What Does A Social Worker Do?

"I am certain that I want to get into something involving counseling after I graduate. I’m just not sure what kind of counselor I want to be. I just want to help people get through difficult experiences. I think it’d be a rewarding way to spend my life, and it’d probably help me too. I was wondering, what is a social worker, specifically? I know social work is a kind of counseling, but that’s all I know about it."

asked by Helena from Bangor, ME

Social workers are counselors who help people to get through traumatic situations and major life changes. There are two main types—direct-service social workers and clinical social workers. Clinical social workers diagnose and treat various behavioral, emotional, and mental problems, while direct-service social workers help people to cope with problems—problems which are not necessarily linked directly to mental illness.

If you become a direct-service social worker, you will learn how to assess your clients’ situations, work with them to figure out their goals, and come up with plans which could improve their lives. You may be working with patients who are going through major changes in their personal lives (like a divorce), who have been diagnosed suddenly with a serious illness or who have sustained a serious injury, or who are unemployed.

Clients are often unaware of government programs and support networks that can help them. You will help your clients to identify these resources sand apply for aid. After you put your clients in touch with resources that can assist them, you will follow up to ensure that progress is being made. It is also your job to make sure the services you recommend are truly beneficial.

Clinical social workers are also called licensed clinical social workers. They help patients by diagnosing disorders, provide therapy to individuals, families, couples, and come up with treatment plans in conjunction with other healthcare providers.

If major life changes are involved with the situation, clinical social workers will provide support similar to that which would be given by a direct-service social worker as well. Assisting with coping, providing resources, and coming up with plans for positive life changes are all part of this job.

So both types of social work overlap, but each also includes distinct responsibilities. Social workers may work in private or group practices with other social workers or health professionals. Some are occupationally specific, like child or family social workers, school social workers, and healthcare social workers.

Social Workers don’t earn the highest salary, but it’s a decent living wage, and pretty good considering many positions in social work are available with nothing more than a bachelor’s degree. If you wanted to become a psychologist, you would almost certainly need a master’s degree or even a doctoral degree.

Career Spotlight: Social Worker

Social Worker

Social Worker

Social workers have complex jobs that involve a mixture of counseling and gathering resources to aid their clients. Social work is assistance granted to people in need of supportive and psychological [...]

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