Share, the antidote to Shame

Share, the antidote to Shame

What I love about my job is the amount of training I can go on. Training lets me learn new things, develop new tools, listen to experiences, and of course, network with other professionals.

Since I have the attention span of a carrot, it’s rare to find a speaker who can grasp my attention for a full ten minutes – and I’m so glad this guy did.

“What letter do I need to change in the word ‘Shame’, which would make shame go away?”

Our speaker asked…

People started scratching their heads, throwing out answers (which did not involve actually changing a letter, but I guess it was quite late on a Tuesday afternoon … and after so many workshops, we were all too tired).

“Change the ‘m'”, I mumbled to myself, “change ‘m’ to ‘r’ and you get ‘share'”. Again, it was too late on a Tuesday afternoon for me to feel like engaging.

Finally, ,someone said it, they replied that the way to deal with shame is to speak about it. Our speaker was elated, replying that yes, sharing is how we can help clients deal with their issues of shame.

But isnt’t that counterproductive? If I have shame to speak about something, how can I possibly share it?

 

Well, that’s the trick in reality. We give power to certain things… and they really don’t deserve to have this power. Let me explain.

If I shame regarding an aspect of myself – such as my gender or sexual orientation (ie. something I have no control over, and cannot change). If I don’t talk about it, my shame gets worse. I will feel that if people knew, they would judge me (after all, isn’t this the reason for shame? feeling judged and unwanted for something?).

And what happens when we hide such fundamental parts of our personality, for fear of judgement? We end up hiding other things – things we like or enjoy, because we feel that our loved ones will ‘figure it out’.

But what happens when I do talk about it? When I feel so safe with someone, so close and intimate with them, that I can tell them about my genuine self?

Well, when the person acts so loving about what I have shared, so non-judgementally, then that is when my shame will go away. I will realise that I was being ignorant for assuming that my loved ones would hate me, and that it was something to be ashamed about.

 

So what is the antidote to shame? SHARE!

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Honestly, being a social worker makes me feel privileged – because people are entrusting me with some of the deepest, most personal, darkest moments of their lives. I get to hold these moments with them, to reflect, to realise how it shaped them into the people they are today…both the good and the bad.

So when I saw this picture, I knew that I had to share it. It is so true. We all (or most at least) have a somewhat difficult past. It’s something we grow and learn from…but honestly, some people needed to have someone to help them, but didn’t.

 

be the person.jpg

So as social workers (and anyone who works with people on such a personal level), it’s important for us to realise our role in helping clients process their past, and get through it. And for professionals working with children, the role becomes even more important.

So as social workers (and anyone who works with people on such a personal level), it’s important for us to realise our role in helping clients process their past, and get through it. And for professionals working with children, the role becomes even more important. Because they are the ones who help shape the child’s character.

 

So kudos to you! And keep on fighting the good fight!

Back to the Grind

Back to the Grind

The majority of my classmates started working in their respective agencies a while ago – but right as soon as we got the call to start work, I was on a plane, jet setting to a foreign land for 2 weeks.

 

Ok it wasn’t as exotic as that. But 2 weeks in Ireland, travelling by bus across cities is quite an adventure, I’ll let you know!

 

And that holiday was utterly amazing. I saw so many beautiful places, and made friends with so many animals (have any of you held a red fox, have you?!). But following this holiday I was more than ready to start at my new full-time job, doing the work I was trained to do for four years.

 

So how are things going so far? Pretty awesome. I have a bunch of interesting cases, all with their own very diverse and specific needs. And I couldn’t be happier. Of course, the waking up at ungodly hours is not a favourite of mine, but hey, at least I’m getting paid.

The Social Work Profession Act

The Social Work Profession Act

At some point in the past few months, the Government of Malta decided to amend the Social Work Profession Act. It was slightly outdated so hoorah! Unfortunately, the process itself wasn’t that…well…great.

As with any decision to change a law, people are going to complain. It’s difficult to appease everyone. But what we saw in the past few days was an uprising by local NGOs and professionals. Why? Because the proposed changes were bordering on the ridiculous.

First off, the definition of who a social worker is was going to be changed. Unfortunately, the proposed amendment was not the international definition – instead it was some made up definition which was not even discussed with the Maltese Association of Social Workers. You know, the actual organization which knows what the role is about. The good news is that the Government has agreed to change the definition. Though one has to wonder why it wasn’t done properly in the first place, especially when considering that other professionals do have their international definition in their legislation.

The second very big change was that all newly graduated social workers would have to work for two years with a state agency before they could apply for their warrant. This would ruin NGOs in the long run because they would end up with a shortage of social workers. And let’s face it, after two years within an agency, where you would have got used to the system, you’re not likely to leave that agency unless you’re going to continue studying for a Masters. Definitely not to go work at an NGO – which incidentally, would give you a lower wage, and less concrete hours.

Two points I’d like to make here:

  1. By working within an NGO, social workers are still serving the state. NGOs do the work that the government cannot afford to. Imagine if all the abuse rehab centres had to be taken care of by the government? And all children’s homes? And let’s not mention the fact that the state doesn’t actually have an agency which deals with LGBTI+ issues.
  2. When taking into consideration the lower wage, and less concrete hours when one works within an NGO – it begs the question why graduates are still preferring to work in NGOs instead of the state. Maybe the state should be reflecting on this aspect first before trying to force new social workers to work for them.

Thankfully, the Minister has said (after many complaints) that this clause will be stricken from the amendments – once again this should have been discussed first and foremost with the department of social wellbeing at the University, with the students themselves and with the association of social workers.

On a brighter note, some of the proposed amendments are needed, so I’m glad that the Act is being updated. I just wish the process had been more transparent and inclusive…before the Bill passed through its second reading.