Reflections of the Past and Moving Towards the Future: One first year MSW student explains her journey

In the fall of 2016, I gave this first-year student an assignment which was posted in the blog titled  A look inside a first year student.  It was through this assignment that she began to explore exactly where she felt the core traits of a social worker are held within the physical body.  I gave her this same assignment in May 2017 when she was finishing up her first-year internship. Not only did I ask her to color in this picture once again, but I also requested that she explain why she colored the areas of the body the colors she chose in order to give more insight on how she has grown as a student and a professional.  Here is what the student stated about her experience:

“In my first picture, I colored the core of the body pink because I felt Empathy is the core of our essence as social workers.  Although I still believe that, I also colored part of the head pink because I think we must also be conscious of our empathic ability as we bare witness to others suffering and be conscious of when we are being over-empathetic which can have its disadvantages.  I also included blue (patient), yellow (perceptive), green (dependable), and purple (objective) in this area because I feel those are things we need to possess in starting any journey with a client.  Some clients may need more support than others so we need to be patient and dependable.

Our clients will be coming from different walks of life and will have different values and opinions on a variety of subjects, so we need to beware of our own biases and be as objective as possible.  We also need to be perceptive to see and hear what the client is really trying to express or what they are not expressing in relation to their story.  In the body portion, aside from pink for empathy I also colored in green again because I believe that is an important quality but I also colored in brown for drive.

In order to keep doing our jobs efficiently, we need to continue to foster the drive that brought us to this field in the first place.  I also used brown (drive) to color in the feet because it is our drive that carries us through this journey.  Persistence is key so I used that to fill a part of the core of the body as well.  Resiliency plays a big role in this ever changing field and in our clients lives so I dedicated a large portion of the body to this trait as well.  This year has opened my eyes to the vast opportunities and roles of the social work field.  My first-year experience changed my idea of what I thought social work entailed but it also made me question my original idea of what I felt I wanted to do in my career.  It truly has been an eye opening and rewarding journey.”

May 2017
September 2016

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