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Social Worker

Job Description

 

Social workers are skilled professionals who work with people to help them function at the best of their abilities within the scope of challenges they face in their personal situation or living environment.

Social workers assist individuals, communities and groups to enhance or restore their functional capacity for social interaction.

The approach to care is focused on problem-solving and promoting positive social change.

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Responsibilities

 

Professional social workers respond to and prevent crisis situations. They counsel individuals, families, and communities on ways to cope with the stresses of everyday living.

Social workers are frequently found working with people in low socio-economic demographics, including those in severe poverty, the unemployed, or those facing discrimination or inadequate housing.

They also help those with serious illnesses, disabilities or issues with substance abuse. Social Workers also deal with domestic abuse situations and be called in on incidents involving spousal abuse or child abuse and neglect. The social worker must work with families suffering serious domestic conflicts.

The various types of Social Workers are generally divided into the following groups:

  • Social workers who specialize in child, family and school care

  • Medical and Public Health Social Workers

  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)

Social Workers will usually specialize in one or more of over 40 varied areas of practice. Some of the popular specialization areas are:

  • Disaster relief

  • Child welfare services

  • Homeless family assistance

  • Gerontology services

Their responsibilities will often overlap with other professionals in the mental health field. LCSWs are specially trained in managing mental illness but the scope of their practice is narrower than for other mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists or psychiatric nurses.

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Skills

 

An effective social worker must employ many cognitive, professional, and emotional skills since they work with many destitute, underprivileged, and poverty-stricken people.

They have to continuously be able to read situations, solve issues, and meet people on an emotional, yet professional level.

A social worker must: 

  • Have a deep understanding of human development and behavior

  • Practice empathy

  • Active listening

  • Show reason and tolerance

  • Have good analytic and communication skills

  • Pay close attention to detail

They must have an appreciation of the gravity that various social, economic and cultural factors can have on a patient’s life, and an understanding of how these factors interact.

A social worker must also have a ton of inner strength. It takes a lot out of a person to see horrible situations day-in and day-out and be able to keep returning to it--and taking it upon yourself to help solve the issues.

One must be able to separate personal life from professional life and not get caught in the depression and hardships your clients face. A good social worker has to separate themselves from the situation so they can better analyze and attack the problems.  

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Working Conditions

 

A Social worker employed on a full-time basis usually works a standard 40-hour week. Some are required to work evenings and weekends to meet with clients when it is convenient.

They may be required to attend community meetings or handle emergencies as they arise. Other social workers work on a part-time basis, especially if they work with a nonprofit agency.

Social workers will usually spend time in a residential facility or in an office setting but may also travel in their local area to visit clients at their homes, meet with various service providers, or to attend meetings and workshops.

Many hospitals and long-term care facilities employ Social Workers as part of their healthcare teams. This places the social worker in a collaborative role with other professionals, such as clinical specialists, registered nurses and health aides.

The work can be satisfying but it can also be emotionally taxing. Many places under staff, which results in large caseloads and adds to the pressure that social workers already experience. 

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Salary Outlook