Things have really picked up, and time is flying. It flew last year, but it feels like the world is going at warp-speed now. I work every day either at my job, my internship, or both, and some days, I have class. It is exhausting and I feel like I am simply going through the motions and all of a sudden it’s the next week and I’m starting all over again. I don’t want to complain because I chose to go back to school and I do love both my job and my internship, but it’s just a LOT of hours.

My internship and my supervisor are awesome. I’m finally allowed to answer the phones and do assessments and referrals (yay!) and I hope that next week I can take on some actual clients. I had the opportunity to observe my supervisor doing an initial counseling session today and I feel like I learned so much in just one hour. We discussed it for about 20 minutes after and did a genogram for the client. It is amazing what you can get out of simply discussing things with another person. We were able to jog each other’s memories and see patterns and details that probably would have been missed if it were just one person. My supervisor is obviously a very talented and skilled social worker, and I am excited to learn from her throughout the school year.

At this point in the program, I have heard that it is very common for students to feel that they are completely inadequate and unskilled and probably should not be allowed anywhere near a client. This is definitely the case for me. I feel like I have so much to learn despite having been in the field for a few years and already completed one internship. I suppose this is a good sign, as I would never want to get to a point where I thought I knew everything and did not need to do any more growth and self-reflection. At the same time, the thought of being bad at what I do is utterly terrifying. So much of my identity is wrapped up in social work…if I’m bad at it, then I have to reevaluate my whole vocational life.

On a rational level, I know I’m not bad at what I do. I know this because of supervision, feedback on my process recordings, and responses from clients. However, I have this ongoing thought that I am too fucked up to do this. I am so afraid that my own issues will make it difficult for me to use myself effectively as a helper. I am afraid that I will bring my own “stuff” into sessions and it will harm the client. I disclosed this worry to one of my friends in class last week, and she reassured me that my self-awareness will protect against that, and that the people who are truly going to do damage are those who have no idea of what they are bringing into session. I know she’s right, but it’s hard to develop a strong sense of self as someone who has been hurt and has their own issues they are working on, and simultaneously is able to use herself to help others. I guess I just need to constantly remind myself of the wounded healer archetype and continue to engage in self-reflection about how my history affects my work (this has helped me before with this issue).

The thing that makes MSW studies different from other graduate degrees is that in addition to developing knowledge and clinical skills, we are challenged to learn about ourselves and face personal things that can be very difficult. We learn things that we don’t like about ourselves. I need to embrace my wounds and use them to enhance my work, rather than allowing them to interfere.