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A Social Worker Lays Her Feelings Bare

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Karen Triano Golin, in Lancaster Online, recently profiled licensed social worker Katie Burns. Burns works with in-patients and families, helping them identify medical issues and mental healthcare problems through a “bio-psycho-social assessment.” This assessment “considers the person in more of a holistic format by identifying barriers to their success.” These barriers might be spiritual, interpersonal, mental health related, physical health related, or even associated with family dynamics.

Burns, writes, Golin, works closely with patients “to make an appropriate discharge plan” and to conduct “family meetings to discuss what discharge looks like and answer any questions about treatment and mental health. Burns emphasizes that there is still a lot of stigma associated with mental health and substance abuse so education is a large piece of her job even within families as it’s important to people to be understood and heard. Her work also encompasses outside agencies, making appointments with a variety of providers to ensure that after patients leave the hospital they continue on a healthy and successful path.”

The piece is an interesting look into the mind and attitudes of a dedicated social worker. Burns is the type of person who is both a credit to the social work profession and an example for others to follow. She stresses the importance of making connections with people, and of helping her patients to make connections with others.

“Burns says you gain a lot of insight into yourself personally and working on yourself first is key before you can be successful helping others,” Golin writes. “She credits her program at Kutztown as very strong as well as the professors who drove that point home.”

The piece also stresses the fact that a stigma is still associated with mental health issues, and emphasizes the need to fight that stigma. In other blog posts we’ve discussed the fact that stigma can be double edged. It prevents people from seeking the care they need, but at the same time, efforts to diminish that stigma could conceivably eliminate responsibility for individual actions that lead to problems in the first place. All of these are issues that Burns seems to tackle with aplomb. Her profile makes for interesting reading.

Does Katie Burns’ story inspire you? Does it remind you of why you entered social work in the first place? Do you share her conviction that connections among people are what truly help? Or is your focus elsewhere? We welcome your thoughts, input, and experience. Please share your comments with us now.

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