To Thine Own Self Be True

Ashton PicBy Ashton

Student Ambassador Ashton Paetzold: Learning the importance of self-reflection through field experiences

As a young graduate student, I have struggled with trying to balance professionalism while not letting go of my personality and my true self.  Through my studies, I have found that relationships are essential to the success of any therapeutic session.  R.A. Mackey emphasized the importance of the therapeutic relationship stating, ‘‘For clinical social workers, the professional relationship is not just the vehicle of intervention to change behavior(s) but an empathic resource for acceptance, support, validation and understanding of clients, which may be among the most important factors in making therapy therapeutic.’’  The ability to build rapport and practice interrelationship skills as a graduate student is crucial to one’s future career in social work. Fortunately for me, my supervisors in both of my field settings have encouraged me as I explored the use of self within these settings.  We as social workers are our best tools when it comes to therapy.  We are creative, we are unique, we have our own life situations to build upon, and we are human.  All of these characteristics that we bring into therapy allow the client to connect to us in a therapeutic way.

Relationships, no matter if they are therapeutic, professional, or personal, all have a basis of trust.  It is easier to build trust with someone if they are genuine.  In order to be genuine, what I have learned is that therapists must practice what they preach.  Before we can expect our clients to engage in building community, letting go of past regrets, embracing change, and rolling with the punches, we must first do our own work in these same areas.  It has been through my field experiences that I have come to realize the importance of this in bringing about sustainable change in the lives of those we serve.  I must do my own work to be effective with others.

To quote William Shakespeare, “This above all, to thine own self be true.”


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