"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Beware MSW Interns!

So when you decide to get a master's in social work, there are so many things that you are not prepared for whatsoever. No one tells you that student loans are unmanageable or that you will be spending 80 percent of your time chained to a car or a desk far far away from the kids who you want to help. But the thing that took me the most off guard, was how much politics rule this world. When you decide to go into social work, you assume that everyone in it is just like you. You assume that everyone in social services has a good heart, wants what is best for the clients, and is considerate of others. What other kind of people would choose to be in this profession?

WRONG. After some years of working in and with social service agencies, it has become clear that I was very incorrect in all of my assumptions. In my experience some of the people at the top of the hierarchy at some of these social service agencies are extremely difficult to work with. Micromanaging, inappropriate pressuring of employees, poor social skills, and complete mismanagement are rampant. Therapists often describe feeling like worker bees in a factory. The management can often create excess work, stress, and pressure for the therapists who have little time to spare. Therapists in these agencies are not given the tools to thrive and provide the best services to clients. Therapists, like county social workers, are forced to make daily choices that challenge their ethics due to constraints imposed by the powers that be. No one tells you that part of the job will be a balancing act between standing up for what your limits are, what clients need, and stroking egos of the administration. No one mentions or expects that you will have to put up with inappropriate passive aggressive comments from those above you. No one warns you that you may be asked to compromise your values and ethics for your higher ups who make three times as much money as you do, while you are barely breaking even every month.

Thankfully, the other therapists and some of the clinical supervisors are the special kind of people that I did expect in this field. They are supportive, kind, and thoughtful in the workplace. My best advice is to use their support as much as possible because without it, you will end up the client not the therapist. And pick your battles... never compromise your values and ethics for your boss, its your conscience not theirs.


  1. Awesome post. And so freakin' true. Many of the problems I come across each day are related to absolutely everything you describe.

  2. You are so right on with your post. I have been in social services for 20+ years and you have described my experience so well. I wasn't aware that this was true for others....I always think it's just me and what I have created. It is very helpful to read something like this and feel like it's maybe not me but the agency and just the way it is in this field!