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Rahat Pye: Social Worker


"I had an idea of what I should do and I wasn't able to find my way. It doesn't have to be so prescriptive. Give yourself permission to veer."


I had a fun conversation with Rahat Pye about her career and life as a clinical social worker.


Rahat projected a love for what she does for a living, even over our Zoom conversation!

Watch and listen to the conversation here.


Rahat Pye is a clinical social worker in Toronto, Canada, who has a private practice. Her focus is adolescent mental health. She works with young people aged twelve and up, as well as families, couples, and adults, since these groups all tie into adolescent work.


Rahat started out pursuing a career in science. Her mom was an immigrant doctor, and her father, a dentist from a hard-working family. She was raised to believe she should have a profession, and it should be in science. From an early age she was told that this was the way she would be successful.


In high school and then in her undergraduate science program at Queen's University, Rahat was really good at science, but it wasn't until she finished her Bachelor of Science that she realized it wasn't what she really loved. She decided to go back to school, and completed a degree in Philosophy, to build on her writing skills. Then, Rahat applied several times to the school of social work before she was accepted.


HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR CONVERSATION:

  • why social work? For many people she explained, they go into social work with the idea of helping people. Rahat was driven by the idea of social change. She likes the idea of being connected with people, hearing their stories. She's interested in community, interpersonal, and political change.

  • she volunteered at a group home and for the United Way, and she had an influential grandfather in India who was an activist.

  • she moved away from science because "it was really hard, challenging, and competitive. It didn't tap into all the pieces that were true of me."

  • Rahat figured out eventually "who I am, and what I need to be successful and what really thrills me in learning."

  • after finishing top of the class in her social work program, she worked for fifteen years in a community agency. This experience allowed her to eventually set up her current private practice, at which she sits with clients through the work day in 50-minute sessions, hearing their stories and working through problems. In her practice, she collaborates with other organizations, and does a fair bit of outreach work.

  • Rahat admits that sometimes the work can be draining.

  • in her agency work and with the school board, Rahat worked with many skilled clinicians, made excellent relationships, and as a result she's now part of a huge professional community. She says it's not work you can do by yourself, and from others, you learn how to think about your work and how to support yourself and others in your work. She urges young people to build strong professional communities in their careers.


TIPS AND ADVICE FOR STUDENTS:

  • you need a university degree to be a social worker, but there are great college programs if you want to be a social service worker, or child youth worker.

  • "don't have a plan."

  • "I had an idea of what I should do and I wasn't able to find my way. It doesn't have to be so prescriptive. Give yourself permission to veer."

  • know what your strengths are but learn from people around you.

  • ask good and thoughtful questions, and don't feel shame for not having all the answers.

  • build relationships and connection, and support for yourself. The more you work on this skill, the more successful and happy you'll be.

WHAT SHE LOVES:

  • I love my own schedule.

  • I love teenagers. I love how they live, they are interesting, fun, smart, and cool.

SURPRISES?

  • "the impact I've been able to make on someone. There are these moments when young people get the connection they need and it has a really big impact."



This conversation was interesting and I could feel the passion Rahat has for her work, and lifestyle (even over Zoom!)

Thank you Rahat for sharing your stories and ideas with our audience!


This interview was taped during the COVID19 pandemic, June 2020.

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