3. Believe in your own authority.
It's true that in social work you often deal with people who need help but don't want it, and that it's often beneficial to listen as much as you speak, if not more. But social workers are also easily bullied by aggressive clients who may lack the social skills to know how to deal with their situation in other ways. Social workers cannot be successful if they are being walked all over, and it's important to make a distinction between acknowledging a client's experiences and how they are different from your own and making sure they understand you are the professional and you know how to help them. When a client bullies you or lies to you, it is often out of shame, guilt, or embarrassment. The best social workers know how to be empathetic while still maintaining the upper hand.
It's no secret that the average social worker spends a mere 8 years in the field, which tells you how stressful the job can be. But when you're dealing directly with clients, you have the most impact on people who are suffering, and one successful case will remind you why you chose this career in the first place. If you take the right steps to assess your emotional well-being and keep a positive and assertive mindset, you will be able to change lives for years to come.
Robert Neff blogs full time for sites that focus on helping the underserved. If you think being a social worker would suit your skills, you may be interested in programs offered at accredited universities such as CWRU.