Practical tools I am learning in class

Wow, it’s hard to believe that this semester will be ending in about 3 weeks. It seems to be a common occurrence that as each semester starts to wind down, I think back and have thoughts about how fast the semesters seem to go by. This semester is no exception.

I thought I would share about a few practical things that I have learned in class this semester. I have especially enjoyed SoWo 540-Social Work Practice with Families, Individuals & Groups. In my part time work as a substance abuse counselor, and in my field placement work, where I am working with adolescent substance abusers, I, of course, have frequent opportunities for direct practice, so this class has proven to be one that is providing very sound practical skills that I can use in my work with clients.

In this class I have learned the skill of “seeking concreteness.” I just completed a paper this week that involved a process recording of an individual session with one of my clients, and then analyzing the skills I used during the interview. This was a good opportunity to learn the skill of seeking concreteness to aid my client in moving from discussing their experiences and feelings in general terms, to viewing and discussing their experiences and feelings more concretely, in more specific terms. Sometimes I need to check out my perceptions based on what the client is saying, so that I clearly understand their comments, which often seem to be shared in more general terms. This is another important reason to seek concreteness in my work with clients.

I am also learning the skill of “furthering.” In furthering, I am able to let the client know that I am present and listening and to encourage them to continue verbalizing. Examples of furthering include such simple brief comments as “I see,” “Please, tell me more,” or “Mm-mmm” (the so called emphatic grunt). It’s exciting to learn such practical skills that I can literally take and use in my work with clients right away. One of the greatest challenges, and also one of the most exciting aspects of working directly with clients, I believe, is the realization that there is so much to learn about conducting effective therapy, of truly becoming the social worker that can best aid the client in their journey of recovery and personal growth. I look forward to continuing this learning process and to becoming a truly effective social worker for my clients.

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About Boyd Wilson

I am a 2nd Year student in the Triangle Distance Ed. MSW program here at the UNC School of Social Work. I live in Raleigh. I am 47 years old and began a mid-life career change a few short years ago. After taking some substance abuse counseling classes and passing a credentialling exam, I began working as a substance abuse counselor in 2009. I am passionate about working with people who live with addiction. I am currently doing my foundation year field placement in an employer-based field placement setting at First Step Services in Raleigh, NC. The focus of my field placement work is working with the adolescent substance abuse program at First Step. I am still exploring specific populations that I would like to serve in the substance abuse field. During my first year I did some research for an oral presentation where I learned more about "pregnant and parenting females with substance use disorders." I found myself getting quite interested in someday working with this stigmatized population and hope to do so at some point in my career. At this point I would say that I have an interest in that population as well as adolescents and adults who live with addiction. I also have a strong interest in the use of spirituality in the healing process. As for outside interests, I enjoy competitive swimming and working out at the gym.
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