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Daren Ford (M.S.W. '08)
Daren Ford (M.S.W. '08)

Daren Ford spent his advanced year field placement with Volunteers of America (VOA) men's residential drug and alcohol treatment facility. In his work with VOA, Daren learned a great deal about himself and what it truly means to balance the academics of social work with the challenges that present themselves in real life; or the stuff that just can't be taught in a classroom.

"The School has taught me to be a very strong advocate of strength based practice, but what it hasn't taught me is the real world - the punitive consequences which men can get into for the personal choices they've made in their lives. Working with the men at VOA has really taught me to struggle and differentiate between the punitive choices and the strengths and bring them together."

Daren's work with VOA has helped him to build on his own strengths while helping others recognize theirs. Creating a safe environment where clients feel comfortable letting their guards down has prompted Daren to embrace his own struggles to succeed as a student. "This field placement has really taught me that you make growth when you say 'I don't understand, I need help', that's when you can start learning."

Daren attributes part of this growth to the nurturing supervision he receives from his field instructor who "very much takes a social work approach towards the students. This can be a very distressful setting to work in - my supervisor has done a great job at creating an environment where we feel safe to talk about what we are dealing with."

Daren's future as a social worker is still unwritten but he is excited about what lies ahead after graduating from the M.S.W program. "Part of me wants to continue on and get my Doctorate, part of me wants to continue doing the work I am doing with men. I like that I don't know what the future holds but that I have all these amazing options that I have never had in my life before."