I have a dear, dear friend from graduate school  I remain very close to.  (That sounds more committed than it is - I've only been out of grad school for 9 months).  We chat, he tells me about social services in Portland, I try not to get too homesick.

One of the things I love most about this friend is we both have a commitment to non-violent, respectful discourse.  There is so much room to disagree and to think out loud ... because, in part, we are absolutely certain of the other person's heart and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt there is absolutely no attack on the other person in our differences of opinions.

This is our current discussion:

I'm exhausted.  Whiney, I  know.  I'm supposed to work about 40 hours in my 4 day week, but lately it's been at least 50.   Part of that is due to the switch over to kid therapy and taking on a new caseload (and a set of not so greatly kept files).  Part of that is due to the fact  that our community has no resources.

What does that mean, no resources?

When I lived in Portland and worked at the kid therapy clinic in NE Portland, we had resources.  We had hospitals we could hospitalize kids to.  We had 2 psychs in office to do med management.  We had an Intensive Home Based Services team that was able to spend several hours a week with one family - helping them with case management and doing in home family therapy.  We could refer parents to detox.  We could refer families to homeless shelters.  Sometimes it was tough getting families into services due to wait lists ... but they were there.  There was hope.

We all know I'm not in Kansas anymore.

The nearest psych hospitals are at least 2 hours away and detainments can take up to 6 hours apiece.  We have had an ad out for a psychiatrist for several months and there has been very little interest.  Additionally, the interest that has been shown has only been for adult team ... getting local psychs to work with children is next to impossible.  No IBHS team here.  That's my caseload.  And I'm full.  As in, I have back to back 50 minute sessions scheduled all day long.  That's tough to balance when the parents have more needs than my kids, because I see the desperate need for wrap around services ... and I can't offer that to them ... which kills me.  There are no detox centers in my community.  Nearest one:  2 hours away.  There are no homeless shelters in my community.  Nearest one:  2 hours away.

My dear grad school friend said, "Well, that's how it is here (in Portland).  Things are tough all over."

I have absolute empathy that it's tough.  It's tough for all of us.  We're doing what we can with what we have, and it's never enough.  I so understand that.  But I don't think it's the same. For me, having worked in both communities, I can safely say that rural social work is tricky tricky.   At least for me.  We had a couple of case managers attend a SOAR training in Vancouver (WA - right next to Portland) recently, and they came back with their eyes wide open.  They liked the training, but didn't feel it was necessarily useful for them.  Why?   "Because there are so many services over there.  I mean, like, so many.  We don't have any of that over here."

People are people.  Social work is tough no matter what.  I go out on a 181 to a house in rural Eastern WA and the cops are pulling firearm after firearm out of the house because people own multiple firearms out here.  I go on a home visit and have to walk past people doing drug deals on the street.  Some of the same safety concerns exist.  Not all of them, and I get that.   And I appreciate people who are doing the work in urban communities.

On the other hand, though?  This is what I got to do this week:

*  feed baby goats to establish client rapport with a new client
*  hold baby rabbits, same purpose
*  go on a walk in the beautiful valley by the river
*  continue to establish close relationships with community colleagues (always a good idea to hold the only service providers in town close to you)
*  see the fields start to turn a lovely shade of spring green on my drive in

It's just different. 
I don't know how long we'll be out here.
I do know that it's greatly expanding my skill set.
I also know I sometimes that expanding my skill set is exhausting me.
Blessed be.  It's different for all of us.

1 Comment

  1. Andrea on March 9, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    Happy to hear you are getting a few sweet moments in between all the exhaustion (though that entirely depends on how well behaved the baby goats were...). ;) Having limited-to-no resources is tough, especially in helping professions, and especially in your helping profession. May those spring green fields and country-life experiences be a welcome refreshment!

     


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