10 Things You Might Not Know Social Workers Do

If there is ever a day to recognize, it is World Social Work Day. On March 19, this is an opportunity to show appreciation for all the social workers who make a difference daily. It can be an emotionally taxing job that doesn’t always get the attention and thanks it deserves.

Did you know that statistics from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) show more than 700,000 social workers in the country as of 2021? By 2031, the field is expected to grow by another 9%, well above the average job growth rate. This highlights just how important social workers are to the country.

For those who haven’t gone to school and studied to be a social worker, you may not know what it is they do exactly. To honor all the hardworking social workers across the country and the world, here’s a look at ten things you may not know social workers do.

Social Workers Can Help All Types of People

Social Worker Talking To Mother And Children At Home
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The first thing to know about social workers is that they can help all types of people. They help individuals (kids, teens, adults), families, and even groups. They help people with social problems, life-threatening diseases, disability, those who do not have access to housing, those suffering from substance abuse, those who are unemployed, victims of domestic violence, and so on. They are there to help the person or people cope, offering them various support tools.

Social Workers Advocate for Others

Healthcare worker showing her badge at the front door of a senior woman home
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A big part of the job is advocating for others, including those who don’t know how or find it challenging to advocate for themselves. This is why social workers need to deeply understand of cultural, social, behavioral, and economic institutions.

Social Workers Continue to Monitor and Follow Up with Clients

Mature social worker talking to senior man and taking notes of health progress
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Seeing a client for the first time is just that—the first time. Social workers must monitor and book follow-up appointments with that individual, family, or group. Following up ensures that the support and help offered by the social worker are being used and benefit the client. This also means they need to maintain meticulous records and case files.

Social Workers Have the Flexibility to Work in Different Locations

Care worker giving an old lady her dinner in her home
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Even the employment location varies for social workers, who can be employed in different places and institutions. Some of the places a social worker may work include:

  • Hospitals
  • Mental Health clinics
  • Schools
  • Senior centers
  • Prisons
  • Private and public agencies
  • Corporations
  • Elected office
  • Military
  • Halfway houses
  • Adoption agencies
  • Child welfare and human service agencies

Someone trained to be a social worker can also become a social service director or a community service director, both of which are more senior positions.

Social Workers Need to Complete a Fair Amount of Schooling Before Getting a Job

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Because social work is an intensive career path requiring knowledge in several key areas, quite a bit of schooling is needed. Generally speaking, a bachelor’s or master’s degree will be required to be hired as a social worker.

To be recognized, the program must also be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Each state has its requirements for licensing and supervised clinical experience.

Social Workers Can Sometimes Assist Policymakers

Young happy business woman working with tablet in corporate office
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Social workers are not just helpful to people in need; policy workers can also hire them to provide input and valuable insight. A social worker can then help effect change by raising awareness with policymakers, resulting in better support, resources, and situations for clients.

Social Workers Can Help Kids in The School Environment

Father and toddler daughter in therapist office during counselling assessment meeting
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Children deal with many issues and problems, some of which can significantly impact their mental and physical well-being. This is when a social worker can be very helpful, making sure they look out for the child’s best interest. They can visit children at school to help them with learning challenges, social challenges, bullying, and other issues.

Social Workers Can Work in a Geriatric Setting

Picture of smiling nurse assisting senior man
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One of the areas experiencing the most growth and demand is geriatric social work. This makes sense when you think about the aging baby boomers who will require more healthcare. Geriatric social work involves helping patients, some of them critically ill, and ensuring they have what they need for health care, resources, and support.

Social Workers Help Those with Substance Abuse Issues

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Substance abuse is something that roughly 46.8 million Americans (12 and over) are dealing with. It’s a widespread issue that affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Of those who suffer from substance abuse, 21.5 million of them also have a mental health disorder.

Social workers will help the client find treatment – if they are ready to get it – and then advocate for them. They are an integral part of the “treatment team” for substance abuse.

Social Workers Tap Into Several Techniques Depending on the Client

Group therapy: diverse people talking and giving support
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A social worker also needs to read the situation and the client so they can use the appropriate counseling and interviewing techniques. Not every client will benefit from the same approach, so the social worker must be flexible and ready to adapt as the client requires. This means that no two counseling sessions will ever be identical.

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