Master of Social Work Essay
Pursuing a Master of Social Work is important to me because it will expand my career opportunities and open more possibility for employment. Having a master’s degree in social work will allow me to hold a position related to health care, specifically mental health. I intend to use my master’s degree to obtain my counseling licensure. My career goal includes specializing in child and adolescent counseling. Although my passion is to work with children and young adults I am open to the many new experiences and opportunities the social work field holds.
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A significant factor that influenced my decision to pursue a master’s in social work degree is my time volunteering with Alive Hospice in Murfreesboro and Nashville. I volunteered with Alive Hospice’s summer camp for children who are grieving. While volunteering I lead many group activities geared toward helping the children learn how to cope with the loss of their loved one. My time at the summer camps further confirmed my passion for the field of Social Work. During my time there I was able to work side-by-side with licensed social workers and I believe that impacted my decision to pursue a Master of Social Work tremendously.
While studying as a psychology undergraduate, I was awarded a placement on the Dean’s list for several semesters. I believe my academic history will contribute to my success as a graduate student and in the social work profession. Throughout most of my time as an undergraduate I studied full-time as well as worked two jobs. During this time I discovered my intense drive and work ethic. I believe having these qualities will contribute to my success in the Masters of Social Work program.
A major social problem that is of great concern to me is climate change. Our planet’s increasingly destructive climate is prompting social work leaders to focus on environmental change. Examples of climate change effects include the regular typhoons hitting the South Pacific with greater severity and frequent hurricanes. The University of Southern California reported in an article that civil conflicts and instability in the Middle East and Africa are being linked to climate change and its socioeconomical effects (Lindberg, 2017). Already large numbers of people are migrating around the world because of food and water scarcity and extreme weather. Generally, the people most affected by climate change tend to be poor, older adults, children and families, and people with history of mental health problems, populations that are typically the focus of social work practice.
Social workers play a role in alleviating the problem by developing an approach to disaster preparedness and response. Social workers are in the position to provide services to communities that are devastated by natural disasters and to help populations that are being dislocated by changes in the environment. I believe that all clinicians and social work students should receive training in disaster preparedness and response as a critical component of the job. Social workers can assist during recovery efforts by offering interventions and training others to use them. Social workers can bring their knowledge and skills and develop additional ways of supporting people, especially children and families, in the wake of these natural disasters. They may not reduce the number of natural disasters, but they may reduce the number of displaced families, and the incidence of psychiatric conditions like PTSD or generalized anxiety disorder that are often associated with exposure to these kinds of events (Cumby, 2016). Responding to environmental change from a social perspective is crucial because social workers always work as a team and in these situations, we need to build teams to enhance the national capacity to respond.
There are certain barriers that exist that limit social work action on environmental change. For example, there is lack of training about environmental issues like climate change. In standard social work, ecosystems are just seen as individuals connected with family, connected with community, connected with institutions, but the fact that all of that occurs in ecological climate systems is blank. The social work profession’s cultural mindset is a barrier to them acting on climate change. The profession is mainly described as being focused heavily on the individual operating within the social environment and separate from the physical environment. Instead of thinking of the person-in-environment as person in the social environment it is important to think of it as the person in the environment generally, all different types of environments.
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The lack of professional opportunities is a challenge social workers encounter when acting on environment change. Social workers would need to leverage their training in unique ways to do environmental work. There is also a lack of apparent need to incorporate environmental perspectives into their day-to-day work. Clients come in with immediate, presenting issues that need to be dealt with. It would be difficult to convince clients that it is important when they are experiencing day-to-day struggles. However, this could circle back to social workers not having the appropriate tools, language, and models to do this work due to other barriers surrounding training.
Climate change has significant impacts on populations that are the focus for social practice. Social workers have the skills necessary to help deal with environmental issues like climate change. If they put their person-in-environment perspective, social justice perspective, crisis counseling skills, community organizing skills, and their orientation toward policy to use we could be steps closer to alleviating the social problems related to climate change.
- Lindberg, E. (2017, January 31). Understanding Climate Change as a Social Issue: How Research Can Help. Retrieved January 27, 2019, from https://dworakpeck.usc.edu/news/understanding-climate-change-social-issue-how-research-can-help
- Cumby, Tina, “Climate change and social work: Our roles and barriers to action” (2016). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1828. http://scholars.wlu.ca/etd/1828
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