Whether you are a student or a professional working in the
field, self-care matters!
As a student going through an MSW (or other clinical)
program, you are expected to balance your coursework, internships,
work responsibilities, and home life. As a professional, you
face many of these same expectations and challenges. Self-care is a
practice that will help you limit the stresses and
strains that you are bound to encounter in your academic and
professional career and cope with those that do arise.
Self-care is an essential social work survival skill.
Self-care refers to activities and practices that we can
engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain and
enhance our short- and longer-term health and well-being.
Self-care is necessary for your effectiveness and success in
honoring your professional and personal commitments.
Practicing self-care will help you:
- Identify and manage the general challenges that all
hard-working professionals face, such as the potential for stress
and burnout or interpersonal difficulties.
- Be aware of your own personal vulnerabilities, such as
the potential for retraumatization (if you have a trauma history),
vicarious or secondary traumatization (if you work with individuals
who report their own traumatic experiences), and compassion fatigue
(which you can develop from a combination of burnout and vicarious
- Achieve more balance in your life, by maintaining
and enhancing the attention you pay to the different domains
of your life in a way that makes sense to you.
Self-care is not simply about limiting or addressing
professional stressors. It is also about enhancing your overall
well-being. There are common aims to almost all self-care
- Taking care of physical and psychological health
- Managing and reducing stress
- Honoring emotional and spiritual needs
- Fostering and sustaining relationships
- Achieving an equilibrium across one's personal, school,
and work lives
Each of us may differ in the domains we emphasize and the
balance we seek among them.
This self-care program has been developed to offer a range of
Once you have developed your self-care plan,
we hope you will explore the many other resources on
Although it may seem (at this point anyway) that your gaze is
locked on the future and your goal is to get through the program
and acquire that degree, the truth is that getting through graduate
school is a journey not simply a destination. The nature of this
journey (which is your life, after all) matters. It matters both in
and of itself and also because it is important to your success in
reaching your goals. Developing a self-care plan now will
help you both during your time in graduate school and in your
Mindful and consistent self-care is central to preventing or
reducing stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue and also –
importantly – to maintaining and enhancing your well-being
now and in the future.
Although all the materials we have included were either prepared
by us, contributed by colleagues, or accessible online, we have
nonetheless endeavored to correctly attribute and obtain
permissions (where appropriate) for the materials we have included.
If you find materials with mistaken or missing attributions (for
which you know the source), or links that no longer work,
please let us know.
Additionally, if you find new materials that you think would be
helpful to fellow students or colleagues, or have other suggestions
for how we can make this site more useful to you, please let