5 Inspiring TED Talks for Social WorkersFor those looking to gain some new perspective on a certain topic, learn about innovative practices in a variety of fields, or hear fresh ideas on pressing social issues, TED Talks are a great place to start! With TED speakers from a variety of disciplines, TED offers a diverse array of voices and viewpoints on nearly every subject under the sun. It seems fitting that TED describes itself as a “clearinghouse of freeknowledge” and a “a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world.

TED offers thousands of free, short videos from passionate speakers around the world, offering thought-provoking and awe-inspiring ideas and perspectives. The interdisciplinary field of social work has much to gain from talks in the areas of psychology, human rights, activism, body language, criminal justice, social change, and many more. Because the sheer wealth of information and number of attention-grabbing talks might be a bit overwhelming for a social  busy worker, here is a list of 5 TED talks related to the complex and compassionate roles that social workers occupy:

  1. Susan David – The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage (16:49)

About the talk: Psychologist Susan David shares how the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. In this deeply moving, humorous and potentially life-changing talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity over emotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility. A talk to share.

Why Social Workers should Listen: Susan David draws on years of psychological research to show the importance of “emotional agility” – the ability to experience a wide range of emotions, not just those on the positive end of the spectrum. In this talk, David reminds us that all emotions are normal and natural – not good or bad. For social workers talking with clients experiencing so-called negative emotions (anger, sadness, shame, guilt), this talk provides some guidance for helping them to hold and value these emotions like any others, rather than ignore them or push them aside.

  1. Robert Hazika – Refugees Want Empowerment not Handouts (6:46)

About the talk: The prevailing image of where refugees live is of temporary camps in isolated areas — but in reality, nearly 60 percent of them worldwide end up in urban areas. TED Fellow Robert Hakiza takes us inside the lives of urban refugees — and shows us how organizations like the one that he started can provide them with the skills they need to ultimately become self-sufficient.

Why Social Workers Should Listen: Robert Hazika sheds light on the realities of life in urban refugee camps, revealing the everyday struggles of people around the world living in temporary situations and striving to regain control of their lives in impossible circumstances. In this talk, Robert Hazika demystifies the lives of urban refugees, dispelling harmful stereotypes and assumptions that often underlie media depictions and social commentary of refugee populations. Social workers are often the first resources for refugees settling in a new country, and Robert’s talk provides inspiring strategies of working with refugee clients to gain the self-sufficiency they desire and deserve.

  1. Miriam Zoila Pérez – How Racism Harms Pregnant Women – and What Can Help (12:26)

About the talk: Racism is making people sick — especially black women and babies, says Miriam Zoila Pérez. The doula turned journalist explores the relationship between race, class and illness and tells us about a radically compassionate prenatal care program that can buffer pregnant women from the stress that people of color face every day.

Why Social Workers should Listen: This talk hones in on the very real connections between systemic discrimination based on race, class, and gender and health. Racism, classism, and sexism cause individuals who belong to groups marginalized by society (people of color, women, people of low socioeconomic status) to experience chronic stress symptoms, which leads to illness. As Peréz notes, research has shown that “people who experience more discrimination are more likely to have poor health.” Drawing on her experiences working in maternal health with women of color, Peréz reveals the biophysical impacts of discrimination on health, and revealing the intersectionality of identity categories.

  1. Bill Bernat – How to Connect with Depressed Friends (13:11)

About the talk: Want to connect with a depressed friend but not sure how to relate to them? Comedian and storyteller Bill Bernat has a few suggestions. Learn some dos and don’ts for talking to people living with depression — and handle your next conversation with grace and maybe a bit of humor.

Why Social Workers Should Listen: Depression is one of the main reasons people seek mental health treatment, therefore, social workers often come into contact with clients experiencing depression. Unfortunately, many people suffering from depression often experience a lack of support or contact from friends and loved ones, contributing to feelings of isolation and sadness. In this somewhat humorous take on the subject, Bill Bernat offers some very practical suggestions for connecting with people who are experiencing depression that anyone can try. Social workers can use these strategies to work with clients experiencing depression, or to loved ones connect in spite of depressive symptoms.

  1. Brené Brown – The Power of Vulnerability (20:13)

About the talk: Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.

Why Social Workers Should Listen: Brené Brown is one of today’s most well-known social workers, and in this talk, she presents some of her research in an easily accessible format. Brown discusses her discovery that vulnerability is key to connecting with others and living “whole-heartedly.” Vulnerability, according to Brown, is both “the core of shame, and fear, and our struggle for worthiness,” and also “the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” Brown shares her own journey to recognizing the value of vulnerability as a social worker, an inspiring story for all social workers striving to “lean into the discomfort of the work.”

5 Inspiring TED Talks for Social Workers
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5 Inspiring TED Talks for Social Workers
Here is a list of 5 TED talks related to the complex and compassionate roles that social workers occupy.