While most of the United States only knows March for things like March Madness, day light savings changes, or Apple’s announcement of the Apple Watch, this month actually is Social Work Month. To me, Social Work is more than a profession, but ethical principals one lives by. We value a code that all cultures, beliefs, and religions can agree upon. Below I list out the National Association of Social Worker’s Ethical Principals and my definition of each:
- Service – While the Army calls this selfless service, our fundamental aims is to enhance ones life through our actions, interventions, and programs. Additionally, this should be accomplish freely and not for compensation, personal gain, or monetary benefit.
- Social Justice – We seek those social constructs, regulatory barriers, and disparities that prevents one from achieving their goals. This ranges from educating the ignorant to advocating for legislative change.
- Dignity and Worth of the Person – Hope and change comes from within each of us. So just as our perceptions differ, so does that which motivates and drive us. Therefore, we do not provide help, but rather assist one achieve their goals based on their views of success.
- Importance of Human Relationships – We are social creatures, with many different social identities. When put altogether, its from our social relationships that we find what makes us unique, assistance to overcome an issue, hope for the future, and most importantly belonging.
- Integrity – If you cannot trust the person next to you, what hope is there. To question my integrity is to discredit every part of me in one quick stroke.
- Competence – I only practice within those realms I possess the personal, educational, and professional knowledge to be successful. I am able to admit if I do not know something, but I will seek information and experiences to fill this void. In the end, I only know what I know, but do not know what I do not know.
Social Work’s value to me goes beyond these principals, since becoming a Social Worker changed my life. After sustaining my injury, I fought against everyone around me and myself, because I lost my purpose. When the Army allowed me to pursue a Masters in Social Work at the University of Kansas, I learned that my inner being never healed from my wounds. Being able to learn from and share with the faculty, staff, and fellow students provided the precise experiential learning necessary to heal invisible wounds of the heart, mind, and spirit.
A stellar Social Work education yields not clinical social workers, rather it transforms one into a Social Worker equipped with a strength-based generalist perspective. Through this process, we conduct regular introspective investigations of ourselves to learn our own strengths, weaknesses, biases, preferences, and limitations.
My turning point occurred while learning about spiritually competent social work practice. I was pushing others away and harming myself because of me. I thought I was a normal Army Officer, when in reality that identity disappeared several years earlier. In actuality, I was a person afraid of their disability, based on a belief within the Army culture that an impaired person is broken.
From this point forward I turned my attention towards accepting myself as a blind bloke, forgiving myself, and moving forwards.
Thank you Social Workers and Social Work Educators for creating and maintaining a profession based on serving others reach their fullest potential through internal means, social networks, cultural changes, and political action.