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Beginnings, Middles, & Ends: Sideways Stories on the Art & Soul of Social Work

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by Ogden W. Rogers, Ph.D., LCSW, ACSW


NOTE: This book is also available in a Kindle edition and in the Google Play Store as an ebook.


A sideways story is some moment in life when you thought you were doing one thing, but you ended up learning another. A sideways story can also be a poem, or prose, that, because of the way it is written, may not be all that direct in its meaning. What’s nice about both clouds, and art, is that you can look at them and just resonate. That can be good for both the heart and the mind.
Many of the moments of this book have grown from experiences the author has had or stories he used in his lectures with students or told in his office with clients. Some of them have grown from essays written for others, for personal or professional reasons. They are moments on a path through the discovery of social work, a journey of beginnings, middles, and ends.
With just the right blend of humor and candor, each of these stories contains nuggets of wisdom that you will not find in a traditional textbook. They capture the essence and the art and soul of social work. In a world rushed with the illusion of technique and rank empiricism, it is the author’s hope that some of the things here might make some moment in your thinking or feeling grow as a social worker. If they provoke a smile, or a tear, or a critical question, it’s worth it. Everyone makes a different journey in a life of social work. These stories are one social worker’s travelogue along the way.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgments    7
Preface (No seriously, please read this)    9

1. Beginnings
Introductions    15
Content, Process, and Boundary    16
The Welcome Lecture    17
Latent Consequences    24
Politeness Counts    25
PigPigMotherf***er    26
2 a.m.    32
My Father’s Tales    33
Proper Noun    35
A Leg Up    36
The Advice of Captain Don    37
E.R. # 662343472    38
Going With the Defense    40
Day-At-a-Glance (age 19)    41
Day One    44
A Damn Good Question    45
Angry?    46
3 a.m. SEPpH    50
2 a.m. SEPpH    51
Addiction    53
Accommodation of a Paradigm Shift    55
Why not Why    57
Experience of the Other: The Case of Taboo
     and Metaphor    59
The Sharp Edge of Theory    63
Allison and the Role Theory    66
On Wearing My Tie    68
Stuck in a Loop. Reboot With Hope and Chaos.    71
Building Wall    74

2. Middles
In the Middle of a Middle    81
In the E.R.    85
Sweetening for Frankie    95
Dancing in the Midst (2005)    97
Detoxing Wealth    101
Occupational Therapy Tool Number 7    102
Day-At-a-Glance (age 30)    106
Halfway Down the Red Line    109
It’s a Black and White Thing    111
Paging Jesus    114
Mistaken Identity    116
The Principle of Self-Determination    117
Everybody’s Gotta Boss    120
Mid-Life Crisis    123
Practice Informed Research    124
Idle Hands    127
Happy Birthday, Eleanor    132
Principle of Opposites    135
On the Beach    136
Java Time    138
Coffee, Tea, or Systems Theory    139
Per Aquam in Verbo    142
A Slice of P-I-E on the Ward    145
Stigma    146
Malfeasance, Maldicta    149
Leaving Laundry in the Dryer: The Middles of Ends    152

3. The Dialogs of Hanna
A Dog’s Bark    157
Strengths Perspective    158
The Tao versus the Art of War    159
First, Kill All the Lawyers    160
F***ing Swiss Cheese    163
Hanna’s Rule    164
Force Continuum    165
Alphabits    167
Teleology and Deontology?    169
In the Middle of a Football Game    170
Supervisory Ruling    171
The Difference Between Smart and Right    172
The Philosophy of Science    173
Literary Criticism    174
Yet More Literary Criticism    175
Changing the Rules    176
Hiccups    179
A Halloween Story    183

4. Ends
The 9th Inning    187
Single-Subject Design    189
In Memory of Louise    190
9/11 Zen (2001)    198
Post-Modern Regret    199
The Speed of Decision: SEPpH    200
The Looking-Glass Self    201
Killing Brendan (I go, Ego, We go)    202
DNKA (Did Not Keep Appointment)    204
Chestnuts    205
The Hard Good-bye    208
The Dead Man    210
Decathexis    212
Becoming Full    213
Olfaction    217
A Scary Story    218
County Fair: The End of Summer    221
Nice Work, If You Can Get It    224
Post-Traumatic Raison d’etre    225
The Tipping Point (or, “there she goes again...”)    227
A Dog’s Life    230
Private Troubles, Public Concerns    232
The Listener’s Tale    233
Luncheons in May    234
Between Bright Lines, Beliefs, and Bell Curves:
     The Burden of the Middleweight    236
Letting Go    239
A Silver Dollar Thank You—A Coda    241

Beginnings, Middles, and EndNotes    244
About the Author    249


"Ogden Rogers has charted a course of professionalism that encourages creativity, allowing for errors, and guided by honest reflection and dedication to those whom he would serve. This read is a gift to all, whether they are starting or ending their journey of service to others.”

Terry L. Singer, Ph.D., Dean, Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville

“I found the stories humorous, sometimes painful, and incredibly honest and real. There is really nothing else out in our literature that is quite like this.  It reminds me of when we teach the art and science of social work practice—this is the art.”

Jennifer Clements, Ph.D., LCSW, Associate Professor, Shippensburg University

“...a profound piece of creative literature that will reinstill idealism within senior social workers who are on the threshold of being cynical about their work.”

Stephen M. Marson, Ph.D., Professor, University of North Carolina Pembroke

"Beginnings, Middles, and Ends by Ogden W. Rogers is a thought-provoking book about the evolution of the author's career in the field of social work. The real life stories are whimsical as well as enlightening. You follow the yellow brick road of a social work career and feel  the passion and dedication that is required of those who are engaged in the social work profession. What I learned from the various stories in the book is that a dedicated passionate social worker is first and foremost a change agent. Advocacy at all levels is the key to what all effective social workers do in order to promote that 'more perfect union.'  A great read for anyone entering the profession, or if you are involved and feel your passion flickering, this book will surely re-ignite your love."
Mildred "Mit" Joyner,  MSW, LCSW
Emerita Director and Professor of Social Work
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
“Recommended reading for new social workers, experienced social workers, friends and families of social workers, and future social workers because of the variety of anecdotal case presentations and personal perceptions. Truly open and honest portrayals of social work and the helping professions with touching, easy-to-read entries fit within the beginning, middle, and ending framework. This book is suggested for both public and academic libraries to support the career services and/or professional development collections.”
Rebecca S. Traub, M.L.S., Library Specialist, Temple University Harrisburg 

"The great success of dogs as a species is their capacity to live in a relationship with humans that is centered on ambiguous communication. With the insight and style of opening sentences like this one, a reader can be sure that the book in hand is not generic. In fact, this compilation of 99 wise stories and parables based on over two decades of social work in a variety of settings is virtually sui generisa unique work."
Marshall Toman, Ph.D., Professor, Chair, Department of English
University of Wisconsin—River Falls

"Social workers who need some self care (and that's all of us)—shell out the $20 and get this book. You won't regret it! Even if you don't know Dr. Rogers, you'll get to know him in Beginnings, Middles, and Ends. Entertaining and even a little educational. It's a good read."
Candace Larocque, BSW, LSW 

"A most enjoyable and inspiring reading about life as a social worker."
DorleeM, Social Work Career Development blog
"Seasoned or more experienced social workers will be nodding their heads and smiling while remembering their own beginnings in the field. Social work students will see the book as a wonderful learning opportunity and get an idea of what lies ahead, and those relatively new to the profession will ‘see’ or ‘be’ a mixture of the two."
Victoria Brewster, Social Justice Solutions


Product Videos

Dr. Ogden Rogers on the Social Workers Talk Show 12/11/14 (36:51)
Ogden Rogers, Ph.D. being interviewed on the SOCIAL WORKERS radio talk show. Originally broadcast on December 11, 2014 on WCDB 90.9 FM at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Dr. Ogden Rogers, author of Beginnings, Middles, and Ends: Sideways Stories on the Art & Soul of Social Work´╗┐
  • Dr. Ogden Rogers on the Social Workers Talk Show 12/11/14
    Ogden Rogers, Ph.D. being interviewed on the SOCIAL WORKERS ra...

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Ogden W. Rogers, Ph.D., LCSW, ACSW
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