When asked the most helpful tip for becoming a social worker, Charlie Kramer couldn’t have said it better…”Just go for it!!!”
Charlie Kramer is a licensed clinical social worker who works at the Southern Tier Independence Center. Within just one hour, he provided an Intro to Social Work class some helpful advice for going into the social work field.
1. When working with different populations, it is important to be mindful of people’s abilities, needs, and goals. For example, Kramer has spent a nice amount of time working with people who suffer from spinal cord injuries. As one could imagine, it is so very difficult for them to perform the simple life tasks that we take for granted on a daily basis. Kramer gave the class a perfect example: even though a client may have a really hard time putting on their own socks, you have to just sit on your hands and allow them to do it themselves. It’s hard to watch them struggle and your instinct might be to go right ahead and help them. But if you do that, they won’t be able to practice and learn how to do it on their own for times when no one is around. When you discover something yourself, you learn it most deeply.
2. Therapy sessions can be uncomfortable and it is important to learn to sit there and be okay with the awkwardness. A client may come in and respond with one word answers…it feels like pulling teeth. But for all you know, just the fact that you are there willing to listen to them and meet them where they are can mean so much and help them tremendously, even if you can’t see it yourself.
3. People mention this time and time again…but that is because it is so important. You must remember to care for the person in the mirror. If you don’t, how could you possibly care for others? You are a vital person and if you’re giving more than you can without taking time for yourself, it is going to effect your work.
4. Kramer suggests that the key characteristic for a social worker is compassion. To be able to sit where the other person is sitting and be able to see yourself in that person’s shoes, that is so important. You must remain quiet enough to understand and actively listen to what the client is saying. Kramer says, “when you listen to someone, do NOT think. Just be open to it.” It is important to let whatever you are hearing fully sink in on every level.
5. When people are upset and angry, our instinct is to yell back or come back at them. Typically, that gets us no where. While it is difficult, we must learn to check in with ourselves, calm down, and just simply ask the person “are you okay” or “what’s going on.” You need to keep your voice down, maybe lower your tone a little, and try your best to get to the underlying problem.
Charlie Kramer, LCSW-R. Southern Tier Independence Center, April 14th, 2016.