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An Analysis of The Overall Status of Social Workers in Singapore

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What are some of the matters pertaining to Singapore’s social work field? What are social workers in Singapore expected to do, challenges faced by them and how they achieve work-life balance? I am glad that the visits to Thye Hua Kwan Family Service Centre (THK FSC) @ MacPherson and WINGS Counselling Centre (WCC) have answered to these queries and allowed me to gain a deeper insight into the social work sphere.

On several occasions, it was mentioned and highlighted that inter-agency cooperation is vital in the social service sector. For instance, WCC would coordinate their services with other agencies such as referring cases to FSCs for services that are out of their provided expertise and Ministry of Social and Family Development and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore coordinated efforts in developing a Information and Communication Technologies plan for effective service delivery in the social service sector (IDA, 2013). I agree on the underscored statement because all efforts will be effectively and efficiently coordinated to address people’s needs, as I believe that no one agency can singlehandedly do it all by themselves. Likewise, I suppose the practice of coordinating efforts apply to social workers as well, where the code of professional ethics for social workers (SASW, 2004, p. 4) states that social workers should cooperate among various disciplines for effective service provision due to individual’s specific competence. This practice is essential because social workers can tap on the strengths of other disciplines and even within their own agency to aid the client. As I think social workers are not super heroes who can work out all the problems presented, so for client’s benefits and for their needs to be met proficiently and promptly, different skills from various professions must be pulled together.

Following on, even though the visits did not truly focus on the current trending issues such as the silver and migrant population, but they concentrated on youth issue which is much closer to my heart and dysfunctional families. I truly agree with Mr Lau Hon Shin, a counselor from WINGS, when he said that prevention is better than cure in regards to youth issues. It is noticeable that our government is focusing a lot on preventive methods such as attractive and engaging youth programs and fundamental methods of keeping youths in school, such as Institute of Technical Education and Northlight School, to keep them away from trouble and develop them holistically. These comprehensive interventions to youth issues ought to be highly prioritized because these problems are one of the main causes behind the vicious cycle of intergenerational dysfunctional families. However in my opinion, even though there are many interventions for youth issues, they are not effectively reaching out to all those who are in need or at-risk. Compulsory school based youth-at-risk programs might not effectively engage and involve all wayward youths who are in their stage of freedom desiring as they were forced to attend those sessions. Additionally, speaking from a youth point of view, I think that a young person would tend to hide their pain and problems or share it with their closest peers and they might not know where or who they can approach for help, or how to do so. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for parents, teachers or school counselor to identify at-risk youths, especially those with the thoughts of self-harm. Baumrind (1991) stated that parents are a part of oneself and attachment to family will beneficially facilitates adolescence development (p.60). Similar to her, I believe good parenting skills and a robust family really do make a difference in these youths’ life, as I am always a firm believer that for one to solve a problem they should engage and start from the core or inside out, their family. Adding on, I feel that programs created should cater to individual youth’s character, needs and wants. Though it will be tedious, but the customized intervention will best suit and benefit the child. Likewise, social workers and programs should help youths to find their potential, see their strengths, gain self-confidence and solve their own problems under supervision and help. As cliché as it might be, youths are the future of this nation, they are competent agents and social workers’ helpful partners.

Hence, this brings me to the next point of dysfunctional families, an issue that is one of the many causes behind youth problems. Ms Adilah from THK FSC mentioned that most of the clients who came forward only to seek for financial help that is the most common presenting issues. However, there are many other underlying issues hidden beneath it of a dysfunctional family. So I think it is vital to build good rapport with clients and show that we believe in them; only with a good relationship will the client trusts the social worker. Therefore, all social workers must be persevering as some clients might not shall their problems all at one go. Following the previous point, many social workers might have instances where clients do not listen or heed on the advices suggested by them. The visits again emphasized on social work’s limelight term, client’s self-determination. Essentially, I believe a social worker’s roles are to uncover client’s strengths and tap on it. They should not focus too much on the mistakes made or weakness but place importance on looking out for the strengths. Additionally, according to SASW (2004), social worker’s role is also to provide all information needed for clients to make an informed decision and to take note of affirming client’s right to self-determination (p.3). I think social workers are empowering their clients through respecting the clients’ abilities, make their own decisions and work their way out of the problems. Social workers are not just spoon-feeding them but are guiding the clients and making them change agent of their own life.

Based on the experiences shared by various social workers, there are many challenges social workers would go through that might affect the service provided. An example would be, countertransference, when social worker’s unconscious emotions or feelings towards the client might seep through and interfere on how he or she deal with certain problems. Even though countertransference is inevitable, I think social workers should acknowledge and point out these problems to their supervisors or colleagues to take in advices in managing these matters. Subsequently, Mr Lau pointed on self-care for social workers. Initially, I was apprehensive and frequently questioned myself on this career prospect when several peers and educators warned me on the long working hours and stressfulness. But, similar to what many have said, social workers are not super heroes; long hours in the long term do more harm than benefits. Hence, I believe if an individual practices self-care through work-life balance and good time management, it will reduce the unnecessary compassion fatigue and burnout. With self-care comes better job performance, so this would not only benefit them but the clients as well.

For me, the most significant part during the two visits was being inspired by the social workers and counselors’ drive that kept them going in this field despite the heap of challenges. Social workers will get extremely drained at times but the fulfillment of bringing positive changes to someone else’s life overpowered the weariness. I would not mind exchanging days of exhaustion in exchange for a brighter future for my clients. Next, they also underlined the fact that there was empowerment through empowering their clients. I was really enthused by this line, as I believe that social workers do have a lot to learn from their clients at times. For instance, the clients’ strengths and willpower could be the ‘push’ to the social worker’s back, to keep them going in their career.

On the whole, this visits really fuelled my decision to pursue social work as a career. The reason being that I am even more aware of the gaps present in the social service sector tackling youth issues. Thus, this made me even more driven to be the change agent of this problem after gaining insights on how to be an effective social worker through the professional ethics and self-care importance. I really hope to be part of the profession to witness and help those little diamonds in the rough to see the silver lining and reach their maximum personal potential to gleam.

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An Analysis of the Overall Status of Social Workers in Singapore. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/an-analysis-of-the-overall-status-of-social-workers-in-singapore/
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An Analysis of the Overall Status of Social Workers in Singapore [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 26 [cited 2022 May 22]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/an-analysis-of-the-overall-status-of-social-workers-in-singapore/
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