A Rant from a Writer and a Social Worker

While I am open about my double major in my writing classes and do include on my resume that I study both creative writing and psychology and ultimately become a LCSW (you’d be amazed how many social workers/counselors/therapists don’t know how to write their own damn case notes…), it’s not something I typically broadcast in the workplace. I’m sure every writer has gotten Are you going to write about this/me? question at some point; however, there seems to be an added layer of ignorance and flat out stupidity whenever someone asks, So, you plan to study sick people and then write about them?

…Where do I even begin explaining how offensive that question is to both me and my future clients?

Yes, imaginary person standing in for every person I would like to slap—you caught me. That’s the only reason I’m studying to be a therapist. It actually has nothing to do with wanting to help people or anything weird like that. I just want to take advantage of other people’s trauma and misfortune.

Yes, typically writers borrow from the experiences or traits of those around them, and if I am a therapist, I’m going to be around a lot of people with a lot of different experiences all day. So, yes, some aspects of the stories I hear may seep into pieces of mine (although, let’s not forget every confidentiality contract I ever signed with every treatment center/organization I’ve taken part in). But the question seems to carry a certain stereotype occasional seen in writers: That everything we do has the alterative motive of just looking for another story idea; that we care more about our work than those around us. Or, and this is probably the worst, we only involve ourselves with others to use them for our own benefit.

Unfortunately, there have been therapists and social workers looking to make some cash or find some fame by telling the stories of their clients (CoughCorneliaWilburCoughCough), who have made a mockery out of field of social work—and I don’t believe I’m exaggerating in claiming they make a mockery out of a field that’s still put down by other sciences. On top of it, the question implies a writer has no other goals or life outside of writing. Yes, writing is a passion, but so is working with trauma victims. It puts the writer in a box and forces the single title of writer when there are more aspects to a person.

But that’s all I have to say. Thanks for reading that little rant of mine.

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