What makes social workers successful? What do we strive for? How do we find contentment in our profession? After almost 10 years as an active duty social worker in the Air Force, my search for the answers to these questions is still a work in progress. What remains meaningful to me are the core things that brought me to the profession--my passion for helping, my desire to advocate for social justice issues and for those in need to receive appropriate support and services.  Some days I am more successful than other days and I must admit making time to observe my thoughts does not always come naturally.  

For almost all of us, these past several months as the pandemic evolved has forced us to reflect on our lives, our goals, and our profession. We were forced to adapt and change. It became necessary to pause and think about what was happening around us. Self-reflection has always been a core component of my practice.  It is an essential skill for our profession. It requires discipline and being intentional. Without it, we may make decisions not thinking about the consequences.  

Today, I reflect on my new assignment in Guam. I still assist people in need and work to advocate for their human rights.  I care about the population I serve. I hold true to our professional ethics and I strive to be deliberate in my intentions to serve my clients with dignity and respect. I still value connecting with my clients. It is a unique assignment, culture and environment far away from the United States.  There are also similar challenges, frustrations, and struggles that we can relate to.  Even after 1o years as an Air Force officer serving as a social worker, there is still the feeling that I'm learning from my day-to-day work.  

So, as this year ends and the pandemic continues, I challenge all of you to reflect on what brought you to the profession.  Begin your day practicing self-reflection. Make it deliberate and intentional.  Take time to think about, meditate on, and give thought to your behaviors, attitudes, desires, and motivations, you and your clients will greatly benefit.  

Charu Stokes-Williams, Ph.D., LICSW, BCD
Mental Health Flight Commander
Anderson Air Force Base, Guam
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