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Social workers are employed in the field of social work.
- Main article: Qualifications for professional social work
Professional social workers are generally considered those who hold a professional degree in Social Work. Often these practitioners must also obtain a license or be professionally registered. In many areas of the Western world, social workers start with a Bachelor of Social Work (BA, BSc or BSW) degree. Some countries, such as the United States, also offer post-graduate degrees like the master's degree (MA, MSc or MSW) or the doctoral degree (Ph.D or DSW).
In the United Kingdom, often referred to as social services assistants or care workers, are persons who are not professionally registered and often do not hold any formal social work qualification. In England, to use the term 'social worker', one must register with the General Social Care Council (GSCC). This followed the Care Standards Act 2000 which has protected the title since April 2005 in England. Within the mental health sector in the UK, an additional qualification can be gained: an "Approved Social Worker". This enables the practitioner to assess and make an application to hospital for admission under the Mental Health Act 1983.
In a number of countries and jurisdictions, registration or licensure of people working as social workers is required and there are mandated qualifications. In other places, a professional association sets academic and experiential requirements for admission to membership. The success of these professional bodies' efforts are demonstrated in the fact that these same requirements are recognized by employers as necessary for employment.
There are a number of professional associations for social workers. The purpose of these associations is to provide advocacy, ethical guidance, and other forms of support for their members and social workers in general. Two of these are the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW). In the United States, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest. The Iowa School Social Workers Association (ISSWA) is made up of masters level social workers employed by area education agencies and local school districts in Iowa.
On a national level there are organizations regulating the profession, as well. Some of these are the British Association of Social Workers (United Kingdom), the Australian Association of Social Workers (Australia), the Professional Social Workers' Association (India), the Hellenic Association of Social Workers (Greece) and so forth.
Role of the professional
- Main article: Role of the professional social worker
Professional social workers have a strong tradition of working for social justice and of refusing to recreate unequal social structures.[How to reference and link to summary or text] The main tasks of professional social workers can include a variety of services such as case management (linking clients with agencies and programs that will meet their psychosocial needs), medical social work, counseling (psychotherapy), human services management, social welfare policy analysis, community organizing, advocacy, teaching (in schools of social work), and social science research. Professional social workers work in a variety of settings, including: non-profit or public social service agencies, grassroots advocacy organizations, hospitals, hospices, community health agencies, schools, faith-based organizations, and even the military. Some social workers work as psychotherapists, counselors, or mental health practitioners, often working in collaboration with psychiatrists, psychologists, or other medical professionals. Social workers may also work independently as private practice psychotherapists in the United States and are able to bill most third party payers such as insurance companies. Additionally, some social workers focus their efforts on social policy or conduct academic research into the practice or ethics of social work. The emphasis has varied among these task areas by historical era and country. Some of these areas have been the subject of controversy as to whether they are properly part of social work's mission.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
A variety of settings employ social workers, including governmental departments (especially in the areas of child and family welfare, mental health, correctional services, and education departments), hospitals, non-government welfare agencies and private practice - working independently as counsellors, family therapists or researchers.
Types of professional intervention
There are three general categories or levels of intervention. The first is "Macro" social work which involves society or communities as a whole. This type of social work practice would include policy forming and advocacy on a national or international scale. The second level of intervention is described as "Meso" social work practice. This level would involve work with agencies, small organizations, and other small groups. This practice would include policy making within a social work agency or developing programs for a particular neighborhood. The final level is the "Micro" level that involves service to individuals and families.
There are a wide variety of activities that can be considered social work and professional social workers are employed in many different types of environments. In general, social workers employed in clinical or direct practice work on a micro level. Social workers who serve in community practice are occupied in the mezzo or macro levels of social work. The following lists detail some of the types of jobs that social workers may do.
Types of clinical or direct practice
- Aging or gerontology
- Income assistance
- Job training/placement
- Food bank programs
- Housing and homelessness
- Assessment and diagnosis
- Case management
- Child welfare
- Clinical supervision
- Counseling or psychotherapy
- Crisis intervention
- Disability services
- Domestic violence
- Employee assistance programs
- Family planning
- Family therapy/Family interventions
- Forensic social work
- Group therapy or other group work
- Immigrant and refugee services and supports
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender supports
- Medical social work
- Person centered planning
- Play therapy
- Psychosocial and psychoeducational interventions
- Relationship counseling and interpersonal counseling
- Relationship education
- School social work
- Substance abuse
- Violence prevention
Types of community practice
- Main article: Community practice
- Community development
- Community economic development
- Community education
- Community organizing
- Critical social work
- International development
- Neighborhood development
- Policy advocacy
- Policy analysis
- Political participation
- Program development
- Program evaluation
- Relationship Education
- Social action
- Social movement
- Social planning
- Psychiatric social workers
- Health personnel
- Law enforcement personnel
- Mental health personnel
- Rehabilitation counselors
- Vocational counsellors
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