Thoughts on Termination in Social Work Practice

 

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Throughout my social work education, we have been encouraged to begin termination at the start of any social work relationship. As I am exiting my first job in my career as a social worker, I am struggling with the “termination” piece as I say goodbye to all of the uniquely wonderful people whom have crossed my path over the past few years. While termination is the word used in social work practice, essentially it is the goodbyes I am struggling with as I close this chapter in my life. While reflection has never been my strong-suit, it felt important to document this struggle so I could try to understand the importance of appropriately grieving the loss of client, community, and coworker relationships, and also, my identity as a social worker.

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Some of my team members at WRCLS.

Within my role at Waterloo Region Community Legal Services, I have had the opportunity to work on the micro level, with clients and families, the mezzo level, with small community organizations, and finally, I have had the chance to work on a macro level – implementing large community projects with large community organizations, and other systems within the governmental system I work within. As you can see, all of these wonderful relationships have meant for many goodbyes over the past few months. I have found myself sending my best wishes to each of them and telling them that I hope our paths cross in the future. And while I truly hope that this is the case, it may very well not be. I think it is the hope that I will get to pursue these relationships further in the future that makes each single termination more bearable.

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Goodbye decorations from the community center I do outreach at.

I have also recently let go of my title as a “Registered Social Worker” as I will be out of the country for over a year. I have been proud to carry this title for the past few years and I still have to correct myself when giving introductions in the community as this is an identity I no longer carry. I have to remind myself that even without the title, my values and principles are still in line with the social work profession and my experiences over the next year or so will greatly impact the social worker I will be when I return.

In further areas of termination, my Masters of Social Work is also coming to a close in a few months, it felt important to reflect and document this very important and timely chapter in my life. During my time abroad, I may lose sight of why I studied social work in the first place. I hope this post reminds me of the importance that my practice has had on my life and the significance that the community building I have participated in over the past few years has had on my sense of self and belonging.

Onward and upward…

 

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