There are many misconceptions that are still held in the community in regard to the type of services that are provided by social workers.
Many people do not realize just how much there actually is to social work, and misconceptions and even stigmas can cause people to avoid availing themselves of the help that can be provided by social workers and even deter students from pursuing a career as a licensed social worker.
The main aim of social workers is to give support, answer questions, and develop plans that assist their clients to achieve success in their lives.
Social workers are not welfare workers
Social work is not just there for people who are in a bad position and can be of assistance for people in all walks of life in many different situations.
The majority of social workers spend their time specializing in a particular area of the environment or population such as families and children, healthcare, substance abuse, schools and mental health.
Social workers in the healthcare industry, for instance, may offer end-of-life or trauma counseling, help patients and their families to better understand diagnoses, and come up with plans to assist clients to make the required changes.
This can include providing resources for home help, support group and housing.
Social workers do not want to take children away from their parents
Making sure that families are able to stay together is in the best interest of all concerned. Social workers therefore offer assistance so that children and families who are at risk can assess programs and resources that can be of use to them.
Social workers in schools work alongside parents, students and teachers to deal with issues such as aggressive behavior and bullying to ensure that students can be successful in their academic careers, while family and child social workers assist parents to apply for benefits including food stamps and with finding affordable childcare.
This type of social worker is also able to provide mental health support to families and children coping with issues such as bereavement, divorce and teenage pregnancy, among other life-changing events.
Social work is not dangerous
While social workers may have to deal with clients who can sometimes be aggressive due to instability, with psychological aggression actually being more common than physical aggression, they do not lack protection and not all social workers will face this type of experience.
Safety training programs and policies for the protection of social workers are in place throughout the profession in order to ensure the safety of workers.
You need more than just a good heart to be a social worker
Although caring about other people is important in any profession, compassion is far from being the only quality that is required from a social worker.
Social workers are responsible for filling many of their clients’ needs, offering counseling services, assisting clients with benefit applications, offering advice on programs and resources that may be available to them, assessing their goals and strengths, and responding to crisis situations.
Social workers are also tasked with evaluating and monitoring the success of their clients to ensure the effectiveness of their methods.
Social workers require not just natural empathy and compassion, but also excellent listening, time management, problem-solving and research skills, and the ability to work under pressure.
Social workers are not volunteers or underpaid
Social work is a real profession with two main categories of social worker: clinical social workers and direct service social workers.
Clinical social workers are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients with addictions, emotional issues, mental illnesses and behavioral problems.
Direct service social workers, on the other hand, assist clients to deal with day-to-day problems and life-changing events.
Although volunteers help with improving communities and the lives of the people in them, social workers do not fall into this category.
Social workers need years of study and training before they can enter the workforce in this capacity, and a gaining a degree is essential for those looking to become a licensed social worker – Florida State University, with its Online MSW program, could be the ideal place to start.
The US Bureau of Labor statistics put the median salary for social workers in the US at around $42,480 back at the start of the 2010s, with the top 10% of earners making at least $70,390.
A sociology degree does not mean that you can be a social worker
A sociology degree does not count as a social work degree, being the study of the structure and function of human society.
On the other hand, courses in social work make students ready to locate resources and help to deal with social problems.
Although understanding sociology can be helpful for aspiring social workers, holding a degree in sociology does not make you qualified to be a social worker.
Clinical social workers need to have a master’s degree in social work, while direct care social workers need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work, and different states in the US also have certification and licensure requirements in place for the profession.
Social workers can progress in their careers
The term social work is a generic one that allows people in the profession to work across a wide array of different teams – in child protection, mental health, disabilities, youth justice and adult social work, and many others.
Within a few years of qualification, it will be possible to gain promotion to different positions such as line manager or senior social worker, and there is also much scope to gain entry to other careers, including training, consultancy, policymaking or academia.
It is not only women who are social workers
While social work has long been perceived as a female-oriented profession, the reality is that men have a powerful role to play in the field as they can serve as role models for children who may not have such a figure in their lives.
Male social workers can build amazing relationships with struggling or estranged fathers and help them to regain a place in the lives of their children, with male social workers often running specific programs for fathers in parenting skills.
Social workers can make a real difference to the lives of others, which means that social work is a very rewarding career.