Friday, March 30, 2007

Social workers are nicer than psychologists

I've been getting tons of positive reinforcement from the faculty at my current school, and it's in such diametric opposition to the feedback I got at The Bad Place.

Yesterday morning I met with my academic adviser to go over my schedule for second year. I had already registered for summer classes and was deciding which electives I wanted -- there were two group therapy classes, and I couldn't for the life of me tell the difference between them. They had different titles, but the descriptions didn't seem all that dissimilar.

I had made a careful list of all the required courses, as well as the electives I was interested in. I wanted to be sure that I'd fulfill all my requirements and take the electives I was most interested in. I'd already met with another professor, who teaches a course that's limited to ten students from another field of study within social work, to see what my chances were of being able to take or audit that class. And I was considering taking a graduate psychology course from the university's affiliated psych department.

I told her about all this, and my adviser, to put it bluntly, was blown away by my fastidious and thorough preparations and my initiative in seeking out and meeting with the other professor. She was impressed with my master's from another program. She told me I was way ahead of the rest of my class in planning my future studies and my initial professional goals.

Then I had Foundations of Social Work Practice, and every time I made a contribution to the discussion -- EVERY TIME -- Professor Fun said, "That's a good example.... Great example.... That's an EXCELLENT example.... That's a really good example."

I don't think she said that about what every student contributed. At times I worried that I was contributing too much, or saying things that weren't exactly relevant, but she applauded everything I said.

Their respect and admiration were in such contrast to the contempt that met me at The Bad Place. Those professors thought I was inappropriate, out of control, angry. They disparaged what I said in class. They said other students resented when I spoke up in class.

I'm starting to understand why my professors are so proud to be social workers. And I'm having an easier and easier time coming to terms with becoming a social worker rather than a psychologist. The social worker who was my individual therapist/case manager after my suicide attempt was a wonderful therapist -- great listener, amazing insights, terrific support. I'm still sad that I won't be Dr. Survivor, at least not yet, but the positive reinforcement I'm getting from all of my professors is so precious to me.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. AND, the positive reinforcement helps you feel more secure and confident in sharing your insights and comments. Which in turn brings more positive reinforcement. It's amazing - and too often overlooked - how one nice word or compliment can mean the difference between a great, affirming experience and a destructive, soul-crushing one.

    With love and best wishes for a great Pesach - I remain yours truly.

  2. So good to hear this!

  3. That sounds wonderful! I'm so happy for you that you're getting so much positive feedback--I'm sure it's well-deserved!