"You don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking."
~ Maya Angelou

March 8, 2013

Between Us...

by Daniel Jacob, MSW: Founder of Can You Hear Me?

Lately I have been thinking about how to further reach my target population, helping professionals in need of support. The spectrum is wide open from the seasoned burnout to the uncertain grad level intern, from the successful practitioner to the accomplished probation officer. The idea here is to bring effective support, instruction, resources and opportunities to those who serve, through the lens and experience of a social worker that has the tools to empathize, provide and support. To paraphrase Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries "our services are not for those who need them, they are for those who want them." Of course my support model (and target population) is not that of Homeboy Industries, but look with an objective lens at the similarities that all populations in need of support demonstrate, and a community (support model) that is available to help them help themselves. Similarities that include factors such as blame, resistance, avoidance, pride, shame and vulnerability, all of which affect one's inability to help themselves. So, as you can see, I am defining a model that is in place for many populations who need help. However, the significant difference here is that the population that I am targeting is the one that is professionally trained and educated to help others, Can You Hear Me?

I recently came across an article Are You Missing a Piece of Your Happiness? written by Bobbi Emel, MFT, a helping professional who shares her own experience with depression and ways she has been able to help herself. I was so pleased to see this professional share and bring awareness, hopefully allowing others in the helping profession to recognize that it is OK to need, want and get help. In the article she begins with saying "It’s a bit embarrassing to admit since I am a therapist, you know." That right there tells you a very common theme of how many in the profession interpret their predicament. It is very difficult for the professional to trust the process or another helping professional, this is vulnerability in its truest form. However, the only one who suffers is the one who does not recognize when it is time for support, there is no positive outcome waiting here...

There are many influencing factors that have brought me to Can You Hear Me? One in particular comes to mind, something that I have gravitated towards for many years now, and will continue to.  Every job or professional role that I have had (pre social work and beyond) I have always made myself available to support my colleagues in distress. I took pride in recognizing when they were not themselves, stepping in to support them with a listening ear, keep your head up look, and validation that lets them know "I see you..."  I was never asked to take on this role, it's really just a part of my DNA born out of my own exposure and experience to suffering and challenge, while knowing what it feels like to be unheard with minimal to no support in sight.  It's a trait that is so primary in my practice as a social worker, one that has allowed me to see change at the individual and organizational level. Recognzing when the stress in those I cross paths with runs deeper than the stack of papers on the desk.  Unaware by most, easy enough to see by me.  I don't offer this information to convince or self-promote, only to showcase what resides within that is always in place, ready to give, only available when others are as well...

As always I welcome (and encourage) comments, feedback, and sharing. If you are just not there yet in this public forum, please feel free to email me and we can start our own dialogue, keeping it between us. I hope this post (and the intended meaning) finds you well, realizing that the life that is front of you, now matter how difficult it can be, it is the ultimate classroom as long as you can see it that way. Keep your head up and heart open!

About Author

Daniel Jacob, MSW Email 
Founder of Can You Hear Me? External Field Instructor at University of Southern California School of Social Work MSW@USC. Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work). He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing process.  
More about the man behind the mission ⇢


  1. Daniel,
    As always, I am inspired and moved by what you share with all. I was particularly interested in Missing a Piece of Your Happiness. Most recently I have been given an opportunity to help someone who is almost a mirror image of where I began to learn more about myself. I am motivated to help this person find the happiness I have been able to find through my journey. Of course, as a professional, I will need to be aware of this person's unique individualism and not allow transference to guide me. Rather, I hope to be able to take my lessons and apply them to help. Thank you for sharing what you have gained. Good luck on the competion of your LCSW. I am at that mark in my professional development myself and know the challenges (sometimes not so easy.
    Michelle D. Soodek, LMSW

  2. Hello Michelle! So nice to hear from you and thank you for sharing, while hearing the message! Sounds like you are immersed into some wonderful opportunities, allowing you to give and receive in the process. I can hear that awareness and mindfulness are present as you support/help this other professional. This is so primary and needed in order to effectively help others grow and develop. There will always be that need for a healthy balance, and your ability to separate and recognize where you are at (while modeling and teaching what you know can empower and support another) will support you well.

    As we know, often in our training/education we are taught that self-disclosure is not our friend, but I believe there are opportunities to use it in an effective, supportive and vicarious manner without it negatively impacting the process and our relationship with the individual we are supporting. With that being said I am sure you will be able to apply the lessons you have learned in order to help this individual help themselves. Good luck with all of your current and future opportunities, as always nice to hear from you!

    Daniel Jacob, MSW (Founder of Can You Hear Me?)