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I am a Social Worker

July 3, 2013

The clinical-legal social work role is not for the faint of heart. We stand for the needs of children, against the interests of bullies, even when the bully is the parent.

“Some children are unwanted or raised by a parent or parents whose desire to have and care for the child is tempered by ambivalence, the kind of ambivalence that transfers through the care of the child right to the child’s sense of being valued. Some parents’ inability to support each other and/or resolve conflict peacefully results in children being raised in war zones. Some children are the battlegrounds for parental disputes. Some children are used solely for the inappropriate gratification of the parent and yet other children are left unprotected from exploitation by others or with inadequate supervision or guidance to keep them safe or lead them wisely.” (page 102) 

“To the person who is self-righteous, meeting one’s own needs is an end unto itself. There is a sense of entitlement. Not having had the need to be valued met, the self-righteous do not consider others to be of value in their own right. In the absence of having their need to be valued appropriately met, coupled with learning that one can pursue one’s own needs at the expense of others, the self-righteous appear to have little or no conscience – little or no concern about the impact of their behavior on the well-being of another. The self-righteous have their own mantra: I deserve to have my needs met as I see fit and I have learned to do so with little to no concern for your welfare. I can manipulate the world and those in it to serve myself.

As the self-righteous set out to meet their needs, they may be unsophisticated and obvious in their approaches or you may not see them coming, yet be devastated by the outcome” (page 104)

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW –

Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships 

Those quotes are taking from my book, Marriage Rescue. They speak to the kinds of issues social workers work with when providing clinical-legal services. Folks of this nature are often seen in the context of mediation, custody and access assessments and Parenting Coordination (mediation/arbitration).

Given the extreme nature of the parental issues, their impact on the well-being and care of children between them can be quite extraordinary. Issues are heightened when these very parents are at war over the care, control and custody of their children. Further, it is at times difficult, if not impossible to please both sides. Yet, into these fractured relationships with fractured people social workers wade.

Our job is not for the faint of heart. We must be able to withstand our clients’ intensity and consternation, even when directed at ourselves for doing our jobs, holding them accountable in matters where the outcome is contrary to their self-interested views. We too must withstand the abuse and badmouthing of our clients who would seek to undo our intervention, intervention aimed at protecting their children from the very harm to which the parents were likely exposed to as children.

Good social workers do not get scared off or intimidated from representing the needs of children even when such contradicts the view and interests of their parents. Good social workers wind up placing themselves in harm’s way to the protection of children.

Social workers will be badmouthed by angry self-interested parents who have limited to no insight into their issues. Social work is a challenging profession.

The rewards of social work are commensurate with the challenges. Social workers see children flourish over time, the result of their interventions. Social workers get to see children develop and grow. Social workers get to see children protected from the harm of others and/or help others to improve matters such that the children may develop well.

In the media, social workers are at risk of bad press. Bad news is the only news. Those who practice in the profession know better though. We see our successes. We see people change, the result of our interventions and we see children grow.

Social work is remarkably rewarding and as social workers, we must toot our own horn, lest others be influenced by undue reports or those from whom we have acted to protect others.

If you are a social worker or if you know a social worker and want to toot your horn in support, then “like” and “share” this posting and let others know how valuable the role is.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.


Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

(905) 628-4847

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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One Comment
  1. Gina Jordan Kishur permalink

    Gary, I just have three words: Very well said.
    I am Gina Jordan Kishur, and I am a counselor. Same song. Same dance.

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