There is a Chinese proverb that reads “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” This sentiment speaks well to the need for all of us to pursue new knowledge in life in order to grow as human beings. I am honored to be writing my first regular column for The Citizen. Some of you may have read my previous articles, on the topics of seasonal affect disorder and yearly resolutions. I would like to welcome you to a column that I hope brings you information and inspiration in many life areas. My goal is to write about things that I sense are important to Platte County individuals, families and communities. Welcome to “Be Well.” “Be Well” will be a place where I will share my knowledge and wisdom acquired over many years of practicing in the field of social work. As a social worker, I have had many experiences over the past 17 years, some good, some not very good, that could surely fill many columns. However, my goal is not necessarily to share these experiences with you, but instead share my perspectives on the importance of wellness and ways to live your best life. I also hope to include information on mental health, which is certainly a hot topic these days in regards to violence, health care and understanding human behavior. I believe that readers are best drawn to people that they can relate to, or at the very least that they believe have some credibility. I hope to achieve both of these through my column. My first passion is social work, which is a great starting point to provide readers with knowledge of that profession. Believe it or not, there are many misconceptions about social workers. As a licensed clinical social worker, I am equivalent to a licensed psychologist or licensed mental health counselor. As a licensed social worker, I am able to provide therapy and mental health treatment to those struggling with a variety of challenges — parenting, mental illness and family relationships. Social workers are in schools, the court systems, mental health centers, hospitals and even corporations. I have enjoyed working with individuals and families for my entire professional career. Social workers believe that all persons have inherent strengths and abilities that can be fostered. We also balance this belief with the professional value that everyone is entitled to self-determination, that is, that we allow individuals to make their own life choices and we encourage personal responsibility with these life choices. “But don’t social workers take people’s kids away?” Actually, no…those are state children’s service workers. They used to be called social workers, but that would be like me calling myself an accountant. In order to call yourself a social worker, you must have a degree in social work. One of my greatest passions as a social worker is teaching. As a professor with The University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, I value the need to educate my students on how best to honor the profession of social work through continuous self-exploration, growth and challenge. As a columnist, I also hope to educate and inspire each of you to live your best life by providing you with knowledge, tools and resources to accomplish this. I welcome topic suggestions from Citizen readers. There are no shortages of local and national newspaper columns on financial planning, health care, cooking and politics. I would like to think that information on personal wellness and mental health is just as relevant to the lives of the Citizen community. So, please join me as we begin a journey of movement towards growth. How will you live your best life today?
Diane Bigler is a licensed clinical social worker who lives in Platte City with her family. She may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.