The secret to balancing empathy and objectivity as a social worker

In this blog, we discuss the secret to balancing empathy and objectivity as a social worker…

Prioritise your needs

In order to avoid burnout it is important to consider how much work is reasonable (not that you have much choice as a social worker, but you know what we’re getting at!). This also means getting to understand yourself and what helps you switch off after a testing day. Similarly, think about what drains you outside of work; because the last thing you need as a busy social worker is additional stress. Check-in with yourself regularly and make sure you’re happy with the boundaries you have set with others; whether that be in your professional life or your personal life.

You don’t have to say yes to everything

If you’ve chosen social care as your profession, it’s likely you’re a naturally empathetic individual. This means when someone asks you for a favour, you probably blurt out an enthusiastic ‘sure!’ because you always want to be of help. However, this can end up being a slippery slope and usually one that ends with burnout. So, next time a colleague, client or even a friend needs a hand, make sure you think it through before agreeing.

While this may feel uncomfortable the first few times, you will get used to setting the boundary. Remember, it’s OK to reserve your time and energy. The way you deliver this ‘no’ doesn’t have to be blunt either, it can still be delivered in an empathetic manner. For example, if a colleague asks you to help with a case when you’re already overwhelmed with your own caseload you might say something like: “I’d really like to help you out, but I’ve already got a lot on plate and don’t want to compromise the care of my clients as a result.”

Use “I” statements

Frame your communication using “I” statements to express your feelings and needs without placing blame. This can help others understand your perspective without feeling attacked.

Be consistent

Consistency is key in maintaining healthy boundaries. If you waiver in enforcing your boundaries, others may not take them seriously. Consistency also helps build trust in your relationships.

Empathise without absorbing

Understand and acknowledge others’ feelings without taking on their emotions as your own. This is crucial for maintaining emotional boundaries and preventing burnout – especially as a social worker who deals with complex cases and difficult situations on the regular.

Remember, finding the balance between empathy and setting boundaries is an ongoing process. It requires self-reflection, effective communication, and a willingness to adapt as circumstances change.

carlette Isaac

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *