In addition, it is important to develop a comprehensive policy to promote the use mental health services among those who are marginalized and in need of assistance. The influencing factors for mental health service use and determinants are varied in various studies; the common themes are stigmatization, lack of role in the treatment process, power imbalance, culture and lack of knowledge about the system. An approach with an anti-oppressive perspective can make changes in mental health service sector. A critical approach in mental health field is inevitable to make the field more accessible to general public. I think multiple approaches can bring mental health as a priority area in social policy discourse. According to Larson (2008) anti-oppressive social work practice in mental health field faces numerous challenges. An alternative thought from the existing dominant “marginalized and pathologies” (p.44) model can make significant changes in service user’s life. Above all, though this framework is truly motivating the social work professionals especially those who are just out from the universities, the existing dominant system in the mental health field is not supportive (Larson, 2008) thus it is important to fill the gap between theory and practice.

References

Arboleda-Flórez, J., & Stuart, H. (2012). From Sin to Science: Fighting the Stigmatization of Mental Illnesses. Canadian Journal Of Psychiatry57(8), 457-463.

Diaz-Granados, N., Georgiades, K., & Boyle, M. H. (2010). Regional and Individual Influences on Use of Mental Health Services in Canada. Canadian Journal Of Psychiatry55(1), 9-20.

Hickson, H. (2011), Critical reflection: reflecting on learning to be reflective, Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives12(6), 829-839.

Khandelwal, S. K., Jhingan, H. P., Ramesh, S. S., Gupta, R. K., & Srivastava, V. K. (2004). India mental health country profile. International Review Of Psychiatry16(1/2), 126-141. doi:10.1080/09540260310001635177

Larson, G. (2008). Anti-oppressive Practice in Mental Health. Journal Of Progressive Human Services19(1), 39-54. doi:10.1080/10428230802070223

Morley, C. (2003). Towards critical social work practice in mental health. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 14(1), 61–84.

Anish Alex MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker who currently attends Ryerson University. You can visit his blog at http://anishalex.blogspot.ca/.

Give and Receive

by Daniel Jacobs, MSW

When you give you receive.  How do I know this?  I am fortunate to be witness to it, with the availability and awareness to recognize the opportunity I am presented with!  If you can see it then the openings will continue to show themselves.  I’m writing today from the mountains (the picture to the right is the visual) and couldn’t ask for a better place and space to share from.  Today my reflection and words are influenced from having the recent opportunity to give and receive with aspiring social workers to be.  I’m wrapping up with my year serving and supporting MSW students with their field education practicum, so the reflection and evaluation process is in full effect.  This process, one that has involved guiding, teaching, empowering, and supporting has truly provided me with opportunity!  You see, when you teach, there is a dual process going on, as both the teacher and student are learning.  As it has been stated “when one teaches two learn”  and this is something that I have come to embrace! by Daniel Jacob, MSW I think back from time to time about the days when I was so far removed from the place that I find myself in today.  My journey as they say has taken me from barely graduating high school, to working as a warehouse worker, using and abusing, just getting by with no plausible direction to achieve. I transitioned from this world into the field of construction where I learned so many difficult but necessary lessons. This is where I learned about work ethic, responsibility, and the ability to gain strength from being educated the hard way within a culture and population of tough cats.  Then something wonderful happened along the way, I found that true learning and living come from the experience and the opportunity to fall, rise, and work towards progress through the most difficult and challenging circumstances!  It was at this stage in my life that it all slowed down for me.  It was at this point in time that I made a decision to change my life for the better and so… I began to educate myself while being immersed into the world of work to survive and pay the bills, and go to school in my spare time if you get what I am saying?  When I think about the past several months and the work I have been a part of, it empowers me in many wonderful ways.  I am able to bring the influences in my life that have shaped and guided me through effort, perseverance, patience, and resilience and give and receive in the process.  I am able to tap into the challenges and difficulties of my students and with out saying much, I convey to them that I understand, “I get it” while validating that “I hear you.” Yes indeed the ride has been amazing because of much… I own my story, and because I am able to better help myself, in turn I am able to help others in a positive, effective, and sustainable manner!  Life is really how you see it, use it, and learn from it.  If you take your story and all that goes into the process that shapes and influences you, and you are able to use it to change your life for the better, then the opportunities that present themselves will be of use.  If you do the opposite and approach the situation with the idea that you are not receiving what you want or need, then you are working against your most difficult of opponents, YOURSELF!   May these words find you in that place and space that has you well.  As you move closer to the holidays, may you continue to give and receive, because when you do I know you will see that all of the wonderful gifts that life affords are available. Head up and heart open!

Practice What You…

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

You ever have one of those moments when you are in the midst of it all, and then you stop and…  Life is so much about just that, the ability to pause, and catch yourself immersed into that cycle of challenge that often takes on a force and direction of its own.  The next step, the most important of all, is up to you.  This week I had one of these moments that allowed me to pause, breathe, and take another opportunity to practice what I know to be the only way.  My week has been a busy one, several projects going on at the same time, all of which are dependent on the collaboration and interaction with others. This in itself was the source of my challenge, waiting on others in order to move forward with something that I was prepared for, ready for, and waiting for!  I put myself in a state that had me sorting through, figuring out, and contemplating what I had no control over; another persons timing, work ethic, inability to effectively follow through and communicate.  All of these factors, and perhaps others that I do not need to further acknowledge had me in that vulnerable place, with my hope and being unable to complete my duties, and thus meet my own expectation. 

“All the advice in the world will never help you until 
you help yourself.” 
~ Fred Van Amburgh
  
If you‘ve been a follower of mine for some time now then you may of have heard me discuss the idea of our own “expectation” and how this can ultimately lead to further challenge and difficulty if you are unable to meet it.  You see, when you recognize that it is your “expectation” and it doesn’t always act accordingly, realistically, practically, and any other word that ends in “ly” that may fit this example, you are able to understand.  The source of my challenge and subsequent stress was indeed not being able to meet my expectation, and the experience of frustration and disappointment that presented themselves as a result.  So, I had to implement what I am able to practice because I have acquired the necessary tools and skills to do so.  I had to acknowledge, recognize, and appreciate where I was at!  I had to practice what I speak to, and what I empower and support others to do in similar circumstances.  I was now the student, and my lesson and further learning was calling my name.  I had to stop, breathe, and remember that everything will work itself out, no matter how it plays out I am still here, I am still giving and receiving, and I am still able to accomplish my goals at hand.  Therefore, it is unnecessary to create more stress for myself and my overall well-being needs, and it is time to let this one go! 
 
“No matter what happens, it is within my power to 
turn it to my advantage.” 
~ Epictetus 
 
I cannot be in the position to help others change for the better, if I myself do not practice what I know to be true.  I am here to say and share that the learning and opportunity to add further to our awareness is present at all times, as long as you are able to see it.  I have embraced the path that I am on, helping others change for the better, but I am nowhere to be found in the process of, if I can‘t help myself.  So, as you reflect and digest my words for the week, may this find you in that place and space that can help you help yourself, while continuing to move forward.  Thank you for affording me the opportunity to be heard.  There have been many rewards involved in my efforts to help others, and one of them is the ability and opportunity I have been given to help myself. I aspire to do many great things within this field, and I will always complement that with the self work that I continually put into action, because without me at my best, I have no chance to reach those in need!  May the weekend be well to you, and you be well to your time to breathe Until we meet again
 
 There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” 
~ Denis Waitley 
 
 

Learning New Things!

By Daniel Jacob, Founder of Can You Hear Me?
I am so pleased to be back after taking a little break for the Thanksgiving holiday.  I am hoping that your holiday time treated you well, allowing for some time to breathe, reflect, and connect with those you hold close to your heart.  As we approach the end of another year, it presents us with that opportunity to look back, acknowledge what we have gained, what we choose to build upon, and what may come next.  As with all of my writings I use my own experience, as well as the learning that I receive through the eyes of others.  This week I find my inspiration coming from two sources.  One is from a book I read over the recent break, and another came to me yesterday from a fellow helping professional.  Both sources shared something in common, although the experiences are different, they both demonstrated the wonderful changes that come with learning new things…
One of the driving influences that I bring into my model of service is the need for self work.  When you are able to work towards progress, improving and expanding your experiences, awareness, and so much more, this leads towards valuable growth and development that not only impacts your personal self, but your professional practice and your ability to facilitate change for those in need. Therefore, it is not solely about learning new things, but how you apply what you have learned to change parts of your self in positive ways. I had no knowledge of the book How Starbucks Changed My Life until I came across it in the book store.  After reading the cover I knew I would learn some things.  It wasn’t necessarily a desire to learn about the world of Starbucks (although I now have a better understanding/appreciation of their model, opportunities for their partners, and attention to service) but a story about loss, prejudices, respect, change, race, age divisions, and friendship that I would be exposed to within these pages.  As a social worker and participant observer it was exactly the kind of story that empowers and inspires me through the example of the life change that presents itself through challenge. It was the learning that comes with being witness to overcoming in a manner that impacts the quality of one’s life circumstances.  It was another opportunity to add to my “work in progress” while reinforcing the idea that change comes when we do the work, while accepting and not resisting!
The other source of inspiration came from a comment that I received from someone that I have connected with through my Can You Hear Me? efforts. It was in response to our Learning Through Your Eyes Series and was truly rewarding as it demonstrated what I know to be possible when you are available to receive and embrace the change that comes with learning new things.  It was about the learning of oneself and how this translates into effectively helping others change for the better.  It was about stepping out of your comfort zone and working with a client that you never thought you could, but now you realize the gifts that you received as a result of this work.  It was about recognizing and acknowledging the difference that is made by just showing up.  These comments resonated with me because these outcomes are the true rewards of our practice, without judgement or vulnerability they showcase exactly why one chooses to be in this profession, and the benefits of such.  I am hoping that these comments will lead to more sharing and an opportunity for others to see an opening that will touch their own personal self, and professional practice.  You can see the entire comment on our facebook page.

As you move into the end of your week, may the words that I have shared allow you to feel heard, while providing you with further opportunities to work towards progress.  Be the change, learn new things, and you will receive wonderful benefits in return.  Head up and heart open, until next time…

This is a contribution by Daniel Jacob, Founder of Can You Hear Me? His latest project and a real opportunity to empower, support, and instruct helping professionals. Currently, he provides instruction and support as an External Field Instructor for MSW students in the distance learning program at the USC School of Social Work.]  Can You Hear Me? Blog  and  Can You Hear Me? Website

Transitioning Into Opportunity

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

Op-por-tu-ni-tya situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal,a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success.  This is the definition that comes straight out of the dictionary.  However, the meaning can have different references, understanding, and attachments depending on how we see it.  This is exactly what has been in my thoughts as I strive to empower, support, and instruct.  It has come up in recent discussion as I am currently working with several MSW students who are at the end of their program requirements, set to transition into opportunity.  What will this transition look like?  What opportunities will present themselves?  How can I cope with the uncertain and unknown?  Will I be ready?  These are just some of the questions that come up as one prepares to transition into opportunity.  A process that can provide challenge, learning, and much needed growth!

 

It is important to recognize that there are two different processes going on here.  One would be transition (the idea of change) and the other would be the opportunity that will present itself.  You have to be able to respect the change, and the various forces that come with it, while being open to the idea of the possibilities and learning that can present themselves, this is opportunity.  The difficult part here is that change and the uncertain/unknown are often factors that produce fear, anxiety, and other stressors that can (and do) impact us in a challenging manner.  Therefore, what I speak to, and what I believe is often lost when we are immersed into the idea of transition (change) are the opportunities that we don’t plan for or expect.  How many times have you heard “I never thought this would happen, but I am so grateful/happy/excited/ that it did.”  What this means is that the expectation that you felt was necessary, had to be in place, and hoped for was not the one that presented itself.  What this means is that what you wished for, what you thought you needed to have, and what may have been causing some undue pressure didn’t even make it off the ground.  You see, no matter what the opportunity is, the unknown or predicted, they are both opportunities.  I point this out to all of my students, and to any and all that can hear me, embrace the change, welcome the opportunity, whatever that may be, and use it in a manner that will empower you, support you, and move you forward to that place that will allow you to thrive!  
As I have come to learn, through many of life’ lessons, there are opportunities that may not always equate to success or achievement (in the traditional sense) but these are the opportunities that will provide you with many rewards. These are the opportunities that will enhance your development, empower you, and give you that wisdom that allows you to walk through life with your head up and heart open.  There is much to experience when you transition into opportunity, as long as you can see it.  I encourage you to be available and present when you are in this place and space, because when you are, you will more than likely be given opportunities that will change the quality of your life long term. The short term may seem like the most important at the time, my hope is it that you will be able to recognize and appreciate the difference, while you learn and grow in the process.
 
Until we meet again, be well to yourself as you move into the upcoming holiday.  May you be mindful of and thankful for all the wonderful gifts that life affords, the ones that don’t cost anything other than your time and availability…
 

Change Will Not Come…

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” ~Barack Obama

I have returned, and with that I hope these words find you well. Today, I am touched like many with the energy that comes with another opportunity. What exactly is that? Another four years to see where we can possibly go. I do not use this forum as a political platform, not my thing, and so I am mindful and aware of this, my intention here is to enlighten, empower, support, and help you help yourself. It just happens that my inspiration this week is reflective to what we all were exposed to this past week, “change.” No matter how you see it, what the past few have looked like, or what the future ahead will be, we are presented with another opportunity. This is an important part of the process of “change” as often we can over think what we don’t have, not what we do, and all that goes into being upset and disappointed because of… So, I present to you what most claim to know, but can’t always understand. The idea that we must recognize the progress that has been made, the steps taken to decrease and eliminate some barriers and obstacles, and the opportunity to move forward. Now, for some these are just words, with no plausible outcome that equates to success or benefit. Well, what I will say about that is that if you measure success or benefit as a positive gain based on a few parts of the sum, but not the whole, you would see exactly what you want to!

We live and breathe in a country that provides us with more opportunity to better our selves than most around the globe. There is no mystery as to “why” many choose to come here, start over, and work towards a better day. We also live within a culture (at times) that spends more time than needed focusing on what can not change, versus what we can. With that being said I am hopeful because I know what “change” represents, I understand what it takes to be part of the process, the solution, not the… Does this mean that there will be no challenge, disruption, setbacks, and all that comes with “change?” No, it does not. What it means is there is an opportunity to move forward (i.e. progress), as long as you can see it that way. Am I optimistic and hopeful? Yes, I am but I am also very in tune with what is real, predictable, and all that goes into being honest and open to “change.” Stay with me, the idea here is not that everything that is perceived as negative and impacting us in a detrimental manner will somehow disappear. No, the idea is that it will become more manageable, we will find ways for things to work with us (solution focused), not against us, and we will create the systems of support to help when needed. Whether you agree with this one (think candidate) or that one, the same outcome is spoken about when it comes to our future, “change.” How that will translate to what the outcome(s) will look like is going to be different, this we know, and often this is what really speaks to their (candidate) audience and the ideologies, norms, values, and all one may subscribe to, how will this change affect and effect my (individual & family) story.

The example I have shared, based on the recent transition for another four more, is just that. However, there are several opportunities within these words that can provide you with an opening when you are presented with “change.” Embrace what you can control, and what you can not, ask yourself “how can I learn from this experience in a manner that will add to my bucket, not?” It’s your choice as always, but being hopeful and resilient can and often do provide one with positive opportunities. If this sounds familiar, you just may have heard these words somewhere over the last several months, perhaps… You be well out there, keep your head up and heart open as you take care of you own needs, while impacting those in need. When you give you receive!

[This is a contribution by Daniel Jacob, Founder of Can You Hear Me? Can You Hear Me? is my latest project which is an opportunity to empower and support helping professionals. Currently, I provide instruction and support as an External Field Instructor for MSW students in the distance learning program at the USC School of Social Work.]

What’s The Expectation Here?

As I am often exposed, I find myself immersed into learning opportunities as long as I can see them.  This week has provided an opportunity and what is the expectation here?  It was one of those weeks that I just couldn’t seem to find the level of motivation, inspiration, or energy that is needed in order to give to myself, and definitely needed in order to see my opportunities to give to others.  It happens and without overthinking what I was feeling, I was still able to take care of my needs while not resisting what I was experiencing.

I accepted where I was at while embracing that this is just another lesson amongst many more to come.  I recognized that I must continue to practice what I speak to.  I trusted the process while embracing the necessary steps; want, belief, and commitment.  I approached these moments I was experiencing in a manner that allowed me to see an opening, versus a closing.  By doing this I was able to ask myself, what’s the expectation here? Yeah, so?  Well, often we don’t ask ourselves the needed questions that we may avoid or resist because it protects us.  It puts it (whatever that may be) away in that place that we may feel has our back, but quite honestly only makes us more vulnerable…

So, as I thought about what I wanted to share today, I was influenced by an experience that came my way earlier today.  I took part in a collaborative meeting with a student (I am overseeing) and a colleague of mine/field faculty member.  My role in this meeting was not only as a facilitator of learning, but an extension of support, guidance, and availability.  The meeting was a great opportunity to once again model a positive example that we can give as helping professionals. The opportunity to provide feedback, direction, and validation to this student was not only necessary, but a powerful tool that can instruct, empower, and move one forward.

What happens as a result can provide awareness, growth, and areas of development that can truly impact future opportunities for this student.  My participation in this meeting is something I value, respect, and am truly invested in.  When one teaches, two learn, and as I struggled earlier in the week with something that I would not let get the best of me, I gained some further perspective…

You see, often we walk into our daily activities and responsibilities with an expectation.  “If we don’t accomplish this then…”  If we don’t hear back from X then…”  “If I don’t get that job then…” and many, many more actions that can come into our space.  This can be a challenging process that often finds us punishing ourselves with what really we can not control.  Often we can be very hard on ourselves, judgmental in a manner that creates only more suffering.  So, I ask you, what is the expectation here?  What is it that you are striving to achieve? What’s going to validate it for you?

I want you to think about all of this as it pertains to your experience(s), and use my example as an opportunity to find that opening that works for you. When you are able to stop, reflect, and see where you are at, it is much easier to recognize what you can control, and what you can not…My participation in this meeting and what I was able to give and receive (in the process) allowed me to put my week into perspective.  It allowed me to see that I am doing exactly what I should be doing.

It allowed me to recognize and appreciate that the expectation that I created for myself, the one that had me questioning what I could not control is exactly just that, my own.  Another opportunity to add to my work in progress, while continuing to trust the process.  It’s all good when you are, and everything else will work itself out as it should.  If it doesn’t there is no need to worry or collapse, there is still an opportunity, as long as you can see it!  Be well to yourself as you move into your weekend.  If I have opened a door for you, then I have accomplished what I set out to do, the next step is all yours…

Top 5 Social Work Resources You Should Know About

If you like to stay in the know about all things social work, I have the several resources that will help keep you in the know. These five websites will serve as portals into a wealth of  global social work knowledge.  Most importantly, you don’t have to find all this information for yourself because they do it for you. Whether you need information on current events, practice or policy, you definitely need to maintain these sites in your bookmarks.

Here are the Top 5 social work resources that I recommend:

  1. Social Work.Career– This website is maintained by Blogger Dorlee Michaeli who is an MBA and MSW Clinical Social Worker. Dorlee’s motto is “I’m watching twitter, google+ and the web so you don’t have to…” , and she really does. Each week, there is a “Best in Mental Health Series” where she gathers blog post from various social work blogs on the net and compiles them for you. Dorleem Blog covers an array of topics including technology, career development, social work education and more.

  2. Social Work Blogs– Looking for a Social Work Blog or want to list your social work blog, then look no further. Social Work Blogs is your primary directory for social work blogs on the net. Don’t have time to read every social work blog, they give weekly recommendations on some good reads.

  3. Social Work News-Do you want to know about social work news around the globe or in your country? If so, Social Work News needs to be on your desktop. It keeps me informed daily about issues all over of the world. Without Social Work news, you would have to  search for social work specific news yourself.

  4. Community Care UK-Community Care UK is very informative especially if you are interested in learning more about practices in the United Kingdom to compare and contrast policy, practice, research, and initiatives by the British government.

  5. Trabajo Social- Trabajo Social is a blog out of Spain which provides a portal to other social work resources. They also have a library of podcasts in which I can’t use because it’s in Spanish. However, there is a list of blogs which are very informative with Google Translate.

Self-Care, What Exactly Is That?

by Daniel Jacob, MSW

It doesn’t take much effort to get to the information source these days.  It’s just a matter of logging on and booting up and you can find out anything about anything.  Does it mean it is the truth, fact, or the kind of information that you would welcome?  Not necessarily, but it does give some direction, perspective, and our own interpretation as we see it.  As I reflected on the idea of “Self-Care” and what exactly that means, there was a need to share.  There are plenty of experts out there as it pertains to self-care and well-being.  However, the one who truly needs to be the master of this practice is yourself!  You can read, study, and learn everything you need to about self-care, but if you are not able, willing, or ready to practice it, than guess what?  YOU WON’T!  So I ask you, what exactly is Self-Care?

I hope that I now have you thinking, in a manner that has you open and available to receive.  You see, I really have something to share on this particular subject matter.  Like many out there I thought that I had this self-care thing under control.  I mean, I was healthier than most, maintained an active lifestyle, had great support systems, and guess what?  I was far from healthy, and in fact what I should have been focusing on and attending to, I was not.  Therefore, it was only a matter of time when the vehicle known as “Me” was going to break down.  Often in life our greatest learning comes directly as a result of being confronted with challenge.  When challenge hits us we are presented with some choices.  We can either embrace it and take steps toward changing for the better, or we can resist, avoid, and keep on doing what will only lead to more challenges.  I’m the first choice kind of guy, and because I am, I have been afforded so many wonderful learning, growth, and self-awareness opportunities.  Because I have chosen to fight on when I am hit with suffering, I have allowed myself to move forward…

So, let me now move you forward and toward the meaning behind this post and subject matter.  Self-Care is a practice that is a part of your daily life activities.  What that means is that you do it not only because you know it will keep you well, but because if you don’t you will move farther away from the exact thing you are trying to reach.  You practice self-care because you can see the benefits of this in your actions, personal relationships, professional opportunities, physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and so much more that you can achieve and receive.  Self-Care is what you make it, and when you get to that place and space where it is a daily practice, then it is by far the most important job you have!  To be well you have to work at it every day for the rest of your days. If this sounds like too much effort or work for you and you’re just not feeling it, guess what?  You are right about one thing, it is the hardest work out there, and it takes a tremendous amount of effort, patience, and resilience to accomplish.  The experts can share the facts, data, and this or that model as it pertains to your wellness.  However, there is only one person who can change their quality of life for the better, and that person has to make a choice.  

Self-Care, What Exactly Is That? It is what you make it to be.  Life is not a dress rehearsal, you either give yourself the opportunity to change for the better, or not.  Until we meet again you be well to yourself, because when you are, that person you see in the mirror will be the same person you are looking at.  Can You Hear Me ?

Trust The Process….

by Daniel Jacob, MSW

I was able to disconnect recently from the energy of the city, and all that it can produce.  Being able to go into nature, a place and space that almost instantly allows one to breathe was received well.  As I thought about what I wanted to share this week, I closed my eyes and reflected.  What entered my mind and thoughts was not what I could see, but rather than the concept trust the process. What I have been able to see so well over this past year, something that has taken a great amount of work and effort to achieve!

This past year I have been able to see an opening that at times I wondered if it would ever appear.  You see, I began this journey back in February of 2009 with one primary goal, to be well.  It sounds so matter of fact when I see the word “well’ but as I have experienced, there is nothing so matter of fact about the inside of this ride that I know quite so…  A ride that has produced challenge, discomfort, frustration, opportunity, growth, understanding, and the ability to trust the process.  This last year has been an opening in many ways.  When you break open your mind and body go through a tremendous change, and when you patiently get back up, it really is a process of starting over.  You are recreating a new part of you (if you have chosen to) and what that means; the “work” has just begun!  There have been many stages and steps in the process when I questioned myself, my ability, and where this was taking me.  Until, it just happened.  I can’t tell you a day, a time, or a particular moment when I felt the change for the better.  What I can tell you is that if I stopped working, taking care of myself (physical and mental health needs) in a manner that was not disciplined, determined, and a part of my daily being I would not have gotten to the place that I find myself at today.

If I didn’t make some lifestyle changes that although began as a social outlet, then turning in to a coping mechanism, I would not be where I am today.  If I didn’t trust the professionals and let go of my pride, I would not be where I am today.  If I didn’t have an amazing and supportive spouse, I would not be where I am today.  If I didn’t do the work every day with the intention of strengthening my mind/body and ability to see what I could control, I would not be where I am today.  Yes, this has been a wonderful path that I have found myself on. I honestly have no idea where the future will take me and that in itself is exciting and empowering.  I know what I can control, and what I can not I have learned to accept.  What this has produced for me is an ever-present opportunity to move forward.  Today is a good day, one that I have created, one that I am living and learning from.  So, as I end this piece for today, let me leave all those that can hear me with this; believe in yourself and your ability to fight on, because when you do you will realize that you are a resilient being and “The impossible can always be broken down into possibilities” you just have to be willing to trust the process…

Until we meet again, you be well to yourself, give to another and you will receive!

Gay Rights… What Should be the Social Work Response?

by Deona Hooper, MSW

I want to share an article that was brought to my attention yesterday by a very close family member. This particular article was especially impactful for him because he recently shared with our family that he is gay. He is an awesome human being, well-educated, cares about his community, and he is doing everything a parent would want for their child. Why should him being gay matter? Well, for some in our family….it does! It was not accepted very well by his parents. Despite, everyone seeing gay mannerisms in him as far back as when he was three to four years old.

Although he may never be allowed to bring his partner to family events, I make sure that he knows they are always welcome at my home. I do not want him to be isolated from his support system or dread coming home, but I must admit that I have not always been this progressive. I grew up with conservative christian values in the South, and the South its difficult enough being a minority.

However, the pain that I have experienced and witnessed caused a change in my views. I had a best friend who was  a woman, a minority, and openly gay. For the majority of my adulthood, we worked at the same places. Most of my adult life, we were friends, but her being gay was the elephant in the room. I tried to be supportive, but she would always say,”You don’t understand”. She had a very limited support system, rejected by her church, and at times harassed at work. Yet, she always got through it.

In 2007 on December 27, she committed suicide with her police service weapon. She always struggled with depression, and I didn’t understand this internal conflict  for a lifestyle she lived openly. She was very apprehensive about seeking mental health services because her fitness for duty may have come into question. I didn’t know anything about LGBT support services or getting her connected with people who could identify with the pain she was feeling. I just wanted her to get over it, and I thought she did.

The last few months of her life were a complete lie, and she had convinced me and everyone around her that she was alright. She said that she was in a relationship and working extra shifts in which I didn’t question it. It wasn’t unusual for us not to hang out when she was with her girlfriend. Although I would meet whoever she was dating, I never broke bread with any of them.

Today, I truly regret it, and I can’t imagine how that must have made her feel. I miss my friend everyday, and I will never get the opportunity to have the conversations that I wish we should have had. She wasn’t in a relationship and she wasn’t working extra shifts. She left no note, and I have no idea about what was going on with her in the last moments of her life. Bringing awareness to this issue is the only way that I know how to honor her memory.

Social workers provide 69 percent of all mental health services in the United States. Are social workers contributing to the mental health crisis of the LGBT community’s increase in suicides by failing to proactively do outreach to this community? We must assess if our own prejudices are preventing the creation of early intervention services and proper assessment of issues when conducting home visits. I have noticed a shift in the social work profession that is moving closer towards conservative values. What impact will this have on treatment if the primary mental health service providers do not want to work with the LGBT community?

This is not a blog post that I had planned to write, but I think this is an important discussion needed within the social work community. You may disagree or agree with gay rights, but a plan must be devised to deal with the uptick in suicides within the LGBT community today. Where do you stand on the issue?

I have included an excerpt written by Perry Noble with a link to the full article as follows:

Let me begin by saying I absolutely LOVE Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. (Gonna go ahead and tell you that Oatmeal Cookie Chunk is THE BEST flavor I’ve EVER had!!)

A few years ago I went to Wal Mart (the closest thing to hell I can imagine…that and the DMV), found my favorite flavor and decided to tweet that I was purchasing some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream…and doing so “unleashed the hounds” in a sense. Honestly, I’ve never experienced anything like it, “Christians” began @ replying me on twitter condemning me and scolding me for buying this product because apparently Ben & Jerry’s supported gay rights/same sex marriage.

Honestly, it bothered me. Because, first of all…I wasn’t trying to make a political statement I was simply trying to get some chunky monkey and some oatmeal cookie crunch. I like ice cream…I believe it will be served in heaven (with ZERO calories)! And second, it has broken my heart the way that many who claim to follow Christ have treated those who are homosexuals. We’ve yelled at them, ignored them and in some cases damned them to hell without EVER sitting down and actually having a conversation with someone who is gay. Read More

Got Supervision? Social Work Supervision and Jazz

Certainly, social work supervision could be considered similar to the role of a jazz band conductor. Social work supervision is independent melody lines, improvisation, syncopated rhythms, and ensemble collaboration in concert…metaphorically speaking.

Caspi and Reid (2002) explain that those interested in social work supervision should make sound choices about the direction of their education. The jazz conductor also recognizes the importance of the ‘clarity of expectations’ from his players.

They may improvise, but it must be within the structure of the song. Caspi and Reid (2002) also emphasize the need for clarity of roles for everyone involved. This clarification reduces anxiety, builds negotiation into the relationship, and shows that issues are open for discussion. As in the jazz band, the player may say to the conductor, “What if we try the dissonant transition ‘this’ way? It is almost impossible for me to change my embouchure that quickly.” The comparisons to social work supervision are endless.

Social work supervision could be encompassed in many metaphors. How about a natural scientist? A scientist is interested in process, order, knowledge, education, learning, and truth. Nature embodies chaos, compassion, creativity, and change.

Herman Lotze (2010) describes that there is a unity in nature. Development, ‘spontaneous growth of order from un-order,’ and the ‘inherent purposiveness’ of ‘actions and reactions,’ are the end result. Holman (2010) presents the case for mankind, and the ability to ‘successfully face disruption and emerge stronger than ever.’ She explains how we become part of a gradual change which leads to the ‘transformation of culture itself.’

The social work supervisor wants to instill these philosophies and methods in their supervisees. In turn, the supervisees may want to empower their clients with these methods when possible. The social work supervisor wants to provide a framework for improvisation, growth, conversation, empathy, science, and a spirit of diversity with an ‘open- mind.’ In my experience in the ‘helping professions’ and in music, what may sound to one like tuning an instrument may sound like a melody to another.

Caspi, J.; Reid, W. (2002). Educational supervision in social work. Columbia Press.

Holman, P. (2010). Engaging emergence: Turning upheaval into opportunity. San Francisco, CA, US: Berrett-Koehler Publishers. xvii, pp. 239.

Lotze, H. (2010). Nature evolved from chaos. In: Microcosmus: An essay concerning man and his relation to the world. Vol 1(3rd ed.). Edinburgh, Great Britian: T & T Clark, 1888. Pp. 419-442.

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