Friday, June 26, 2009

When In Doubt, Give Hope: 2009 Graduation Speech by Allison Anais Brunner

[Episode 51] Hello, podcast listener. It is June 21, 2009 – the first day of summer. By now all of the schools of social work in the United States have had their spring graduation and unleashed tens of thousands of newly minted social workers into the world. You might be one of these recent graduates. Like those who came before you and those who will come after, you’ve spent the last 2 – 5 years becoming socialized into the profession of social work. You’ve written thousands of papers, spent thousands on books, spent thousands of hours with clients (or close to it), you’re your share of group projects, process recordings, video taped assignments, ... all to become skilled professionals who can provide competent and ethical social work services to your clients.

Well, today’s podcast is a tribute to you. And who better to pay tribute than a fellow student. Today we’re going to hear Allison Anais Brunner’s 2009 MSW graduation speech from Temple University’s School of Social Administration. In her speech, entitled, “When In Doubt, Give Hope,” Allison juxtaposes the anxieties and doubts that recent graduates feel with their professional responsibility to hold hope for their clients. She describes her own doubts as a social worker, relates those to her personal moments of doubt and shares how she drew from those experiences to help her client. Using our experiences to benefit our clients rather than ourselves, is what we call “professional use of self.” And as Carl Rogers demonstrated many years ago, bringing our genuine self to the clinical relationship is one of the most important things we can do to help our clients. So, I dedicate this podcast to you, our professions newest members. And now Allison Anais Brunner and her speech, “When In Doubt, Give Hope.”


Download MP3 [9:47]

3 comments:

Sarah and Chris said...

Oh, I would recognize this anywhere as a "just graduated with my MSW" speech. It's nice---it truly is.

My gut says that following this advice to its end isn't quite what our profession is about. I'm concerned, and I've witnessed, false hope being given out too freely. Placing our expectations and hopes on clients to make them feel, temporarily, better and rosy. Comments like "you'll surely find a job soon" or "I know you will never relapse again." My MSW did not come with a crystal ball, albeit tempting to say comments such as these to comfort and support clients and communities.

What an unhopeful-sounding comment I am leaving! I mean no disrespect. Ms. Brunner is right in discussing the power of hope, but I'm not sure this moves our profession further along in translating our roles as social workers to our clients, policy makers, families, or the larger public.

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