Most people tend to relate social work to what they see from TV — government workers who break apart families or take other people’s children away. In reality, however, there are many different kinds of social workers who deal with all kinds of people. Social work is a service profession in which social workers aid and support individuals who are in troublesome situations.
If you aspire to be a social worker, here are some of the things you must be aware of:
Listening is Better than Talking
Although part of a social worker’s job is to explain certain situations and provide/inform clients of resources that may help with their situation, often times listening to your clients is best before you begin giving advice.
Listening not only help build trust between social worker and client, it also allows social workers to fully understand the client’s circumstances and guide them to the best solution of a problem.
Keep in Mind Power Dynamics
As a social worker, especially one that works in the government sector, you will have power to make decisions that will impact other people’s lives. Most people, whether or not they have dealt with social workers before, will be privy to this fact. Additionally, some people will have worked with difficult social workers before, or are simply afraid to be judged in their situation.
Because of these things, it is important for social workers to recognize the power dynamics between them and their client. Assure your clients that you are there to help them, and that you are both aiming for the same goal: to improve their lives — either individually, as a family, or as a community.
People Tend to Treat Others the Way They Have Been Treated
Often, those who are perpetrators of domestic violence have been victims of domestic violence themselves. Thus, it is important to keep in mind family histories while considering current situations.
While it may be easy to view something as black and white, social workers tend to work with situations that are muddled with all kinds of grey. Most cases are a lot more complicated than labeling one person as the good guy and one as the bad guy.
Remember to Take Care of Yourself
Social workers tend to work multiple cases at once, and are often overworked. Many also work on an on-call basis, dealing with situations immediately should the need arise.
It is easy as a social worker to become so wrapped up in helping others that one forgets to take care of themselves. A good social worker knows that taking time to yourself to relax and recharge is the best way to ensure you are in prime condition and can continue serving others.
Sometimes Dealing with Organizational Structure is the Most Difficult Part
Those who go into social work usually do so because of their passion for helping others, but organizational difficulties and frustrating guidelines often drive them to quitting. There are specific government guidelines and standards that each social worker has to abide by. What many often find most frustrating is the fact that guidelines and standards that are always changing.
Peer Relationships Matter
An emotionally straining field, most social workers find it difficult to work with others. However, a good work environment is essential for success on the job. As well, working with others is a great way to learn how one can improve their work. Try finding mentors, join professional networks such as LinkedIn, and become a team collaborator.
Professional Opportunities are More Abundant with Higher Education
Social worker is used to only describe those who have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate in social work. Like most fields, the higher the degree one obtains, the more employment opportunities there are.
Higher degrees also tend to mean promotions, or higher paying jobs. For example, a master’s in social work is required for one to become a social worker manager. The average salary of a social work manager is $84, 981, as of April.
Your Education Will Not Teach You Everything You Need to Know
While education is important when it comes to becoming a social worker, practical, hands-on experience is essential to be a successful social worker. This teaches you how to interact with clients and handle each situation as they arise.
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