CC Issue 49 / Reflections / Social Work

Fishing Lessons

I have new business cards. They list my job titles as “Program Facilitator” and “Support Worker”. I work mostly with at-risk youth.

I do my best to help clients with the resources that I have access to, and do what I can for clients going through hard times. I work in a system, and can refer the client to numerous positive supports, but I can’t make them do anything that they are unwilling to do.

In the short time I’ve been involved in social work, I’ve seen a fine line between enabling, and providing opportunity. At what point do you stop giving your client a fish, and begin to start teaching them to fish?

At the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is “self-actualization”. There are four levels below that a person must move through in order to get to the place where they can realize their full potential.

My role is to jump into the hierarchy and support my clients through the oftentimes opaque and difficult journey from wherever they might be until they no longer need my assistance.

But I have to be careful, because if I only give the clients what they need at that time, they will never learn how to function without my influence. I need to set them up for long-term success by helping them to realize that they journey through the hierarchy is, as complex as it may be, theirs to complete.


One thought on “Fishing Lessons

  1. Very thought provoking. I wrestle with this stuff a lot – especially since I’m always fighting against taking the lazy way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s