University of TN at Martin
Chair: Cindy West
Social Work Program – What are Social Workers?
If you’re looking for a career with meaning, action, diversity, satisfaction, and an abundance of options, consider social work. Social workers are people who care about people, who want to make things better, who want to relieve suffering, who want their work to make a difference.
Social work is a profession devoted to helping people function the best they can in their environment. This can mean providing direct services or therapy directly to people (called "clients"). It also can mean working for change to improve social conditions.
The phrase "in their environment" points to a distinguishing characteristic of social work—one that sets it apart from other helping professions. Social workers help clients deal not only with how they feel about a situation but also with what they can do about it. For example, a man suffering stress stemming from single parenting may be referred by a social worker to a child care agency. The social worker also might help him explore flextime with his employer and might work with a coalition of local employers to make flextime and child care more available. In addition, the social worker might provide therapy to help him handle the immediate stress.
Many social workers work for social change as well. The victim of an assault benefits not only from therapy but also from efforts to curb neighborhood crime. The client under stress because illness has devastated the family finances benefits from efforts to reform the nation’s health care system.
From NASW "Choices: Careers in Social Work"
Where can I work with a degree in Social Work?
Businesses and Corporations
Child welfare agencies
Community mental health centers
Family service agencies
Public welfare agencies
Foster care organizations
Schools/school districts; colleges and universities
Hospitals and clinics
State and federal legislatures
Myths concerning Social Workers
“Social workers do not earn much money.”
“Social Work is depressing because you are involved with other peoples’ problems. ”
“ To provide mental health services you need a degree in psychology.”
“Social Workers work primarily with the poor.”
“Most social workers work in government agencies.”
Would I be a good Social Worker?
Wondering whether a career in Social Work is right for you? Take this quiz and find out!
Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Dept of Labor
National Association of Social Workers www.socialworkers.org
Council on Social Work Education www.cswe.org
Providence College http://www.providence.edu/Social+Work/Careers/Myths.htm