In this reflection, I will be discussing my own personal beliefs concerning my chosen topic of homelessness. From my perspective, I will critically reflect on what has influenced my beliefs throughout my experience as well as, what could be challenging and what I could use as opportunities through being a social worker.
From my perspective, I’ve encountered several different beliefs on what homelessness is during my existence. I recall from a young age being consciously aware that homeless individuals were different than my family, friends, or myself but didn’t understand why I felt confused, as I knew they were human just like myself. During adolescence and under the influence of other individuals’ opinions, I briefly held the belief that generally homeless persons were dependent on substances and lazy. My beliefs were shaped this way because of a personal experience of a homeless individual that I encountered frequently while walking home from work. My beliefs were made this way through the numerous times I witnessed him rummaging through public bins looking for cigarettes. However, this belief just solidified as I observed him more often and the community would regularly give him money. With his change, he would disappear, then a few minutes later arrive back shortly with a bottle of alcohol and a pack of cigarettes. Once again, just as my younger inner child thought, I was confused as to why he’d buy alcohol instead of a meal. I am now also consciously aware that individuals can become homeless for an array of reasons and how addicts usually can’t stop what they’re addicted to without help, support, and a safe environment. While going through, this I noticed several other personal beliefs that affected my perspective on homelessness. These include I regularly made assumptions that all homeless individuals were addicted to something, that the location I saw this happen had high numbers of homeless persons and I was ultimately afraid to approach them, which I then used my assumptions as an excuse to ignore homelessness.
It was not until recently that my views had dramatically altered. I watched a documentary called “Drugs Inc.” on Netflix, which primarily focused on the everyday lives of homeless people.
It exposed that substance addictions were common in homelessness, but also there was an array of other issues that affected the individuals. It releveled how the impacts of addiction can affect an individual physically and psychologically, which can result in finical issues, mental health issues, and losing relationships. I now have a more depth understanding as I believe that homelessness and substance abuse are frequently seen together and contribute to one or the other, but also how many other issues contribute, like mental health. I have also realized that this can happen because of the difficult environment/conditions, while being isolated without any support, especially from their families.
Furthermore, through exploring my own personal beliefs I’ve realized how much it can influence my work as a social worker in the future, especially regarding my chosen group of homelessness. Personal beliefs, values, attitudes, and behavior will all contribute to how I will approach potential challenges in the future. Possible challenges can include how to appropriately approach homeless individuals and effectively communicate, not making assumptions, especially regarding substance abuse as my beliefs can unconsciously link them together and use critical thinking methods to recognize how each individual will vary and will need different strategies. However, there are also lots of opportunities to learn from working with homeless individuals. These include exposing myself to new environments that may be uncomfortable, the opportunity to learn from other social workers who have previously been exposed to homelessness, and actively listening to the individuals’ perspective, which could help assist me in someone else’s case if similar. As a social worker, it would be important for me to be actively engaged while skillfully being able to critically reflect and think, apply evidence-based approaches, use interpersonal communication skills, be consciously aware of ethical, political, and cultural aspects, and comfortably change strategies when necessary to build trusting relationships to assist my clients successfully. In conclusion, through exploring and reflecting on my own personal beliefs on homelessness, I have now realized how being consciously self-aware, using challenges and opportunities, can influence or affect how I interact and view homelessness as a social worker in the future.