By Danielle Wozniak, MSW, PhD
Dorothy and David Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler School of Social Work
How Do We Heal? As social workers, this question and its answer is our work. We spend our lives seeking, applying, and crafting the answer. We pass our knowledge to subsequent generations of social workers and invite them to work towards greater understanding. Each one of us, contributes our voice, our practice experience, our wisdom, our insights, our struggles to those who suffer and to the next generation of practitioners, continuing to refine the answer in better and more expert ways. L’dor vador.
When Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a young intern she was assigned to two hospital wards of terminally ill children. On one ward she noticed that the nursing logs showed the heavy use of sleeping pills to help frightened children sleep. On the other ward, the logs showed little drug use. The children did not fret through the night, they slept. When she investigated, she found that on the ward where children slept, the night cleaning woman talked and sang to the children as she mopped the floors.
This woman provided what the children needed—someone to recognize their subjectivity, someone who was not afraid of their fear or pain, someone who would accompany them through their dark night. These children would not get well, but they could heal. This is something social workers know. Our profession is devoted to keeping watch with those in pain, accompanying those in need through their journey. Our job is to listen without flinching to people’s stories knowing that the moments of telling contain the seeds of healing, knowing that the sound that comes after a heart breaking is the sound of a heart repairing.
Lean in and consider a career in social work. Join with us to repair a fractured world by repairing fractured hearts, and families, and homes all the while knowing that your presence in someone’s life has unlimited power to change a life. Few people can say that they alter the course of history simply by going to the office each day. But as social workers, when one child heals through our work, generations are impacted and life chances are different. When a couple keeps their marriage together, when someone celebrates another day sober, when a family can come together to mourn the loss of an elder instead of splintering under grief’s weight, when someone decides not to jump or not to pull the trigger, when someone feels safer because you are there, you have altered the course of history—altered how lives will unfold, altered the legacy that will be handed to subsequent generations. As a social worker, who you are and what you do matters.
Author Margaret Weiss tells us, “We each have within ourselves the ability to shape our own destinies. But, more important, each of us has an equal ability to shape the destiny of the universe.”
At Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University we’ve been shaping the universe for the last 60 years. Let us help you be a part of that work. Call 212-960-0810 for more information.