Friday, July 27, 2012

O for Options

I got some exciting news yesterday. My field coordinator sent me an email with my options for senior field placement! As I briefly mentioned in my last post, my junior field placement is going to be hard to beat, because it was so incredibly awesome (more on that later, I promise). However, I have to admit that at least two of my options are quite intriguing.

My first option, Agency A, works with current and ex-offenders from the correctional system to secure employment and other resources. I would also be given the opportunity to do some group work with adolescent girls on probation. My field coordinator wrote: “The challenge for you in this placement maybe (sic) working with a significant African American male offender population given the events having transpired in your family with the loss of your sister.” Apparently my field coordinator took my junior placement supervisor very seriously when she said he’d better find me an appropriately challenging senior field placement or she’d snatch me back up, because it “would be a crime to ruin a fantastic social worker with such incredible innate abilities by sending her somewhere boring.”

After expressing his concern over the challenges this opportunity could offer, my field instructor wrote, “I want to find an internship that would challenge you as you are among my exceptional students and I do not want you to be bored.” Good. Very good. I don’t want to be bored. I don’t do well with bored. *PUTTING BRAGGART HAT ON* I always suspected I was an exceptional student, but I don’t know that I’d ever grow tired of actually hearing it! ;-) *TAKING BRAGGART HAT OFF*

I have some reservations, the least of which is working with “a significant African American male offender population.” Granted, that is a valid concern given that I did have some post-traumatic stress type reactions to African American males in the 16-25 age range within the year or so after my sister’s death. However, I believe I’ve worked past that. During my junior internship, I did a lot of home visits, some of which involved spending time in the homes of some men meeting this description. Though I was there primarily to focus on their children, I had no issues with being in the homes of these men or near them. I take that as a good sign.

My reservations are with the fact that this is a new agency that my field instructor just recently recruited, meaning he truly has no idea what a social work intern will do there beyond what he’s been told by the staff. I interviewed at an agency for junior field placement where what they’d told the instructor I would do was very far away from what they told me I would do, and what they told me I would do was very very far away from what actual interns placed there did. NO students EVER should’ve been placed there given what I reported back to my supervisor regarding my interview, but he didn’t believe me or didn’t want to listen. Thus, they ended up with three students very bitter that they didn’t get to do any social work at all in their junior social work internships. Needless to say, that left me with a lack of confidence in my field instructor.

That said, I will schedule the interview and will follow my gut. I’m excited to learn more about this opportunity.

The second agency, Agency B, I haven’t been able to find out much about. They’re a community mental health organization that offers recovery-oriented services to help individuals with serious mental illness live successfully in their communities. I am eager to go to this interview to get more details about the position and the agency. Mental health is the alley I want to go down, which is why I want to complete my master’s degree, so this could be a great opportunity.

The third agency, Agency C, conducts forensic interviews of children who have reported sexual abuse, witnessed violent crime, or who may have otherwise been victimized. My role as an intern would be providing crisis intervention, support, and other direct services to clients and their families. This opportunity sounds intense, but “crisis intervention” sets off red flags as that’s what I did in my previous internship. My goals for field placement are to be challenged and to learn something new, and crisis intervention isn’t new or challenging at this point. I won’t rule it out yet. I look forward to getting all the details at the interview and using that information to help with my final decision.

Of course, I don’t get to make the final decision. My field instructor does. He’ll listen to what I have to say when I give my thoughts on each interview, and he’ll use that to guide his decision, but he has the ultimate say. This is a very exciting and nerve wracking time! Internships need to be finalized and in place by the end of August so we can start the first week of September. I’ll fill you in on interviews and the decision making process as I go, lovely reader!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

H for Here I Am

Have you ever been so incredibly stressed and exhausted that you can’t even stand being around yourself? Yeah…that’s me right now. I know that must make it seem all the more odd than I’m suddenly resurrecting this blog that died a slow death towards the beginning of the year.

I’m back because I think this can be a good self-care outlet for me. It definitely has been before. And, since I’ll have to do a lot of journaling in the near future as part of my senior social work field placement, I should have a regular source of material soon. Actually, I have billions millions lots of ideas now for things I can write about that have already happened. In short, I have no shortage of material. What I do have is a shortage of time, but that’s nothing new.

I really wanted this blog to serve as a record of my time in social work school, and I ruined that by giving up so soon and putting it on the back burner. I have literally been in a sort of survival mode for at least the past six months though. Meaning every little thing in my life was prioritized and scheduled, and some things just didn’t make the cut. That's just how it had to be in order for me to survive social work school and life in general.

Going forward, I’m going to try to schedule at least weekly posts to summarize what has happened and what is yet to happen (as it happens). If I find myself with an abundance of rare free time, I’ll write a post or two and schedule them for the future. For now, a list of highlights and lowlights that have occurred over the past six months…some of which may or may not be expanded on in the future.

  • I ran a 10k (6.2 miles…AND I didn’t die)!!! I said back in March that I wanted to complete a 10k by the end of the year, and I ended up feeling ready (at least as ready as I could be) three days before my birthday in May. I wanted to finish in under an hour and a half, and I did (though just slightly). Of course, I didn’t run for almost two whole months after that due to time and other factors, but I recently found my way back to running and hope to maintain a running once a week schedule.
  • I’ve maintained my 4.0 GPA. With less than 5 months* left of social work school, I have managed to maintain my 4.0 GPA. (*Technically…at least at the bachelor’s level. I will be extending my senior field placement into February in order to earn more credits that I need to make graduation numbers and to take less time off of work per week. I also am a masochist have fallen in love with clinical social work, which requires an MSW, so I’m thinking about torturing myself retaining student status for at least another year to complete my masters degree. IF I can find the time to do the entrance essays!)
  • I not only survived, but also thrived in, my first social work field placement (internship). I will definitely talk more about this one in the future. I completed my last week working with emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children experiencing mental health crisis at the beginning of this month, and I’m still incredibly sad that it’s over. I did not for a million years think I’d enjoy working with children, especially this particular population. I walked away from the experience a new person. I absolutely fell in love with the clientele, crisis work, and have affirmed that social work is, indeed, the right line of work for me. I’m nervous and excited for senior field placement to begin in September.
  • I removed my toxic mother from my life. My mother has been toxic and emotionally abusive my whole life, and I finally got the strength and courage (and got sick enough of her crap) to remove her from my life. No longer do I have to put up with her incessant, unrealistic demands, accusations, and whining.
  • I’ve maintained my 4.0 GPA. Wait? WHAT?! Yeah…it’s definitely a highlight and an accomplishment, but it’s left me completely exhausted and super burnt out. Every semester, I’ve said I won’t work myself so hard and that I’ll adopt the “sometimes done is better than perfect” motto, and every semester I work my butt off and stress myself out to get As. I rationalize that this is necessary, because getting into grad school is competitive, so I need as high a GPA as possible. I could definitely afford to let up on myself a bit though. I’m trying. I really am. It’s a process.
  • I removed my toxic mother from my life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss the drama. However, there isn’t a complete lack of drama. Every once in a while, my mom rears her ugly head in attempt to bring me back into her life or to vent her anger at me, and this particular drama is far worse than any ever was before. She’s awful, vindictive, and spews some of the nastiest venom. I don’t have the energy or inclination to deal with it at this point, so sometimes it makes me completely lose my s---- and just breakdown, which isn’t cool. Also, I haven’t seen my nephew in months and my sister barely speaks to me anymore (she needs to keep things good with mom, who serves as her daycare, etc.). I’ve made my peace with all of that, but that’s not to say it doesn’t get difficult at times.
  • My sister is pregnant. With her abuser’s baby. (For backstory, you can search around the blog and find more info on my sister and her abuser.) Yeah…that’s pretty much ‘nough said, huh? They’re not back together. Yet. This will be their third child together, and they really can’t handle (mentally, emotionally, or financially) the two they already have. It was a “stupid moment of weakness” type thing. My sister isn’t proud of it. My mind is boggled as to why she chose to keep it, but that is her decision and hers alone.

So, that’s that, lovely reader. (If there are any left.) Though I haven’t been commenting, I’ve been reading the blogs of those I used to read and comment on regularly. With school winding down and me only having to take a couple classes a week instead of 4-6, I'm hoping to be around a whole lot more.

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