My Job

January 23, 2010

Things I Love About My Job

1.) I love my supervisor. She is steadfast, firm, committed and very ethical.

2.) I love my coworkers. They are diverse in educational background, class, race and age, even sexuality, and, to a lesser degree gender. Also my administrative team. Black, gay, smart and capable are words to describe them in toto.

3.) I love our treatment model. I mean, fuck, we *have* a treatment model. It’s some artful melange of tried and true techniques from every corner of family therapy, arranged in a systematic way that is documentable, visual and experiential.

4.) I love our ethic. For example, every service note is handwritten, during the session, with the client. which is then signed and dated by all involved. Transparent, participatory, in vivo.

5.) I love that we prioritize the “hardest-to-reach”, “treatment resistant”, “multi-problem” family. I love feeling tuff.

6.) I love that we work with families. Not individuals. Not couples. The entire household and then some. When I was working in HIV counseling, testing, and education I decided to get a social work education so I could, as a white person,  a.) have longer term relationships with the mostly black clients I serve and b.) address the causes. HIV is a symptom. And doing this family work is really doing the causes of HIV. It’s not race, gender, poverty, addiction or mental illness. HIV is ma,doyouloveme,amiloveable?

7.) I love the mix of clinical, case management, macro, research and  and administration. I love the subtle improvisation, delicate risks and heart work of therapy. I love advocating, pushing and orchestrating the system. I love reading legislation and and policy papers, not that we really do that here. I love it that we generate data. I love writing treatment plans, and service notes, I love writing court summaries and worrying over managed care organizations.

8.) There is a future here. Not only does the agency work in 4 states — NC, MD, VA and FL, but it will be expanding to other states. There are positions, and will be positions, for outpatient therapists and trainers, which are just the ones I’m excited about.

9.) They have an awesome website for employees.

10.) We have software to track paper. Every piece of paper that is associated with the state, Medicaid, and our treatment model. We have this little print-out that will tell us which paper is in the file and which isnt. So, there’s like, no need to really do hands-on record review. How great?

11.) Social work is my heart. It might be hard to be happy in this field, but this is my calling. It’s up to me to find the right practice area, the right agency, the right team, the right region, but if I can’t do it in this profession, I can’t do it anywhere.

What I Hate About My Job

1.) The company is for-profit. I’ve never worked for a for-profit. Whenever someone in charge talks about “making productivity” because there is “no mission without money” and we have to pay for “salaries and rent”, no one ever mentions the “salaries” of the two, maybe three, people who are profiting. We dont even know who they are, really. I mean, maybe someone more savvy about these things, or the company, than me does.

2.) We have to generate between 24 and 30 pages of handwritten note s every seven days. It doesnt matter if we are sitting at a kitchen table talking about extra-curricular activities or at the emergency adolescent psychiatric facility for seven hours with a kid who has threatened to cut his mother. Hand write the note with the parent sitting in front of you, ask the parent to sign and date the front and back of each page, for an average of 2 pages. I can’t keep up, keep organized, or keep the time. It’s like you spend one hour providing a service and one hour of writing a note. While the client watches you write. And wonder when the fuck you will be done. And if it doesnt get signed then, you have to go back and get it signed.

3.) I am currently working 6 days a week between 8 and 12 hours a day in order to meet “productivity”. Productivity is 6 billable hours a day. This could mean that I see two clients for two hours each day and do paperwork, make phone calls and do research for two hours, which makes sense. But for some some reason — my learning disabilities, my rigidity, and clients cancelling, I cant fucking figure it out. I learn by doing. Which is code for “I learn by suffering”.  My marriage, personal hygiene, and mental health are currently suffering.

4.) I am running my car into the the ground. In order to take this job, I bought a 12,000 purple Chevy Cobalt from CarMax. I hate cars. I hate buying gas. (I dont hate driving). I average 2,000 to 3,000 miles per month. I drive 2-3 hours a day. I eat 2-3 meals in the car per day. I havent done the math required to figure out how much I will still owe on the car loan when the car reaches 200,000 miles, but suffice it say that it will be a lot. I will be with fat car loan, but without a car. Scary.

5.) The stress. I genuinely wonder how I will be able to get or sustain a pregnant state with the amazing levels of cortisol coursing through my blood at any given moment. Homocidal ideations, evictions, spankings, running late, missing productivity, missing deadlines, suicidal ideations, drunken brawls, toddlers woefully lacking in developmental achievement, cross-cultural communication, daughters selling their psychotropic medications for the  treatment of OCD, which also happen to be drugs of abuse, to mothers, sons clocking their fathers, foster parents’ ambivalence to adopt after three years, injustice, inefficiency, inadequacy, being unable to meet the challenge of every day when even one day out of 10 feels like it is of Haiti proportions (feels, not is) — these are all baby killers.

6.) I make 12 dollars an hour. I am 3 months and 1500 dollars  away from achieving the level of licensure that will entitle me to a 10,000 dollar pay raise, but they wont give me a raise if I am not making productivity. Oh, shit. Wait a minute.

7.) My supervisor does not have the level of licensure necessary to provide me clinical supervision to towards my own licensure. So now I have to pay for it. This INFURIATES me, because, in DC, I dont know, I just have never been in this situation. And once I get my license? I will be more qualified than my boss, but maybe in name only . . .

The Bottom Line

I can only take it one day at a time. Tomorrow is my day off. I got paid last night. Wifebian and I will try to have sex, clean and talk about money between the hours of 9am and 12PM. We will then go to this awesome coffee shop and work side by side for 3-5 hours. We’ll come home. maybe see a movie. Putz. Perhaps I will paint a wall. Purple.

Sometimes I think that the best thing about having a baby is that she will stop this madness.

Wifebian is in the bedroom. Strapping on.

I have to go.


Also, I wish more social workers read this blog.


5 Responses to “My Job”

  1. missa said

    I’m not a social worker exactly although I often describe my work that way. I have a piece of paper that says I’m a Sociologist but I do very little formal research anymore and really, outside of the Academy a sociologist has very little credibility. I should write more about the work I do, but I haven’t been writing about anything lately. I share your same concerns about getting and maintaining a pregnancy working in non-profit social services. I’m overworked (atleast 10 hours extra a week), under-appreciated and constantly deskilled… I keep telling myself and the wife that this will end when I get pregnant too. I can’t wait to take care of my own family.


  2. I can relate, in a sense, to the madness that is allied health. Lia is an occupational therapists, and I [upon completing my Master’s] will be a speech-language pathologist.

    At this point, we are both overworked and have so many things that we want to do such as expand our family, and purchase a home but it is seemingly impossible especially with the stress and being over-worked aspect of the fields…

  3. Don’t underestimate the power of a purple wall 😉
    Your job sounds more like indentured servitude (Do you have to buy from the company store? Do you get reimbursed for mileage, driving time? One day off at a time?) that a living, growing career, pros notwithstanding. It sounds exploitative and stressful and like you are paying more (with your life and stress) than you can ever hope to make.
    Not that I am saying quit, but definitely keep an eye out for something bettr, even if it’s only a little better. That my very uninformed, ver humble opinion. You and wifebian deserve more time, less stress. Once you get knocked up, that goes double!

  4. Nicole said

    I’m am social worker and I just started reading your blog. My head is spinning from all your posts but I promise that after I have digested it all a bit I will do my best to write insightful, pithy and empathetic comments. In the meantime, please know that I spent all my “free” time (i.e. time when my clients no-showed but I should have been writing session notes from other clients) today reading through your blog.(And yes, I need a life).

  5. Vikki said

    I’m a social worker. A really burned out one, though.

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