Personal Identity In Social Work

1353 Words6 Pages
Personal Identity and Managing Personal Values Who I identify as, the groups that I belong to, and the values I have will knowingly and unknowingly attach a level of privilege and power that can and will impact my professional identity and the work I do as a professional. The purpose of this paper is to examine how my identity could impact my work as a social worker, how my personal values conflict with my professional values, and to recall a time when I reduced the participation in oppression. The groups of which I belong can impact my ability to help individuals and communities in a number of ways. I identify as a mixed race, both Mexican and Caucasian, straight female. These four identities are groups that I feel I have a belonging to on…show more content…
Who I identify as, including identifying as a social worker once I graduate, will have some level privilege and power attached to the chosen identities. Gelfand, Sillivan, and Steinhouse (2002) noted that there are may dimensions that influence our personal and professional relationships with others, and these dimensions shape how we see and interact with, include or exclude them, and ways that we oppress or discriminate against them. As a social worker whose clients share my same identity, we may benefit by my having a shared understanding of cultural norms and expectations to reach a common goal. For clients who share commonalities with me, we may benefit by being able to work more collaboratively and possibly a more trusting relationship than one that must be built over time. However, just as similarities can be empowering, I must remember that the client knows best despite our shared identities that may speak otherwise. In addition, challenges can arise when there is no commonality in identities or when identities between myself and a client are radically different. In these times, as a social worker who has a degree of power in a relationship with people seeking help, that I must acknowledge to myself that my power can impede on inclusively practicing and remain self-aware (Gelfand, Sullivan, & Steinhouse,…show more content…
Factors that contribute to privilege, power, and oppression include who has power, how is that power being used, and what social groups are being affected. This year I began working in Target’s return department where employees are supposed to, what feels like stereotyping, call out shady and weird-acting people who are most often appearing to be houseless or on drugs. Because of certain types of individuals that frequent our story in Janzen Beach, we do not return certain products without proof of purchase. However, one day we made an exception for on customer and did not for another by a manager. Later in the day I confronted the manager and expressed my frustrations that our personal biases were getting in the way of helping our customers equally and expressed that certain people or groups are less likely to express their frustrations or ask for a manager when they are denied a return in comparison to others. I expressed that our bias and labeling of a group of people put people at a disadvantage and that certain groups receive a level of privilege that others do not. I felt that our conversation went well, however, things went back to business as usual. Despite the store policies that seem to change person by person, I try to use self-awareness and regulation when I feel my bias
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