D A N A   L E E M A N

Dana Leeman   107 Guitar

When I was an undergraduate psychology major, I was continually struck by the complexity of my professor’s research and their obvious intellectual gifts, but also by their interpersonal skills. I often found them to be lacking in warmth and openness, and I couldn’t see myself asking any of them for help if I was in emotional pain, let alone share anything deeply personal with them. This caused a bit of a crisis for me as I contemplated my future. And then I took a course on Family Systems Therapy taught by a social worker. She was warm, engaging and came directly to class after seeing clients, so her stories were real and in the moment. Most importantly, she was the first instructor to talk about the impact of racism, oppression and poverty on clients, to emphasize that this was as much our concern as social workers as their internal experience. A deep chord was struck …


 I chose Guitar because …

 … it is a metaphor for social work practice. There are multiple ways to play a G chord, for example. It depends on the string or how high or low you form the chord on the guitar. Two G chords can sound quite different depending on how you accent your strumming or set up an amplifier, or play acoustically. Some G chords are clean and clear while others can have lots of distortion. Both are G chords, but can sound markedly different. No two G chords have to have the same tone or voice.

The same is true of social work. Depending on the context, our approach, resources and training, we help clients not only find their own voices, but create new melodies out of life narratives. This is hard work that requires intentionality, continued study, and many hours of practice!


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