Academic journal article Social Work

Social Work: Help Starts Here

Academic journal article Social Work

Social Work: Help Starts Here

Article excerpt

Enrique's story is familiar. At age 6, his parents appeared not to be able to care for him and his siblings, and he was pulled from his family home. In his youth, he moved from foster home to foster home, spending his high school years in a group home where his social worker was Luke Shane. Enrique recounts the turbulence of those high school years, of the way he would storm out of the room whenever Mr. Shane tried to talk about his family or his feelings. But, Enrique always came back to the sessions and Mr. Shane was always there. Mr. Shane was there--there to communicate to Enrique that he mattered; there to say that he recognized that Enrique was a smart and caring young man. When Enrique graduated from high school, Mr. Shane encouraged him to apply to the local university. Enrique was admitted with a scholarship and completed his bachelor's degree in social work in record time. About the time he was looking his first job, Enrique reconnected with Mr. Shane, who suggested that he apply for a job in the public child welfare system. He even got him an interview with the director. After a few years working for the state Department of Children and Family Services, Enrique ran into Mr. Shane again--this time he was teaching in a graduate social work program. Mr. Shane encouraged Enrique to return to school for his MSW.

If Enrique's story began like many others, the ending is quite different. Today, Enrique is an MSW supervisor in child protective services in a major public child welfare system. He stays connected to his school and his professors, especially Mr. Shane. And, he is committed to a career in public child welfare, to extending to the children and families with whom he works the same help and encouragement that he received from Mr. Shane. For Enrique help started with his social worker, and today he works as a social worker to extend that help to others.

Social workers know that the connection between the worker and the client is the most powerful tool available to social workers--regardless of the treatment approach or modality they may be using. Relationship: The Heart of Helping People is a social work classic by Helen Perlman (1979) that outlines the characteristics and power of the social work relationship. …

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