I love writing. It’s kind of why I do this blogging thing. I was worried, when I started social work school, that I wouldn’t have time to write anymore. But I was wrong.
I just don’t have much time to write things that I like.
Most social work job listings (not that I’ve been looking) specify that they are looking for someone with good writing skills. I don’t think most people think of this as a field that requires tons of writing.
Let’s all take a minute to laugh at those people, shall we?
Document, document, document. It is the social work mantra. (Well, that and “be nice to each other.”) If you’ve written it down once, surely that isn’t enough. At my job, we have one computer system where we enter contacts that we have with clients. Seeing them in the office, seeing them on home visits, running into them in the bodega (seriously) it all goes in. Along with the purpose of the visit, who you saw, how long it went for,
and if anyone looked fat.
Then you get to write progress notes. Every social worker’s dream. (Did a chill just go up anyone’s spine? Just me? Oh, OK.) This is where you record everything else. Did you see the kids? Did any of them have marks or bruises? How was everyone dressed? What did you talk about? If you were in the home, was it clean? Was there food? Why were you there? Type faster, dammit, you’ve got four other people to see today!
I’m beginning to suspect that my computer judges me when I take too long to get my notes done.
Notes can be difficult. It’s like reliving a session. Sometimes, this is fine. We played with play-doh, talked about how we feel about Deadbeat Dad, and drew a picture of an angry monster.
Sometimes, it’s not.
Hmm, what happened first? Well, I think the teen revealed that she had a girlfriend. Then mom screamed at her. Then the teen stormed out. Oh no wait, first she told her mother to “fuck off.” Never mind, she stormed out, came back for her jacket, then told her mother to fuck off.
Am I allowed to write “fuck” in a progress note?
It’s better than social work school, though. In social work school you have a smaller caseload, because you’re in the office for fewer days, but you are still expected to do all the usual documentation. With one additional assignment.
PROCESS RECORDINGS. (OK, I know you all felt it get colder in here that time!)
Is there anything worse than a process recording? Really, one thing, aside from waterboarding?
For those who might be unfamiliar, there are some variations, but here are the basics. One starts off a process recording by making a nifty three column chart. This is where the fun ends.
The first column is where you write what happened in the session. Not bad, right? We do that in the progress notes!
Oh, you poor, naive bastard.
Process recordings are verbatim. Write down word for word what was said in that 45 minute meeting. And don’t leave anything out! You think it’s unimportant, but what the hell do you know? The kid interrupted you? Interesting. The dad needed a bathroom break? Was this before or after you brought up depression screenings? How long was he in there for?
The second column is where you write about the therapeutic interventions and theories you were using. “Yes, that was one of Minuchin’s techniques.” “I brought in CBT to the process.” “I’m going to say this was Freudian, but I’m pulling that out of my ass.”
Then in the third column, talk about how you were feeling while all of this was going on. “I was nervous when she brought this up.” “I experienced some counter transference at this point.”
It’s all so social work-y I could die.
The real fun happens when your supervisor goes over it with a red pen, tearing your work apart and convincing you you’ll never have a clue as to what you’re doing.
But thank goodness we get beyond that. I’ve grown into such a confident, competent, worker.
No time to write about it now, though. I’ve been working on this same note for three hours, and I’m having an anxiety attack about handing it in.