How Corona deniers and anti-refugees challenge social workers Søndagsavis

Social workers often accompany their clients for a very long time. Sometimes for years. This is the case in substance abuse counseling, in criminal justice or in educational counseling. During the long counseling period, social workers come very close to their clients. You learn about the most intimate issues – and about opinions that are sometimes strange. Then social workers are encouraged to relate professionally to those who think differently.

Corona has exacerbated the situation

Social workers report that the situation has worsened again since Corona. “We have women who say the vaccination ‘is just shit’,” reports Bärbel Marbach-Kliem of the Catholic Women’s Social Services (SkF) in Augsburg, who advises criminal women in prison and after their release.

“Some women think vaccination makes them infertile.”

A prisoner recently rejected both a Covid 19 vaccination and a test before entering the counseling center: “Unfortunately, we lost this woman as a client.”

It does not help much to refer to experts

According to Marbach-Kliem, it does not help much to point out what experts say: “I only answer that I myself find the vaccination good and important.” But you have no “sense of mission”. The situation is different when women express fascist ideas. What keeps happening:

“It has happened that black women have been hit in our counseling center.”

It does not work at all. Then the SkF team steps in.

Empathy is a prerequisite for social work

Social work only works with empathy, says Stefan Wenger from Condrobs, an association in Munich that takes care of addicts and offers youth welfare. Of course, issues related to the corona pandemic are always touched upon, Wenger says: “But they are not the reason anyone wants to use our help.”

Therefore, “divergent” views on Corona are not usually elaborated:

“We do not see ourselves as opinion polls.”

The corona vaccination is considered an individual decision.

Tolerance has limits

Here again, hypotheses leading to exclusion are not tolerated: “Then we must take a stand.” Wenger thinks of young people who are angry at refugees. For example, it is claimed that refugees receive higher benefits from the state than locals.

Such beliefs are corrected by facts: “We clarify what the law looks like.” In order to avoid racist statements in the first instance, it is made clear to the client at the beginning of the collaboration that Condrobs explicitly stands for diversity and that diversity at Condrobs must be accepted.

There is nothing right or wrong

Peter Winkler of the Caritas Educational Counseling Center in Miltenberg, Lower Franconia, learned long ago to endure conflicting opinions. “One must accept that there is nothing ‘right’ and ‘wrong’,” he emphasizes.

When Winkler is confronted with a dissenting opinion, such as the belief – as has been said several times – that Microsoft founder Bill Gates seeks to enslave the whole world, he asks his client, “Why is this important to you?” The question is annoying. This is exactly what it aims to do:

“Irritation can break carved ways of thinking.”

The team is inflexible when it comes to setting “rules of the game”. If you want to be advised directly, put on a mask. A 17-year-old recently stood in front of the door who would not do it: “She gave us a mask exemption certificate.” The young woman was told that she would not be together if she did. “There are no discussions here.”

Which did not mean that she should go without doing something. The team offered her a telephone consultation or a video conference.

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