Masters of the Overview
It’s not difficult to see why so many social workers privately struggle with their professional identity, despite social work qualification having returned to being a degree based profession (before the DipSW the vast majority of social work training was undertaken on a post-graduate basis).
Professional registration, first with the GSCC and now with the HCPC, goes a long way to improving social workers’ professional identity, but there are still negative views that inevitably impact on that identity.
It’s not just the generally bad press from the media; a large proportion of the general public don’t have a high opinion of social workers; we can easily be led to believe that everyone sees us as either interfering or not doing enough, with no middle ground in which to get it right.
But greater damage comes from other professionals. Teachers, health visitors, doctors, police, psychologists – just some of the professionals with whom we interact daily in the support of families and individuals at risk or in need – are specialists in their field. But worst of all are those in the legal profession: courts taking our reports and then decide they want an expert opinion.
We’re not seen as experts in various aspects of mental health and psychology, or of counselling or educational needs, or medical diagnosis of behavioural issues. And we can be easily discouraged because of it. It doesn’t seem to matter that our training and our practice have given us experience and knowledge in all these areas and more.
I’ve heard it said, “Jack of all trades, master of none”. I’ve said it myself. But one solicitor working for the local authority came up with the best view, and it is so accurate it bears repeating – we are not blinded by our subject limitations – we bring all these disciplines together – we are masters – we are masters of the overview.