This month, NASW Executive Director, Betsy Clark, focused her NASW News column on “The Challenge of Sadness in Social Work.” Dr. Clark discusses the turmoil, tragedy, and unrest in the world including wars, earthquakes, and tsunamis. She notes that every significant world event is accompanied by indelible images, some of which are horrific and forever etched in our memories such as the collapse of the World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, or the tsunami hitting Japanese villages. Dr. Clark says these images became a permanent part of her mental photo album.
Likewise, social workers regularly witness the daily crises and turmoil of communities and of clients. They can be saddened by their situations and their losses, some of which become personal losses and have a lasting impact. However, Dr. Clark highlights the importance of finding a way to capture the memory and put it in a proper place, so social workers can move on in their professional lives.
Dr. Clark credits the ability of social worker’s to utilize their strengths perspective, of finding the positive among the negative. She refers to this as professional resilience. Each social worker develops ways to handle human trauma and most find it helpful to focus on the importance of the triumphs, not on the tragedies.
How do you handle professional sadness and loss?