Different Types of Social Workers

Social work can be a very broad field to work in, as a social worker can usually be helping a variety of individuals, families, as well as communities through all kinds of situations and problems.

If you aspire to be a social worker, it is important to note that many social workers have a specialty in which they work in. Each specialty lead to a career in a certain type of social worker, thus it is important to have an idea of what type of social worker you would want to be before pursuing your degree in social work — especially a master’s.

Victim Advocate Social Worker

Acting as a liaison between a crime victim and the criminal court, victim advocates not only guide crime victims through the complexities of the legal system, they also help with providing healthy coping mechanisms for emotional stress and trauma for the crime victim.

During police investigation as well as trial periods, victims of crime often have to relive through trauma recounting their version of events; victim advocates are there to ensure the impact this has on the emotional health of the crime victim is minimal.

Victim advocates can work with a wide range of people who have been victim to crimes such as child abuse, spousal abuse, sexual assault, attempted murder, or negligent homicide, assault, and battery.

School Social Worker

School social workers help in the emotional and mental health of students at all kinds of education levels, but mainly in elementary, middle school, or high schools.

Because many schools have a diverse social, economic, and racial community, school social workers could help guide students through issues that could stem from lack of acceptance, work to integrate a more accepting school community, or improve school policies. School social workers can also help students with the pressures and stress that comes with education, as well as cope with familial issues.

Mental Health & Substance Abuse Social Worker

Although very different for those suffering from it, the work of substance abuse social workers are often the same as those of mental health social workers; thus one who works as a mental health social worker can also work as a substance abuse social worker.

Mental health & substance abuse social workers help with the recovery by providing therapy, implementing and leading group programs, and/or referrals to medical services. Not only that, mental health & substance abuse social workers can also aid families in the process of understanding, accepting, and coping with a family member’s mental illness or substance addiction.

Mental health & substance abuse social workers typically work in psychiatric facilities or rehabilitation centres.

Medical Social Worker

Medical social workers work patients and their families who are in need psychosocial help. This usually means helping patients and their families with incorporating the patient’s illness or diagnosis into everyday life, or cope with a terminal illness. They could also help patients expand or strengthen their social network by connecting them with others who have/ have had the same illness. Additionally, medical social workers guide patients through the complex processes of legal and financial systems in the medical field.

Public Health Social Worker

Public health social workers typically do work for communities as opposed to individuals. They help with the well being of the community and those who live in it. They do so by creating and implementing outreach and/or prevention programs that improve the public health of communities. Some community problems that a public health social worker may encounter can include poverty, homelessness, teen pregnancies, crime, addiction, and/or others.

Typically, public health social workers work in nonprofit companies or city governments.

Family and Child Services Social Worker

This type of social worker is what most people generalize social workers to be. However, the job of a family and child services social worker involves more than just removing a child away from their homes or families — this is often the last resort.

Family and child services social workers work with families to ensure the well being of the child. This can mean helping parents and/or guardians of the child find a variety of resources so that they can raise and provide for the child. Family and child services social workers could also work to support children who have experienced trauma, loss, and/or abuse.

Some typical problems that family and child services social workers help families with are financial issues, unhealthy relationships, domestic abuse, mental illness, medical issues, and economic stress.

Military Services and Veterans Social Worker

Many veterans who come back from service have difficulty integrating back to the society they had previously left. Some suffer from mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Military services and veterans social workers work to help veterans cope with these issues. As well, they provide support for the veteran’s family as many families have trouble adjusting when a family member in the military returns home.

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