Cathedral Building

Another Teaching Blog

Posts tagged social work

169 notes

A difficult thing, with helping professions…

Mental health, for example.  Your job at work is to help others with their challenges, to connect them to services, to support them in identifying and communicating and processing their feelings, but often it’s just to listen.  Teaching — you plan, you guide, you grade, you pay attention not only to how students are learning the material but to how they’re growing as human beings, which means, among other things, infinite attention — and listening.  Doctors and nurses examine and treat, but to do that they need to listen to their patients’ concerns, complaints, contexts.  Youth workers, social workers, geriatric workers, a whole host of nonprofit professions…all requires, sometimes in a very big way, listening.

And the listening can be draining.

So when it’s time to be a friend, outside of work, sometimes you just can’t be available in some ways.  And that’s alright.  You learn to tell people, I can’t have this conversation today, I’m sorry.  I can’t help right now, I’m sorry.  Give me an hour.  Give me a day.  Try later in the week.  Write it out for me and I’ll read it later.  It’s work, whether you want it to feel that way or not.

But what do you do when someone needs to express themselves, just to get it out, and they don’t see the harm in it?  That’s a need that shouldn’t cost you anything for them to fulfill.  They aren’t expecting anything in return.  But the sheer act of hearing some things expressed does just drain you even further - chips away at whatever you have left for yourself.

It’s an uncomfortable balancing act between self-care, this work, and being a friend. Sometimes you can’t do all three.  And sometimes, even when you say it outright, people still don’t understand.

So if you know someone who works in any field that requires them to give of themselves so fully — whether it’s mental health, education, other helping professions medical and otherwise, try to hear them out when they tell you they just can’t.  They aren’t saying they don’t care.  They aren’t saying they don’t want to be there for you.  But these jobs often leave a person with nothing left, and even just talking at them could put them right back at work again.  Sometimes they need that break.  So write it down for them to look at later, or find another source to tell, or hold onto it for when they can attend.  And they’ll be ready and willing to listen once they can recharge.

Filed under mental health social work education helpers helping professions help your helpers let them have boundaries know that they want to be there but sometimes cannot

18 notes

Anonymous asked: Why would you give kids shit for changing the name of a dog? Stupid and egotistical. Lol

Hi anon!

Each child I work with has specific therapeutic goals that we work on.  In the case of many children I work with by merit of the position and program, the children have difficulty accepting and allowing others to have opinions that differ from their own and refuse compromise.  This can lead to really difficult social interactions with peers, problematic situations with teachers and parents when needing to follow rules and routines (“I don’t think I need to do it,” moves to, “I’m not doing it,” moves to, “you’re stupid and don’t know anything,” moves to, sometimes, unsafe escalation in behaviors), and an inability to have positive relationships with other people due to total inflexibility.  Flexibility and compromise are important basic social skills.

In this case, not letting the child change the name of the stuffed dog just because they didn’t like the name I gave it was an important and really positive teachable moment re: these social skills.  I let them know that I’m sorry that they don’t like the name, but that that’s the dog’s name — but what if we came up with a nickname for the dog?  We were able to roleplay asking the dog if they could use the nickname.  When the dog wasn’t sure they liked the first nickname (testing frustration tolerance and response), the child was able to come up with another one without having an aggressive reaction, and it was great.

I never “give [my] kids shit.”  I help them work towards the goals they set for themselves and make sure I do so in ways that fit into their daily lives.  But thank you for your input!

Filed under education therapy social work asks slightly rude anon psychology Anonymous

2 notes

Made a new connection and found a new resource today.

Yesterday I was up at some ungodly hour crying because technical issues were making me want to quit.

But just making that new connection to a resource that could benefit a number of clients now and in the future has made me remember why I love this work.  And I guess that means I’m in the right place.

(It’s an odd phone call to see as so uplifting, but again.  Nerdy joy over my work.)

Filed under social work education youth resources

48 notes

Seasonal Activity: Feelings Egg Hunt


This one is going up a little late, but all it takes it a trip to the dollar store and about fifteen minutes to set up.  This activity is not age-limited — it can be adjusted by adding pictures or more complex feelings, or even by giving scenarios instead of feelings and having kids talk about them in reverse.  It’s not only good for socioemotional learning for therapists, counselors, or teachers, but could also be used as a creative writing activity (or art if you’re working on drawing expressions, body language, etc).

What You’ll Need

  • Plastic eggs, available at most stores for cheap (mine are from Dollar Tree, tiny plain ones in a 24-pack and the larger patterened ones in what I think was a 12-pack but a few were lost in my car)
  • Paper strips (above are cut-up index cards for durability)
  • List of feeling words (balanced between + and - is best)
  • Baskets or other containers for collection (optional)

Print and paste or handwrite feeling words (and faces, if necessary, or possible scenarios for higher-level activity) onto strips.  Fold up strips and place in eggs.

If weather permits, this is a great outdoors activity — unfortunately, today it’s raining and we’ll be doing it indoors instead.  Explain to your kids (students, clients, etc., and guardians if applicable) that you’re going on an egg hunt, and (if appropriate — i.e. if they’ll understand that it’s a game rather than reality) these eggs, just like them, have feelings that they’ll be able to relate to.

Depending on your kids, you may want to give a limit (everyone try to find five, etc.) to be sure it’s more or less even.

When everyone has collected their eggs, sit in a circle and have each participant open one egg and read what the egg is feeling.  Have the participant respond, “I’ve felt like that too!  I felt ___ when…” and give an example of a time when they felt the same way. (If doing the higher-level activity, have participants instead read the scenario their egg is in, state how they think they would feel if they were the egg, and brainstorm some ways to respond; this can also be a group activity.)  Continue until nobody has any eggs left.

Close out the activity by asking participants which egg was the most challenging, and which was their favorite. In a formal setting the latter could be done with a coloring activity and/or augmented by having participants create their own egg with a feeling and a scenario.

If you want to be really goofy about it, I would absolutely give every single egg a ridiculous egg-themed name, whether on the paper slip or in marker on the outside. If I didn’t have to reuse mine, the sharpie would be coming out to label Eggbert, Eggwina, Shelldon, Shelly, etc… On a serious note, adding a name adds an additional supportive, scripted conversation piece — “It’s okay, Fry, I feel that way sometimes, too.  Once time…” “That’s awesome, Scrambella!  I…”

Filed under education social work feelings feeling identification psychology counseling easter teaching therapy

5 notes

The Parent is Part of the…Equation.

Strengths-based.  Positive.  We try not to say “problem.”

But right no w part of the issue is a parent who is so passive they are actually veering more toward apathetic. It’s beyond not putting their foot down in terms of discipline — they don’t follow through with processes to get the household basic needs and assistance even when they have help for all but the last piece of the process, they have no desire to be involved with the school but at the same time will not say no to suggestions of going to parent-geared activities or connecting with seeing grades on the computer.  They just won’t say yes either.

Their entire demeanor could be reduced to a shrug, but they voice wanting to keep everyone together with strong feelings…sometimes. They say they feel they have no support system when other providers described to us how they have offered and given numerous supports in numerous circumstances.

Maybe part of this is learned helplessness.  Maybe part is depression, though we aren’t privy to the parent’s diagnoses — and maybe I should mention the possibility of need my team mate.  But what can we do to help this parent develop assertiveness when the parent is barely present while they’re there?

(If more information is needed, I can talk privately to give some more detail while still maintaining privacy of information.)

Anyone familiar with this challenge either in the school or therapy setting and have any suggestions?

Filed under social work therapy family therapy education assistance please advice needed assertiveness mental health family functioning family systems

14 notes

Give and Take

In the last few weeks I’ve been told by kids, parents, or other professionals that it is my fault that a crisis is happening (parent), that my presence is what’s making a kid act up (professional), that I should be shot in the face (child); have been called unnecessary, useless, f*ggot, p*ssy, b*tch, motherf*cker, and “that girl”; have been swung at by a few different sets of small fists; and have had communication continuously ignored by a handful of people with whom we’re supposed to be working in tandem.

I have also been complimented by my supervisor, an admissions counselor, coworkers,and parents; given stickers to appreciative colleagues for themselves, not kids, and seen them hang onto them for days; have seen people overjoyedly become a permanent family, adults hug their kids and kids hug their adults; become a human chair by sitting down on a preschool circle rug for more than a minute; and watched removed and unresponsive kids get so excited over playing jenga with people that they move into jokes, laughter, and silliness.

I am very, very tired.  But I love my job.

Filed under therapy social work education mental health

3 notes

I swear I’m not a big-hearted robot.

It occurs to me that I post personal life stuff specifically to another blog, but that many other folks in the #education and related communities multitask — so you end up hearing about babies, pets, spouses, cooking, utilities, transportation, adventuring, etc.

So, because I’m trying to stay awake long enough to get some progress notes done, the ask box is open to questions of the random sort for anyone who’s been following and wondering if I’m actually a human being and not a conglomeration of therapeutic androids (or who have been following long enough to know better and just feel like poking at me).

EDIT:  Looks like the way the schedule just stacked up that this will be the case for the rest of the week.  Ask away. I’ll have some piles to work with.

Filed under education social work personal life ask box is open counseling therapy