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August 2016Vol. 17, No. 6From School to Practice: Making a Good Social Worker

The majority of the students entering master of social work (M.S.W.) programs want to pursue a career in direct practice as clinical social workers. For the most part, M.S.W. programs are advanced generalist programs; students are expected to be able to understand and work with various clients at different levels. Managing the shift from school to practice and developing a clinical social work identity is often challenging for the newly graduated student who would like to develop a new set of competencies and skills. To address some key elements of a successful transition into a social work career, the host of the Social Work Podcast, Jonathan Singer, interviewed Dr. Danna Bodenheimer, author of Real World Clinical Social Work: Find Your Voice and Find Your Way.

During her interview, Dr. Bodenheimer explains how stressors like taking a licensing exam, finding a job, and paying student loans may interfere with newly graduated social workers' ability to focus on doing good work. As a university professor, the author is also able to share how some students may vacillate between feelings of overconfidence and insecurity and find it difficult to integrate both parts. Dr. Bodenheimer points out that new workers may not make the best use of supervision, a most valuable tool for professional growth, due to a fear of not wanting to appear incompetent or unprofessional. She reflects on the core of the clinical social work relationship, which in her opinion should be supported by a guiding principle or a belief system about what creates wellness to shape proper interventions. 

Other key areas discussed include concepts of transference, counter-transference, real relationship, and the importance of creating an observing ego. Finally, Dr. Bodenheimer stated that financial hardship can interfere with the ability of a clinician to think critically and that securing an adequate salary is essential to providing the best possible care. 

Listen to the interview, "Becoming a Clinical Social Worker: Interview With Dr. Danna Bodenheimer" at