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Weyburn Rotary: Social work is a ‘helping profession’

Social work is a “helping profession” that can be found in many roles and agencies in the community, Rotary Club members heard at their luncheon meeting
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Weyburn Rotary Club members heard a presentation from social worker Lisa Hallberg at their luncheon meeting on March 16.

WEYBURN – Social work is a “helping profession” that can be found in many roles and agencies in the community, Rotary Club members heard at their luncheon meeting on Thursday.

Lisa Hallberg spoke on what social workers do and how they assist people, noting that Social Work Week is on March 20-25, and March is also National Social Work Month.

She was introduced by Rotary member Duane Schultz, who was her first boss, as he hired her on to work at Mental Health and Addictions as a counsellor.

Hallberg said social workers operate under a set of values to ensure their role is one of helping people.

They believe in a person’s right to self-determination, “which basically means we support their right to make their own decisions. Sometimes that can be tough, but we do believe that,” she said, adding they also believe in a person’s right to be free of violence; they believe in social justice; fairness and equal access to resources; integrity, reliability and impartiality, confidentiality, and using non-judgmental communication.

“Social workers are men and women trained to make a difference in the lives of people and the communities we serve,” said Hallberg.

The way this is done is by helping people with problem-solving, and to access resources.

“We always remember our normal is not necessarily someone else’s normal. Our goals of what we think might be best for them may not be their goals, and so we want to validate their experiences and acknowledge their goals,” said Hallberg.

There are many ways this service can be provided, as she noted for herself, she spent the majority of her career as a counsellor with child and youth services.

Her sister worked in child protection services, which she loved, except for placements. Her sister found she couldn’t always know that a home a child was being placed in was better than the home they came from, and this weighed on her.

She ended up working in a children’s hospital in Calgary, with children who need cochlear implants, and she loved that position.

“The biggest success comes from consistent follow-through after surgery, which leads to greater success for the child,” said Hallberg. “We’re helping people to look at their options.”

Social workers need to have boundaries with their clients, as an important part of their work is to good care of themselves before they can care for others.

Workers have to be careful not to take issues on or take their work home with them, she explained. “We have to do that so we don’t burn out, because that is something in social work that is a real thing. How we do that is we have take care of ourselves and look after our own health. We have to be resilient and monitor our balance.”

This became especially important in the last two to three years, during the lockdowns due to the COVID pandemic.

To call oneself a social worker, they have to have a four-year degree in social work, and be registered with the Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers. Some employers do not require their social workers to register, such as in school divisions, but to be registered leaves one available for further schooling and more opportunities. She has her master’s degree, and she noted there are a handful of social workers who have this degree in Weyburn.

“It just opens doors for more opportunities, and more training and different areas of expertise,” said Hallberg.

There are about 20 social workers in Weyburn, and in the southeast, Schultz noted that mailouts from the Sask. Association of Social Workers go out to 73 people.

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