As social workers, we learn about the importance of advocacy and empowerment. We are called to work with and serve those most marginalized and oppressed in our communities, but often forget that as students and professionals, we must also advocate for our own needs and learning opportunities. We each come into the profession with a unique set of goals about how we hope to learn and impact change, and often, in order to achieve those goals, we must be able to advocate for ourselves to create a constructive and challenging learning environment. Here are some advocacy tips:
Critically assess your own needs and have a firm grasp over your personal and professional expectations.
Work on creating open and transparent relationships with professors and field instructors/supervisors in order to allow for respectful and valuable dialogue.
Develop relationships with peers and colleagues to not only challenge and learn from one another, but also create a healthy learning environment in the classroom.
Maintain confidence in your own capacity and push and challenge yourself to build the networks needed to reach your academic and professional goals.
It’s track selection time here at GSSW. You choose a track before you begin coursework if you are an Advanced Standing student, and before 2nd year if you are a two year student. “Track” refers to whether you will study Community or Clinical practice and specializations within the clinical track.
I’ve chosen to go down the Clinical Families track, intend to get a Trauma Certificate, participate in the Denver Family Institutes certificate program (if I am admitted) and dabble a bit in Adult and Late Life courses. If I am admitted to DFI I hope to also work towards my LCSW and LMFT post-graduate.
Choosing a track can be challenging but the beautiful thing about Social Work is that choosing a track does NOT limited your career opportunities in the future and many people cross back and forth between clinical and community work throughout their careers.
Yes, that’s what I did! Though we have structured coursework, there is often room for a more creative and personalized spin to projects and writing assignments. For our foundation year clinical practice class, we were asked to select an autobiography or memoir to read and analyze from a developmental approach. I chose to read Persepolis, a graphic autobiography that tells the childhood story of Marjane Satrapi during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. With a professional interest in international social work and the role that art plays in trauma, Satrapi’s Persepolis offered a unique and challenging way to gain insight about the intersection of sociocultural and political factors and childhood development. The graphics provided an extra layer of depth that kept me both engaged and challenged throughout and allowed me to integrate my personal interests in a professional way.
Although I chose not to participate in the SW Latino/as Certificate that is offered here at GSSW, I ended up registering for a class that was offered as part of the certificate during the spring quarter of my foundation year. The class I took was called SW Interventions with Latinos/as. I found this class to be extremely helpful and relative to the work I was doing at my internship, along with my future professional goals.
Here is the brief course description that is available on our website as well: addresses immigration issues, as well as intervention and theoretical approaches for Latinos/as. Covers the selection of interventions and strategies for cross-cultural use in adequately addressing the needs of Latinos/as. A required course for the Social Work with Latinos/as Certificate. This course is conducted in Spanish.
What I found most useful about this class was that it was taught in Spanish. Even though I didn’t participate in the certificate program, I was still able to find a way to incorporate the Spanish language in to my classroom experience (since I was utilizing it a lot in my field practicum).
The following track / certificate / program information sessions are intended for students as they plan their concentration for the academic year 2011-2012. Requirements and specific offerings change from year to year, so always check your student handbook for accurate information. Look for sessions on High-Risk Youth Track, Denver Family Institute cooperative program, Social Work with Latinos/as Certificate, Animal Assisted Social Work Certificate, and Interpersonal Trauma Studies Certificate to be recorded and posted over the next two weeks.
Continue reading “Track / Certificate / Program Information Sessions 2011 part 1 (VIDEO)”
As a first-year student at GSSW, I am enrolled in a foundation seminar course that is intended to bridge our field experience with classroom learning. This week, we had a guest presenter speak to us about crisis intervention and his experience with different types of intervention strategies. He spoke about threat assessments, suicide assessments, and abuse (domestic violence, child abuse/neglect, elder abuse, etc.). He not only provided us with a packet of information and resources regarding these topics, but he also shared first hand experiences dealing with crisis situations. As somebody who works with high-risk youth, this lecture was very pertinent to my field work and my future plans as a social worker. I definitely think I am now better prepared to deal with crises in the field (or at least know where to go when I have questions)!
As a first year student, I’ve decided to take a second year elective in addition to my first year coursework. I selected the Mind Body Connections in Social Work Practice. I’ll be honest, I selected it in part because it didn’t appear to be THAT much extra work. Well, I was wrong! It is work in a whole different way than other classes.
One of the quarter long assignments is to begin a new practice. For example, I’ve chosen to meditate 3-5 times per week. It sounds easy but in reality has been the hardest assignment I’ve had at GSSW. Not only does it require that I prioritize time in silence for my own benefit but it requires me to turn off the intellectual side of my brain and listen to my body. In that same theme, it’s also been the best assignment I’ve ever had since being at GSSW. I’m a proponent of self care but never thought it would be this hard. Sure, it’s challenging to exercise or take a night off to enjoy a concert or movie but I find it harder to find 20 minutes every day to turn off my thinking brain and focus on nothing but my breath.
I’m not perfect at it and I’m quick to convince myself that I’ll do it tomorrow but I know it’s been one of the most useful things I’m challenging myself to do every day.