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One of the best things about working in the field of social work is how broad and diverse the field is. For social workers, no matter what field setting one decides to work in, theoretical orientation is always practiced. According to Cade (2016), the importance of theoretical orientation is to inform the clinician’s attention on session goals and interventions. It is also designed as the clinician’s viewpoint for how to solve and/or treat a problem (Cade, 2016). For me, the theoretical orientation that I connect and use the most is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). American Psychological Association (2019) states that “CBT is a form of psychological treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorder, alcohol and drug use problems, martial problems, eating disorders and severe mental illness.” CBT focuses on treating the problem by changing the thinking pattern of the clients. CBT is used as a learning to process, learn coping skills that a client will be able to apply into their daily lives. Most clinicians use CBT because it is a theoretical orientation that has proven to be tried and true. When working with individuals’, clinicians use CBT because it is evidence-based, and individuals have found success. Clinicians meet the clients where they are at. The clinicians will work with the clients thought process and help them process their needs and help them change their interpretation of a behavior or situation to produce a resolution. According to National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (2019), one of the many benefits of using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that clinicians are working with individuals to get better instead of feeling better.
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Discourses establishes our understanding of what our client’s needs are and shapes our understanding of how to respond to their need, and discourses shape social work practice (Healy, 2014). Discourses may even cause clients to face challenges to getting their needs met because our thoughts and actions are shaped by the language practices of discourses; and social workers are able to challenge the ways that we view and respond to client’s needs. (Healy, 2014).Clients may even have personal discourses that have kept them from making positive changes in their lives. Some of these discourses may have come from themselves, their environment, family members, close friends, etc. and they can influence how clients respond to difficult situations. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is essential to assist clients successfully address their issues, by identifying the problem and building on their current resources and building on their strengths.
Before becoming a social worker, I would say some of the discourses and misconceptions that I had were that social workers only “took children from families” and that therapy was only an idea if you had reached a breaking point. Within in the African American community, therapy is looked down on. So often, we are told “you don’t need Jesus, you need prayer”. Mental health and therapy were such a taboo topic. Within the past few years we have started to hear the African- American community talk about mental health and therapy. Within the past few year, actress Tarija P Henson has created a mental health foundation, The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (Lane 2018). This past year actor, Michael B Jordan discussed publicly that he went to therapy after showing symptoms of depression after finishing a role in “Black Panther” (Lane 2019). With many more African American celebrities speaking up, it is making therapy not a “hush hush” topic. More African Americans are becoming receptive towards therapy and realizing that you can have both, Jesus and therapy.
The main features of CBT have not only influenced my leadership style and preferences, but it enhanced my leadership skills. Working in the field of substance abuse and mental health, I work with my clients about the specific problems, how we can treat the problem, and focus on their goals so they continue living a health life. We focus on their triggers and give them the skills that they need to manage/cope with their mental illness or staying sober. I believe this translates in my leadership style.
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As a leader, I am expected to work and help my clients find realistic goals and coping skills in stable times or in times of crisis. Transformational theory is the leadership theory that aligns with my leadership style. The main characteristics of Transformational theory are vision, appropriate degree of risk taking, energy and determination, provision for challenges and encouragement for teammates (Van Wart, 2013, p.558). Upon learning about CBT, the model was very attractive and fit my leadership style, and I was able to take some features of this theory to implement in my leadership style, which has allowed me to be goal oriented, identify strengths even in the midst of difficulty and empower other to achieve goals. Utilizing CBT has helped me to help my clients realize the strengths the possess, the self-love that they didn’t realize they had. Under this type of leadership style, my clients and future employees would feel encouraged to perform to the best of their ability and use their strengths to complete tasks.
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