The FAMCare Blog

Looking for Inspiration

Posted by GVT Admin on Jun 7, 2023 10:30:00 AM

Social Workers looking for inspirationSince the worldwide onset of COVID-19, social workers are burning out and leaving the profession at an alarming rate. The shocking trauma of 1 million American deaths in under three years and the mantle of grief this slaughter draped over the everyday life of surviving family members was followed by a lingering threat of severe illness, economic uncertainty, and chronic under staffing in social services. Unsettling conditions are the exhaust fumes left behind by the pandemic as it fades off into the distance, and case workers are left to calm everyone’s nerves and guide them back to a semblance of normal life. Dedicated case managers continue to show up for work, day after daunting day, but are beginning to feel - “the faster they go, the behinder they get.”


It is time to remember why you became a social worker. “I’ve been on the job for almost 21 years and have forgotten my youthful idealism a thousand times,” a social worker told us when we asked if she remembered why she became a social worker in the first place. “But when I get tired and frustrated with administration or with my clients who often seem too needy for me to help, I remind myself to take a breath and tap into how I felt about helping these struggling people when I came out of college.

“Today, Americans enjoy many privileges because early social workers saw miseries and injustices and took action, inspiring others along the way. I keep an old black and white picture of my college hero social work pioneer, Jane Addams, who was the first women to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 1931. Known best for establishing settlement houses in Chicago for immigrants in the early 1900s, she was also an important leader in the history of women's suffrage in the United States. In 1910, Addams was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from Yale University, becoming the first woman to receive an honorary degree from the school. In 1920, she was a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Her picture reminds me that the work I do every day is motivated by the same desire to balance the social scales and give the humble a hand up. Many of the benefits we take for granted came about because social workers—working with families and institutions—spoke out against abuse and neglect.

  • The civil rights of all people regardless of gender, race, faith, or sexual orientation are protected.
  • Workers enjoy unemployment insurance, disability pay, worker’s compensation, and Social Security.
  • People with mental illness and developmental disabilities are now afforded humane treatment.
  • Medicaid and Medicare give poor, disabled and elderly people access to health care.
  • Society seeks to prevent child abuse and neglect.
  • Treatment for mental illness and substance abuse is gradually losing its stigma.

“Although my reflections may sound a little corny to younger social workers, I recommend that they find a hero in the field to look up to and take inspiration from when the going gets tough. It may be one of your clients or a co-worker or a family member or a historic figure like mine. It doesn’t matter. We need heroes to model ourselves after when we are required to be heroes.”


motivation in social work

Motivation mixed with Inspiration is rocket fuel for the weary social worker. When the going gets tough it is indeed energizing to remember who or what inspired you to become a social worker. However, to continue in the job in the face of enormous obstacles requires a daily inventory of your personal motives for coming to work every day. It doesn’t matter how mundane or pedestrian they may seem, your motives are the needs and wants that slurp your coffee, pull on your coat, turn the key in the ignition, and drive you to work every day.

At root, there are only two motivations: 1. Money and 2. Love. At the root of the money root there is the survival root. Ask yourself this question - If you had $5 million in your bank account, would you continue to come to work at this agency?

If the answer is an emphatic - NO, then you know that money is your root motivation.

If, on the other hand, the answer is YES, then you know that love is your root motivation. You want to love your clients and probably you want your clients to love you.

For Love or Money

It doesn’t matter whether love or money is your root motivation, and it may well be both. When you get overworked and feel burnout sneaking up on you, remember why you came to work today. Not why you came to work in the past or will come in the future. Just today. This exercise will amaze and delight you. Give it a try.


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Topics: social workers

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