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What Is Social Work?


WhatIsSocialWorkSocial work is a helping profession; the main goal of social work is to improve a society’s overall well-being, especially for the most vulnerable populations.

You may be wondering, “Why social work instead of other helping professions?” Social work’s distinguishing characteristics are its emphasis on the person-in-environment model and its emphasis on social justice. In other words, social workers not only consider individuals’ internal struggles, as other counselors might, they also work with people to examine their relationships, family history, work environment, community environment, and the structures and policies that impact themin order to identify ways to help address a problem or challenge. Social workers also do not limit their work to individuals; they work with individuals, couples, families, groups, neighborhoods, communities, and organizations.

Social work practice is also strengths-based. Social workers help people or groups identify their problems, determine their skills and capacities, what they are doing well, and how that was accomplished, and then analyze ways that those strengths might be applied to the identified problems.

Many social workers work directly with clients who are individuals, families or small groups. These social workers help clients cope with problems such as poverty, abuse, addiction, and mental illness by providing counseling, connecting clients with service providers, and empowering clients to meet their own needs.

Other social workers choose to work with communities, organizations or governments. These workers advocate for vulnerable populations, fighting to end the inequalities and injustices they see in their communities. They create policies, break down barriers, and drive reform.

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