I was able to relate to Stacy’s seminar. She spoke about a time when she felt as though she should have responded differently to another worker and to a youth. During her seminar we also talked about hoe even though she may have disagreed with how the other worker responded to the situation they have a different kind of working relationship with their clients. While being in a practicum it is easy for us, as students, to judge how other workers and our mentors handle situations. However, I believe until we have the experience those other workers have or the same kind of working relationship with the client it is hard for us to understand why they responded the way they did. Although, as practicum students it is our job to question the actions of those around us so we can better understand why things are done that way, we must do so respectfully. This can be hard when emotions are running high. It can be easy to feel lost in a practicum, to attempt to find where you stand. At times I felt as though my presence was an inconvenience (during our MCFD training 3 weeks into the practicum this seemed to be a common theme which was a little reassuring) and I had to remind myself that I was there to learn and in the end I would be helpful to the social workers (i.e. inputting contact notes, finishing assessments, returning phone call, etc.). In Stacy’s seminar we also talked about emotional intelligence and “gut feelings”, these are things I feel I am very good at judging. I know when something doesn’t feel right to me and I am usually able to address it before it becomes a problem. I have learned that my “gut feelings” are usually correct in my personal life and my professional life, if something feels wrong/off it usually is. While professionally this may not be enough to make a judgement call (i.e. removal of children) it can be enough to keep you involved in a case until you have proof of your “gut feeling” or have enough evidence to dismiss it. As practicum students we are able to learn from all of the workers around us, even though Stacy did not agree with how the worker handle the situation she was able to reflect on it to make herself a better worker. I found this to also be the case in my practicum, I had the opportunity to work with many of the social workers in my office at MCFD and to learn which styles I saw to be most effective. Some of the workers were very blunt, and while I found this at times to come across as disrespectful to the clients many clients appreciated the forwardness of the worker they knew exactly where they stood and what needed to be done. When working in child protection transparency is very important for the clients, they need to know what is expected of them and what the social worker is thinking. While I may choose to words things less harshly, for this worker her client knew she cared about them even if at times she was blunt. Other workers were not as direct and I found they tip-toed around sensitive topics, I felt that this many not be the best method either as it could be easy for the client to not understand what was being asked of them. Learning from the social workers their methods and reasons for doing things was by far the most beneficial part of my practicum.
Power of Language
This was my seminar, and I chose to focus on the training I had attend with Allan Wade. This was an amazing opportunity that I wish I could have shared with everyone. I found this training to have a drastic impact on me. I felt like it was an epiphany. I sat there thinking, “this is so obvious, how did I not realize any of it before?” Allan Wade spoke about the subtle changes in language which will help the reader/listener really understand what you are saying:
Example (see the prezi link for more examples):
Sexual Violence versus sexualized violence…it is not sex that is violent it is violence that is sexualized. My reaction: “Of course it is! Why did I not realize this sooner!”
Allan Wade spoke so passionately of resistance and about finding all the small ways victims resist violence. Not in the common understanding of resistance: physically fighting back. But in the small ways, such as walking faster to get away from an attacker. Or screaming in hopes someone will hear. Or a child taking hours to walk home to avoid the abuse they face there. Resistance which is only seen once it is put into context of the situation the victim faces.
One of the questions I asked at the end of my seminar was “Besides, MCFD, RCMP, and the justice system, what fields would this knowledge be useful in?” One of the last answers was “everyday life” and this was what I was thinking too. There isn’t a single area in social worker or otherwise where this knowledge is not useful. Being able to use language to empower people or to be able to describe the exact event is always useful. However, in the fields where this was a direct impact on the victimes (MCFD, RCMP, justice system) this needs to be held to a higher regard. We need to change the language we use. The paper I chose by Linda Cotes and Allan Wade states that the reports written by people in those fields and the words used can have a direct impact on the sentencing of the perpetrator. In many ways the language we commonly regard as “politically correct” or proper leads to victim blaming, and making the situation appear to have been mutual. The victim will commonly use mutaulizing language such as “he kissed me” we need to be able to step in and say “no, then he forced his mouth onto yours”. In no way during an attack is this the same action as a “kiss”.