I'm most familiar with clinical social workers, but there are so many more types of these roles supporting people who need some guidance. Hopefully, some readers will find value in this guest post.
Sometimes it seems that social work is a relatively unknown career path among the general public. Even college students pursuing social work ponder the question “What does a social worker do?” The mystery is unveiled through Social Work License Map’s new podcast series “We Help.” This podcast seeks to inform the public and defy any misconceptions about social workers by putting a spotlight on unique social work careers and the people they affect. We Help dives into two particularly interesting social work fields: refugee social work and sexual assault social work
In the first episode, “Mohammed,” a refugee from the Middle East, who wished to remain anonymous, shared his journey of coming to the United States and adapting to his new environment. As an educated activist, he felt hopeless in his new host country when social workers deemed his qualifications as irrelevant, saying “Whatever you were doing [in Iraq], it doesn’t mean much over here. ... There is a job at a warehouse if you want it. If not, I’m sorry but I can’t help you.” This negativity is uncommon because the skills he learned in Iraq can be used to help him find a job in the U.S.
Social workers may find it hard at first to support refugee clients who have been experienced so much trauma. Helping them adjust to a new country can seem like such a small matter.
However, Ena Ackerman-Offer, a refugee social worker who was also interviewed for the podcast, explained that refugees rely heavily on social workers for physical and emotional support. An unaccommodating social worker may result in serious repercussions for the clients, who can easily feel hopeless. Ackerman-Offer encourages anyone who is or wants to be a refugee social worker to make a clear and comprehensive list of what is required of refugees, such as a list of proper documentation. This saves time on part of both parties. She also highly recommends that social workers always keep in mind that many refugee clients are people with high education, skills and dreams. They deserve to be treated with respect and as fellow professionals. Ackerman-Offer did not always want to be a refugee social worker, but describes her work with refugees as one of the most rewarding experiences she has had. She says “refugees and asylum-seekers are by far the most grateful populations [she’s] worked with.”
In the second episode, Annie, a victim of childhood sexual assault, tells her story. Annie’s story emphasizes the importance for survivors to “reclaim” their narrative in order to absolve a guilt that often burdens them and dispel the stigma of victimization. Social worker Josie Torielli, from the New York Alliance Against Sexual Assault, brings thoughtful discussion about Annie’s journey and the role social workers play in the path of recovery. Social workers in this field provide a valuable service as they help survivors of sexual assault heal, become empowered and continue to move forward in their lives.
For sexual assault survivors, social workers can be a beacon of hope in the dark night because of the communication, support, understanding and nurture that cannot be found elsewhere. It’s another field of social work that brings invaluable reward to both parties.
Refugee and sexual assault social work are just two extremely rewarding fields that should have more exposure among social workers. The stories in the fields, as told by “We Help,” help provide insightful information to the public and inspire young minds.
Listen to the podcast now.
About Social Work License Map
Social Work License Map is a guide to social work licensure that clarifies the steps needed to become a social worker in your state. “We Help” is a monthly podcast brought to you by Social Work License Map that focuses on the daily lives of social workers everywhere by sharing social workers’ personal experiences and the stories of those they’ve helped.