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Family Values

An important Italo-Canadian family value is shared meal times

Individuals, couples, or families seeking clinical support from registered social workers, psychotherapists, or child therapists enter the work with deeply held views about family traditions, cultures, rituals, and beliefs that have been passed down to generations over several centuries. In some countries, people are still able to leave work for part of the day in order to eat a meal with one another before returning back to business. Family values are heartfelt and central to the ways people live their life. They also shape the ways we understand and solve problems. Something as simple as mealtime together remains a priority in most families. There are several studies that demonstrate the correlation between regular shared meals and overall social and emotional wellbeing. People are more likely to maintain healthy communication patterns with one another when eating at home on a regular basis and at predictable times. The roles members play around food preparation, planning, and clean-up are dynamic and usually shared with everyone involved. It takes time for a clinical social worker to help families express values they hold most dear, and where perhaps, there is some disagreement. Often, mediating these differences of opinion or disagreements becomes the clinical work over several sessions. It is often in these practical spaces of the everyday that people run into problems with one another. It is also in this space that solutions emerge, later, in session. What are your plans for dinner today? How many meals did you share with people who matter most in your life? What, if anything needs to change? What are examples of other values families hold dear and may wish your intervention to protect and repair through your clinical practice?

#wellness #familytherapy #childandfamilytherapy #philosophyofcare #care #health #values #dinnertime #socialemotionalwellbeing #success #healthy

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Sense of Self

Your sense of self grows naturally

Developing one’s sense of self is a lifelong journey. It exists deeply within one’s inner most being. A sense of self has been written about over the centuries and in many ways. Taken up spiritually, the self is equated with the soul. Philosophically, a sense of self is a metaphysical idea existing in one’s awareness in the mind. This metaphysical idea of the self allows you to reflect and think about yourself from the outside in. In current times, the physical self is a subject of much thought and at times lively debate. The corporeal embodiment of the self is thought to construct one’s sense of self. The simple recipe of caring for body, mind, and spirit underlies clinical social work. When one’s sense of self is unsettled, disturbed, troubled, or questioned, it is important to slow down and turn inward. Engaging children clinically during periods of emotional agitation likely involves work that supports a nascent sense of self independent from their primary caregivers. Learning to live in a world as responsible persons is developmental. Clinical social work helps when the core sense of self is obscured by difficult situations beyond one’s control. A healthy sense of self balances demands to take care of others with the need to take care of oneself.

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Cultural integration is like a passage of space in-between.

There are several terms used in Social Work to explain the importance of culture, tradition, history, folklore and language. As a child of parents who immigrated to Canada from Italy following World War II, I am very familiar with the struggles of new Canadians settling in a foreign country without one or both dominant languages. Of course, we learned English and some conversational French at school. Our parents also learned English to communicate with new neighbours and friends. Our cultural traditions and practices remained central to our new life in Toronto. These early experiences were foundational to my professional life as Social Worker and Academic. This highly personal experience as “others” is viscerally familiar. The expectation to appropriately translate words, read signs, and express ourselves with less passion, exuberance, and joy was an ongoing struggle for me. I worked to help bridge two worlds without ever compromising my parents, or my own, sense of respect, dignity, and intelligence. Sometimes, an accent, especially a heavy one elicits surprising responses. The view that people are rude if they raise their voice or speak in a demanding tone in an effort to be better understood is one such example. In the early 1990’s, popular social work theories included culturally and multiculturally sensitive social work practices. The view that people had implicit knowledge, rituals, traditions, and values related to their own cultural heritage was a starting place for clinical social workers. The view that people invited you to understand their cultural perspectives and practices was highly valued as both protective and progressive at that time. In my view, it is not possible to understand a person’s emotional sense of self without positive regard and affirmation for one’s culture, ethnicity, or race. Ethno-compassion seems to express these concepts best, especially when working with newcomers and second generation Canadians. Lisa Romano-Dwyer PhD, RSW

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Visualizing your goals helps to ensure success !

Perseverance is a key attribute of success. It is the resolve to get something done. Reflective practitioners develop a set of professional goals and work to achieve these with the support of colleagues and friends. Social Workers have a variety of effective practice-approaches for use with people. Some approaches are effective with certain identified problems, people, and events, and others are not. Developing a sophisticated clinical repertoire occurs over several years and in a variety of settings where social work is offered. It is common to resonate with and develop approaches that more easily fit with your own perspectives, values, cultural beliefs, and folkloric traditions. Clinical discretion is often a theoretical melange of the personal, the political, and the other. Professional and personal values are able to co-exist well in social work without conflict. The other here refers to a client system consenting to intervention, and not to a particular person or population per se. There is no way to expunge the clinician from the clinical work at hand. In fact, a clinical social worker is a mediator or tool through which substantive work happens. It is this very point that makes social work an intense profession that requires clinical supervision and a thoughtful philosophy of care. Social work is a discrete profession that recognizes the importance of people in the work. Building a healthy boundary for this important emotional work to happen is a vital social work role as it provides the strong base upon which people are able to work through their own healing.

#care #wellness #healthy #health #wellbeing #socialwork #therapy #philosophyofcare #clinicalwork #perseverance #professionalstandards #goalsetting #goalsetting #independence

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Understanding your Anger

Anger is one of the most identifiable emotions people experience. But don’t let it overwhelm you.

Anger is a basic human emotion that signals a problem. Depicted here as stormy waters, anger is a range of negative feelings that builds over time and in certain situations. Infants communicate their needs for comfort, reassurance, and basic care through crying and anger. Similar to other emotions, anger may grow into a habitual response. In these situations, people begin to respond to almost every situation with negativity and anger. Everyone experiences anger. In general, it is unpleasant and hard to be around on a regular basis. It is often easier to identify anger in others than it is to identify it in ourselves. The clinical work involved in helping people to regulate their own anger and to co-regulate the anger of family members, children, and teens can be intense. Similar to other emotions, anger is contagious. It is common that one person’s angry feeling sets off similar reactions in people around them. An assertive response that helps to reduce anger in the moment is to gently label the feeling that you are sensing when with the angry person. For example, “it sounds like you are angry” or “it seems that something is making you angry”, or “are you feeling angry with me about something?”. Assertive statements are effective anger reducers that clearly draw a boundary around who the anger belongs to and where it might be coming from in session. Both research and practice experience shows that anger is likely to reduce through the mere act of talking about it. When we externalize angry feelings by labelling them as a stormy emotions or feelings for instance, people are able to immediately feel a sense of relief. Where trust grows in a caring climate over time, clients will freely discuss problems of anger with you without fear of reprisal or judgment. Anger in and of itself is not the problem. The real problem activates angry emotions and requires some work to uncover. Try externalizing your problems with anger today and think about what you learned from this exercise.

#socialwork #mentalhealth #angermangement #anger #coping #healthy #health #familywellbeing #wellness #wellbeing #care #fairness #gentle #counselling #assertive #assertivenessskills #trust #moods #wellbeing

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It’s all about balance

It’s easiest to understand notions of balance, regulation, and choice in relation to food.

Emotion regulation is a newer concept in clinical social work. Although the work builds on years of theory borrowed from Psychology, Psychiatry, and Medicine, the idea fits well within a bio-psycho-social framework of practice. Emotion regulation refers to the processes that people use to cope, manage, express, or deal with personal feelings to situations, events, other people, ideas, thoughts, or experiences. In clinical social work, the tasks of the therapist is to collaborate with people on identifying those aspects in their lives that trigger overwhelming emotions. Everyone regulates their personal feelings throughout the day. Most people are able to cope with the feelings they experience throughout the day and adjust their behaviours accordingly. So, if I am finding a particular way of driving to work stressful, I may opt to take a new road, or leave at a different time of day. It is only when people are restricted to adjust, accommodate, modify, or change behaviour in response to particularly triggering events that people grow increasingly stressed. Most times, we are in control of the changes required to manage and cope with our personal levels of stress. Other times, we are not, which may be the case in work or employment related problems. Similar to the food choices we make each day, emotional balance is also key. The human body is a carbon system that is prone to break down without significant periods of rest, relaxation, healthy nutrition, fresh air, and physical exercise. Chronic stress activates cortisol and other harmful hormones in the body, which may become your habitual response pattern to all life events regardless of the event itself. Where you have neglected your emotional diet and have failed to balance stress with rest, your ability to emotionally regulate in a healthy fashion may also be off kilter. Signs that you are not managing your personal feelings in a healthy manner usually involves mounting physical cues from your body such as heart palpitations, breathlessness, shallow breathing, increase in blood pressure, headaches, body aches, uncontrollable crying, or aggression. The people closest to you and who love you most will communicate honestly with you about the impact your stress level is having on them as well. Negative emotions are contagious and are difficult to live with, work with, or be with on a regular basis. As adults, we are all responsible for our own feelings. As parents, we are also responsible to teach, co-regulate, and support our children as they grow and learn to manage and balance the stresses in their own lives. How is your emotional diet today? Do you feel balanced and well?

#health #emotionregulation #mentalhealth #stress #stressmanagement #employmentstress #honesty #wellbeing #healthychildren #familytherapy #cortisol #toxicity #socialcontagion #emotionalbalance #harmony #wellness #personalfeelings #feelings #gratitude #safeschools #anxiety #aggression #adrenaline #anger #angermanagement #stressreducers #learningpeace #empathy #compassion #charitystartsathome #bewell

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Philosophy of Care

Sadness is part of everyone’s life. What is your care-work with people who express sadness?

From the very moment a person decides to explore a career in Social Work, the beginnings of a philosophy of care emerges. Similar to other health related fields, Social Workers aim to help people, communities, and institutions find ways, strategies, approaches, and solutions to problems they identify. At both clinical and policy levels, social work centralizes care for others in all aspects of practice. Developing an overarching perspective about your role as social worker in relation to care-work with other people is an important process. I liken this process to an ever-changing dynamic or philosophy that continues to blossom over time. For those of us who work principally as clinical practitioners, professional careers broaden in relation to personal growth, life experience, and self-reflection. Many social workers find their professional interests change over time and in relation to their own personal life stage. So for example, a person may start their career working with children and later find marital or couple work more fulfilling. This shift in professional interest is very common during the initial ten to fifteen years in the field. What is your philosophy of care?

#socialwork #healthy #health #emotionalhealth #clinicalsocialwork #efficacy #children’smentalhealth #childtherapy #childandfamilytherapy #familytherapy #moods #wellbeing #policy #determinantsofhealth