You’ve studied hard, completed your fieldwork, graduated with a degree in social worker. You are ready to be a successful new social worker! I’ve been practicing social work for over twenty years, so I thought I’d share a few tips on what it takes to be a successful social worker or therapists. I’ve had the pleasure to work as a mental health therapist, wraparound facilitator, program manager, clinical social worker, and therapist in private practice.
There are a variety of things that contribute to being a successful new social worker or therapist. There is a nice article here on traits that are important for social workers and therapists. In addition, I have 6 tips to set you on a path to success.
Tips for becoming a Successful Social Worker or Therapist
- Be yourself – No matter where you are working, you were hired for your unique skills, experiences, and strengths. There are many qualified therapists and social workers in your community, but your employer or your clients chose you in particular.
- Be confident – Are you afraid of making a mistake? Do you feel unsure of your skills? Have you ever had a client ask you if you’re nervous? Well, I did and I was mortified. I work with a lot of interns early in their careers who feel insecure. You don’t have to know everything to be a good social worker. Chances are that you know more than you realize. Lift your head high and act with confidence.
- Be present – Being present in this moment is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your clients. Try to do one thing at a time. Clear your mind and truly sit with your clients.
- Take advantage of learning opportunities – If you have access to clinical supervision, conferences, case consultation groups, or trainings through your employer – GO! Take advantage of everything you can. These are valuable opportunities. And if you are self-employed or don’t have an employer who is supportive of these opportunities, I still suggest using your own time or funds to attend.
- Set clear boundaries – Setting clear boundaries with your clients and your employer is essential to avoid burnout. From the beginning, be clear on what days/hours you will work, who is covering for you after-hours or when you are on vacation. Keep space between your personal life and work life.
- Get support – Clinical work is emotionally stressful. Be sure to connect with supportive colleagues or a professional therapist to support you with the emotions that will come up doing clinical work.
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you are looking for more assistance on how to be a successful social worker or therapist, give me a call. I’d be happy to assist you.