Checkoutthis comment posted from a social worker who raises a great question - what are the boundaries for professionals who post their reflections on a blog?
"I love being able to read Eyes Opened Wider as well...makes my own experiences and feelings as a Social Worker in foster care seem a little bit less "abnormal". I feel like I can relate to 95% of the emotions and feelings that she faces..such hard stuff. I do have one question though as I have been reading some Social Work blogs. What are the "rules" about what is okay to share and not share in relation to confidentiality? As a Social Worker I feel dumb having to ask this, but I am always scared to write down any of my experiences and feelings, even if it is more about my reactions to the situations than it is about the clients themselves. Thoughts?"
This social worker is aware of the ethical responsibility to protect her/his client's confidence. So how do we do this while making sense of the crazy world of social work and its impact on us personally? Great question!
Self-care and self-awareness are essential to insure healthy social work practice. Blogs have become a natural extension of our professional network of support and offer a place for self-reflection that helps us to stay healthy and effective in our work with clients.
But, what are the "rules" about what we share on blogs? As with any communication, social workers are bound to protect our client's confidentiality. Period. For social work bloggers, any referene to a client MUST be carefully protected so that there isn't any way to connect the content of the blog to a person. Period.
Blogging is a conversation with an audience we don't know. But, it isn't any different with any other communcation we have outside of the protetion of our office. So, the same rules apply. What we write about on a blog need to be protected just as if we were talking with anyone outside of our office.
But the bigger point the commenter made needs to be reinforced and celebrated - "it is more about my reactions to the situations than it is about the clients themselves." Yes! Social workers who blog are reaching out to a wider professional community to make sense of our experiences to keep us healthy so that we can be competent in our work with clients.
Friday afternoons are the opposite of my Mondays. Mondays are non-stop, high energy, and a bit chaotic. Friday's are simply slower, require less energy, and peaceful. This means I have some time to catch up on social work blogs. I wish I could describe a heart wrenching reaction as I read Eyes Wider Open posted 9/17/09 "From One Mothers Arms". Those who care about children, foster care, adoption, and child protective services must read her honest and thoughtful recollection of her experience. She gives honor to all parties: the birth mother and father, the foster mother, and her own experience in the story. If I were a mom who had to give up my baby, I would want a CPS worker with compassion and empathy as described by Eyes Opened Wider.
Eyes Opened Wider is an example of how a blog is a tool for professional self-reflection that is a part of our self-care plan to protect against burnout or compassion fatigue while also telling the tough stories of CPS with respect and compassion.
Monday's are so long and so busy there is hardly time to breathe, so my goal today is to take at least one deep cleansing breath each hour and to look for opportunities to give and receive the gift of laughter and good humor.
Michelle Martin has been a big source of inspiration for me in this blog. Her post "Professional Development Practice: The One Sentence Journal" is a great example. I will give this a try and tag each post with "one sentence journal" for so that I can keep track of them over time. I also want to try and post pictures with each - this is a big challenge but one worthy of the effort.