What do professional social workers do?
We work to establish social and economic justice, prevent conditions that limit human rights, eliminate poverty, and enhance the quality of life for all persons. A social work education provides students with the values, knowledge and skills to intervene with individuals and families in need. But social work students also study and learn to address social problems on a larger scale — problems such as poverty and homelessness, violence in our families and communities, the millions of Americans who are in poor health, discrimination, child abuse, neglect and exploitation, human rights violations, inequalities in our public schools, and lack of mental health services. Social workers help individuals function better within their environment but also work on changing the environment so that it works better for individuals and families. This is one of the defining features of the social work profession.
Where do social workers work?
They are employed in a wide variety of settings including schools, hospice, substance abuse treatment centers, domestic violence agencies, hospitals, criminal justice settings, services for children and families, homeless shelters, nonprofit organizations, advocacy organizations, services for military veterans, organizations serving older adults, and mental health. In fact, throughout the nation more social workers deliver mental health services than any other profession. Wherever we find poverty or substance abuse, wherever mental and physical health challenges limit people from realizing their true potential, and wherever we see social injustice and oppression, that’s where you’ll find social workers.
What do social workers value?
You will find social workers to be passionate about their profession. It is a calling, the rewards of which go far beyond a salary. Social workers value the importance of human relationships. They believe everyone is entitled to live a life of dignity. They believe people have a right to determine their own future, and that all people possess strengths and talents. Social workers excel at teaching people to tap into their strengths and to maximize their potential.