Self Care, the Black Social Worker, and the Police.
I have not been in direct practice for over a year now and I often wonder how I would navigate the topic of police violence with my clients, who were often young Black men. As a social worker, I learned to be in the moment, keep a blank slate, and everything I did had to be for my client’s benefit. If I were in direct practice, my clients would be on social media; they would be tuned in to every news outlet, angry, sad, scared, numb, essentially traumatized — they would be experiencing a complex form of trauma. My question through all of this is, how do I remain present for my clients when I am obviously experiencing those symptoms as well? No not vicarious traumatization, I’m just traumatized! What does self-care look like for me, when I get a startle response seeing a police car drive passed me? Or when I walk passed a police officer on the subway and flash an awkward smile so I am not perceived as a threat. How would I be able to continuously experience complex trauma and still be present for my clients? What I do know is I do not need to explore “twinship” (self-psychology) and align myself with my client. I am already there. What does self-care look like for a Black male social worker?