top of page
  • IHS Staff

Empowering Social Workers - Learn About One of Our Own

Each March, we honor social workers during National Social Work Month, and this year’s theme is Empowering Social Workers. The term “empower” is defined as “giving the authority or power to do something” or “to make stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights”. I like some of the synonyms associated as well: authorize, commission, entitle, qualify, give someone permission, enable, equip, unfetter, unshackle, and enfranchise. For those of us in the helping professions, we aspire to be both empowered and to empower others. So, who has/is empowering you, and who are you currently empowering?

As I recently reflected on my own journey of empowerment, I recognized that decades ago, I was not the person that I am today. I presume that is true of almost everyone…that we are growing, learning, evolving, and in the right environment with some personal hard work, we are empowered to become our best selves. For me, that took people around me seeing something in me that my adverse experiences were preventing me from seeing or believing at first. We all can benefit from people around us to help call out our natural gifts and encourage us to grow in them. Their comments get imprinted on our minds and that is why 42 years after I painted a watercolor still life in 4th grade, I still remember the comments my teacher made to me and my parents about my creative skills at that young age.

In addition, I similarly recall a pastor from my faith community specifically identifying leadership skills in me, which was difficult to fathom at the time. Others noticed my skills as an operational planner and gave me regular opportunities to build my competency. Over the years I have continued to hone these skills under supervision, have tried out new ones, and have worked diligently to overcome any obstacles or barriers in the way. These skills and talents are now an engrained part of who I am at work and/or in my community, and I acknowledge their presence and importance in my life—both personally and professionally. Taking time to reflect on empowerment is an important task, so, during the month of March, I want to encourage you to be reflective on a few questions.


1) Who is empowering you, and in what skills? Thank them!

2) Who are you empowering, and in what ways? Keep at it!

3) What are you doing to take care of yourself to prevent burnout in your role so that you can continue to empower others? You are important!

4) Are you getting the level of empowerment you need currently? If not, what are the barriers and who can you ask for support and guidance to work toward being fully empowered?


Social workers, you are a vital part of our society, called to the most vulnerable populations. You are seen. You are valued. You are needed. You are empowered to change an individual, a family, a school, a hospital, a corrections facility, a nursing home, a mental health center, and any other environment you find yourself in. Social workers at the Institute for Human Services are grateful for you. Continue on your journey of empowerment toward becoming your best self, and don’t forget to invest in, and empower, those around you along the way!

Happy Social Work Month!


Mike Nowlin, MSSA, LISW-S

Director of Operations

Institute for Human Services &

Child Maltreatment Policy Resource Center

Find out more about Mike:



22 views0 comments


bottom of page