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Discussion: Social Work History, Mission, and Your Role

You may arrive at this course with a background in a helping profession. Perhaps you work at an agency that helps children, or you have seen an opportunity to further support aging populations through your work in an assisted living home.

Perhaps you or a family member have been helped by a service you didn’t even know existed, experiencing firsthand the transformative power of social work. Or, you may have looked at the community around you and felt a calling to do more.

These touchpoints of inspiration are not naïve or overly simplistic. In fact, this week’s selection of videos features similar stories of inspiration turned to practice from social workers with long tenures in the field. In this Discussion, you explore how your social work inspiration aligns with the inspiration of others.

To Prepare

· Watch the videos about social work and different types of social work practice in the

Learning Resources


· Read about the social work profession.

By Day 3

Post a response to the following:

· Provide an introduction of yourself including:

· Name

· Location

· Past social work experience

· Reasons for pursing an MSW

· Identify what you learned in this week’s Learning Resources that inspired you the most about the social work profession.

· Explain why what you identified inspired you. Make sure to refer to specific details, stories, or examples.

· Explain how what you learned aligns with your own professional goals.

Support your post with examples from the course text to demonstrate that you have completed the required readings, understand the material, and are able to apply the concepts.

Learning Resources

Required Readings

Cox , L. E., Tice, C. J., & Long, D. D. (2019). Introduction to social work: An advocacy-based profession (2nd ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.

· Chapter 1: “The Social Work Profession” (pp. 3–21)

Introduction to Social Work: An Advocacy-Based Profession, 2nd Edition by Cox, L.; Tice, C.; Long, D. Copyright 2019 by SAGE Publications, Inc. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications, Inc via the Copyright Clearance Center. Licensed in 2020.

Walden University: Writing Center. (n.d.). Common assignments: Discussion posts. 

Required Media

Watch the videos below for the Discussion. Then, be sure to view the items under 

Important Program Information

 that follows.

Walden University. (2016, 2021). Why I became a social worker [Video].

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 3 minutes.

Accessible player 

Walden University. (2021). What it means to be a graduate student [Video].

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 5 minutes.

Accessible player 

Credit: “”

Walden University. (2021). What inspired me to pursue a graduate degree in social work [Video].

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 6 minutes.

Accessible player 
Credit: “”

Walden University. (2021). A day in the life [Video].

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 5 minutes.
Accessible player 

Walden University. (2016, 2021). The criminal justice arena: With Dr. Peter Meagher [Video].

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 4 minutes.

Accessible player 

Walden University. (2016, 2021). Working with aging clients: With Dr. Donna McElveen [Video].

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 2 minutes.

Accessible player 

Walden University. (2016, 2021). Working with children and families: With Dr. Debbie Rice [Video].

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 3 minutes.
Accessible player 
Important Program Information

Be sure to review the two items below, both of which contain important information about the MSW program.

Walden University. (2021). MSW student orientation [Interactive module].

Walden University. (2019). MSW field experience [Video].

Accessible player 

Why I Became a Social Worker

© 2016 – 2020 Walden University 1

Why I Became a Social Worker

Program Transcript


DONNA MCELVEEN: I came across social work in a very indirect way. I really didn’t
know what social work was, didn’t know any social workers, but knew I wanted to enter
a helping profession.


I picked up a pamphlet on helping professions and began to read. And as I read the
social work section, I noticed two really important words, justice and social change. And
it resonated with me because my whole life, I’ve been really a person of justice and a
person who wants society to be good for all people.

And as I read this, it became part of me. And I began to explore the field of social work.
And that was about 17 years ago.

DEBBIE RICE: Well, I was raised in a family that was very much oriented toward other
folks. And so we learned from a very early age to be concerned with the needs and
what was going on for other people in the community.

And so at first, I wanted to be an attorney. And then I realized, I’m really concerned with
what goes on before somebody gets arrested rather than after they get arrested. And so
seeing how my mom and dad did things and just being part of that kind of family
process, said, social work’s where you belong.

PETER MEAGHER: I wanted to help the community be better. And I was inspired with a
social justice lens. And that moved me into, down the road, into really wanting to
experience people and places that were different than me.

And I ended up joining the Peace Corps, and did a stint there, spent some time in Africa
teaching, and had some amazing experiences there. And I thirsted for more and ended
up getting connected into a homeless and runaway youth agency. And honestly, I was
surrounded by social workers.

And I was like, I want to be like those guys. I want their job. And so that inspired me to
go on to get a master’s degree in social work, and then go off into the community, and
do those things that really moved me and made a difference in my life and the lives of


Working with Aging Clients with Dr. Donna McElveen

© 2016-2020 Walden University 1

Working with Aging Clients with Dr. Donna McElveen
Program Transcript

DR. DONNA MCELVEEN: My advice would be not to shy away from the aging
population. It’s a very rewarding and growing aspect of social work. As a social
worker working in the area of aging, I worked with those clients who were
beginning to have physical decline and cognitive decline, but I also worked with
their families as they struggle to take the caregiver role and determine what the
best care is for their senior. Also, working in an area where maybe people are
dealing with loss and grief over an Alzheimer’s diagnosis or the ultimate loss
through a death.

Social workers spend a lot of time working with families when they work with
aging clients. A social worker working with the aging population can find
opportunities for that work in hospitals, nursing homes, adult daycare centers,
and also home care. In all settings, you’ll probably find yourself engaging in some
family meetings, multidisciplinary team meetings, assessments, as well as
brokering services for aging clients who are trying to live in their home without
being institutionalized.

If you are a student interested in the aging population, I would suggest that you
really explore your community for opportunities to intern in this area, to see what
you can learn about the population. Maybe get involved in a few agencies that
support seniors, the Alzheimer’s Association, or senior care line.

A lot of students coming into social work don’t really look at this field as part of
something they want to do, and I just want to encourage social workers to
explore it, give it a chance. It’s a population that needs our service and it’s
growing, so there are a number of opportunities. I would hope they would
consider it.

A Day in the Life

© 2020 Walden University 1

A Day in the Life

Program Transcript

NICOLE CAVANAGH: One of the great things about a typical life in the social worker is
that there is no typical life.


You come into work engaging with vulnerable clients in all levels of need, all levels of
unpreparedness to meet the needs that they have in their life. So you are constantly
using those critical thinking skills to help manage resources for the client.

ROCIO TERRY: A day in the life for me is actually managing, managing programs,
managing staff. In the past, I’ve opened programs, like a nonprofit urgent care here in
San Diego, California. So I’ve done policy work, lobbying. So those are some of the
more nontraditional roles that we often think about or fail to think about when it comes to
social work.

EMMETT ROBERTS: A typical day in the life of a social worker is you don’t know what’s
going to happen that day. Because you never know when the phone is going to ring,
when somebody is going to walk in your office, and what it is that they’re going to need.

ROCIO TERRY: There’s forensic social work, psychiatric social work, geriatric social
work, medical social work. There’s now sports social work. If you’re interested in helping
athletes, the NFL, the NBA, NCAA at universities, they’re hiring social workers to help
their student athletes. So I really encourage you, whatever it is that you’re interested in,
make that your average day in the life of a social worker, because this degree is very,
very diverse.

RENATA HEDRINGTON: Things that surprised me and challenges. Those are the
mothers who really are good mothers, but they just don’t know how to parent. So you’re
constantly finding resources, and to make sure they get there, you’re going to take
them, and you’re going to participate. Or those kids who’ve been locked up and have
gotten out of the juvenile facility, but you got to acclimate them back into the real world
to know that all the structure that they have witnessed or been under, that you could
help them transition and become productive and normal.

NICOLE CAVANAGH: I think I was totally unprepared for the level of feelings that I had
as a result of engaging with clients, hearing their traumas, hearing their stories. I really
thought, oh, I got this. This is not about me. And yet, on some sort of subconscious
level, it was all seeping into who I was and collecting.

EMMETT ROBERTS: It was the last day that I was getting ready to terminate with a
client. We had done some exceptional work. And my client was a four-year-old, and I’d
been working with her, and she had a one-year-old sister, and then her mom.

A Day in the Life

© 2020 Walden University 2

And I got a call that morning that I needed to rush to the hospital. I was prepared for
something to be wrong with the grandma, who my client and her mother lived with. In
fact, it was the one-year-old baby had died of SIDS. I don’t know how to prepare for
that, for dealing with a family that’s just lost a one-year-old, and a one-year-old that
you’ve been interacting with for several months.

That was probably one of the hardest days that I had as a social worker. So that day, I
did a lot of hugging and reassuring myself that the world was an OK place. And again,
because of confidentiality, I mean, you really can’t tell family and friends the specifics
about what you do, but in having your own supportive community, they can just have an
idea that all sorts of things can happen to you, and so when you need something, and
you have a supportive community who will respond to that, you can’t pay for that.

NICOLE CAVANAGH: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to admit you
need help. Even today, after so many years and so many clients, I still need help, and
I’m OK with that.

RENATA HEDRINGTON: Great days in social work are many so long as you don’t
measure others by your personal agenda, but you know– you accept the diversity that
we serve, and every day is a good day.

NICOLE CAVANAGH: A good day for me, as a therapist working in mental health, was
to be able to be prepared to engage with my clients, to be knowledgeable in those

EMMETT ROBERTS: Working with that client who’s really, really been struggling and
has that aha moment, that epiphany of, oh, this is what I need to do to get where I want
to go. And so when that happens, that is really, really exciting because then you know
what you’ve done is worth it.


A Day in the Life
Content Attribution

Newman, K. (n.d.). Two Photos of Karlise Newman [Photograph]. Used with permission
of Karlise Newman.

Terry, R. (n.d.). Various Photographs [Photograph]. Used with permission of Rocio

Street, K. (n.d.). Photo of Kimberly Street [Photograph]. Used with permission of
Kimberly Street.

A Day in the Life

© 2020 Walden University 3

Cavanagh, N. (n.d.). Photo of Nicole Cavanagh [Photograph]. Used with permission of
Nicole Cavanagh.

Hedrington-Jones, R. (n.d.). Photos by Renata Hedrington-Jones [Photograph].





Working with Children and Families with Dr. Debbie Rice

© 2016-2020 Walden University 1

Working with Children and Families with Dr. Debbie Rice
Program Transcript

DR. DEBBIE RICE: When I first started as a social worker, I worked in an
alternative sentencing program for at-risk youth. And so, this was youth who had
been charged with status offenses, mostly things like running away or truancy or
maybe not responding to their parents’ instructions.

And that led me to an opportunity to work in England for a while, in a youth
development facility, which is similar to our juvenile delinquency facilities. And
what happened in the juvenile delinquency facility is that I began to see that the
youth had so many different family experiences that had brought them to the
behaviors that they were showing today, whether that was domestic violence or
abuse, maybe they had parents who were incarcerated or on drugs and alcohol.
And it came to me that we’ve got to do more than just work with the kids. We’ve
got to work with the whole family to change things.

And so my role as a social worker was meeting with the youth, meeting with their
families, but then also going out and talking to the schools, talking to community
service work agencies where maybe the youth had been sent to do community
service or restitution. A big part of my work at that time was writing reports for the
court, and so you really have to be prepared to put your thoughts and your
impressions in writing and submit those to a judge in open court. And so I did a
lot of that.

I want to give the advice that I was given and pass that on, and that was to say
yes to every opportunity. Because right now you’re at a stage where there are so
many options available to you. So say yes, and take those chances. Even if you
don’t think it’s something you would particularly like to do, say yes anyway and
give it a try. You’ve got lots of opportunity to find your passion.

I think the biggest reward is to see the long term progress. Change doesn’t
happen immediately. One of the youth that I had in the alternative sentencing
program comes up and says, I don’t know if you remember me, but I was
sentenced to whatever, and I just want you to know that this is what I’m doing
today. And that’s really neat. That’s such a great opportunity to see the change
that can happen, and to realize that families can heal and lives can be really

The Criminal Justice Arena with Dr. Peter Meagher

© 2016-2020 Walden University 1

The Criminal Justice Arena with Dr. Peter Meagher
Program Transcript

DR. PETER MEAGHER: Working with incarcerated, adjudicated, at-risk, high-
risk young people is a high need. The criminal justice arena is vast in terms of
how social workers interface with it. And we really could think about it from the
prevention standpoint, the incarceration standpoint, post-incarceration
standpoint– from the prevention area is almost everything we do in social work–
is building up, strengthening individuals, building off of their assets, helping them
find their own strengths and build off of those in every way that you can imagine,
whether that’s employment, addressing mental health issues, addressing pro-
social skills.

Incarceration is– many times we have social workers who work with both
inmates and inmates who are ready to be released back into the community,
helping them find and build their own strengths, address deficits, and be the best
that they can be. And then there’s the post-incarceration, which is the
reintegration back into the community. And all of those levels, a broad frame
that’s been around for the last 10 to 20 years is an idea called restorative justice.

We’ve had decades of research of really high-quality research on practices of
restorative justice and what that means to people in their lives down the road. We
know that it decreases recidivism. People are less likely to offend. We know that
people are more likely to pay back their restorative sanctions.

We know that victims feel better about the processes. So I would really inspire
folks to look into the concept of restorative justice and the exciting place to be a
part of restorative justice, and to help people actually heal, get better, and be
stronger members of our community.

Two broad areas of advicea– one is to know yourself. I think that’s critical. And
what I mean by that is, what do you like to do and who do you like to do it with?
For example, I enjoy working with men. I enjoy working with men around issues
of violence, masculinity, and power.

Some people just hate that, and that’s not going to be good for them. So don’t.
Don’t do that. So know who you like to work with and what, generally– what are
the topics? Where does your passion lie?

Find ways to improve yourself. Find ways– go to conferences. Connect with
others and continually improve yourself, so that you’re on the cutting edge.

You know your field. You’re challenging yourself, and you’re bringing that kind of
freshness back into your work with the folks that you’re engaging with.

The Criminal Justice Arena with Dr. Peter Meagher

© 2016-2020 Walden University 2

One of the big payoffs that I had was I’ve had some of my clients circle back to
me or I’ve seen them out in the community, and just glowing about the
experience that they had, and what a difference that it made. And for me, what’s
important is to be a part of that change process, whether it’s of an individual, a
group, or a community, and seeing that change go forward and happen. That’s
very gratifying.

I think that the payoff is that these are young people who aren’t often given
positive attention. They’re often given negative attention, and I think they are
desperate for having somebody who is a firm, positive role model in their life. I
guess I really want folks to look at the area of criminal justice in all of that range,
from the prevention, intervention, post-incarceration, as a way to keep our
community strong and safe.

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