I like power! I am taken back to the end of my freshman year of college. I returned home for summer, and I was offered a summer job at the coal mine where my dad worked. He was a heavy equipment operator, and I landed a job in the laboratory as well as the marketing department. The first half of the days I’d collect and test coal samples from around the strip mining operation to make sure it was usable for our power plant. The afternoons were spent being the mine’s paparazzi, taking pictures for their upcoming marketing slideshow. I was asked to drive around the entire operation, taking pictures of various things, from the ginormous dump trucks and other heavy equipment, to the various grasses that had been planted in the wonderfully reclaimed areas that had previously been mined. One day I was asked to take pictures from atop one of our “Draglines,” an incredibly tall excavating machine. I remember climbing the ladder up the neck of this machine, camera at the ready. The view was breathtaking! The main thing they wanted me to capture from atop the Dragline, though, was the detonation of the explosives in a nearby part of the operation. I recall hearing the countdown on my walkie-talkie, and bracing myself for the blast. I don’t recall how well the pictures came out, but what I saw with my own eyes was amazing! I could feel the rumble reverberate throughout my chest! This whole football-field sized area was reduced to rubble, now accessible to the heavy equipment that could carefully carve out the veins of western Colorado coal. That day I saw -AND FELT- power.
In my social work practice, I ENCOURAGE, I EQUIP, and then I move on to EMPOWERING. Power, in any setting, has the ability to change things. Dynamite is applied to areas of the mine, then are detonated. Tools that I have equipped students and clients with are then APPLIED to specific areas of the person’s life. I help them find opportunities for healing and growth. I have seen in my own life the life-changing nature of EMPOWERMENT. In battling my depression, my friends and therapist have helped me apply my tools to get me through each day. In handling grief and the threat of alcoholism, I learned how to apply coping strategies and self-care. I have been EMPOWERED.
There is no use in having tools in your shed that you have no intention of ever using. It’s important to know which tools are meant for which jobs. In mental health, this is the work of helping the client understand what’s at the core of the problem they are facing. I then help them to problem solve and learn which strategy or tool is best used in giving them victory.
I give them strength for their journey. These amazing people discover their lives changed because of the power they have been given.