What is social work?

Social work is a complex profession that can be difficult to define. In the past, social workers were called upon to work with the most vulnerable members of our society; children. While many social workers still work with children, the field of social work has expanded. Today, you can find social workers everywhere from hospitals to homeless shelters. And while the broadness of the field can make the role of social workers difficult to define it also makes social work an extremely versatile and marketable profession.

Though often a source of confusion, it is important to understand that social work is meant to be broad and ambiguous; Social work is necessarily as complicated as the society in which it operates. For those who are considering social work as a career, but are not quite sure what it entails, I urge you to think of social work as a mission instead of a job.

I work with children and families. This means that my job takes me to different places  and I interact with different people. As a social worker, I have learned how to build relationships with others and to create environments that allow the people I am working with to share what they were comfortable with, their edited versions of their life stories, at least until they are ready to share their unedited versions. I have learned to ask the right questions to get the answer I need to provide that necessary support. social work is not just a job, it a continous learning curve.

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In short, social work is not as much a “what” as it is a “how”. “How can we address homelessness, mental health, educational inequality, and other social injustices?” If you have an answer then maybe you are a “who”! So, what do you think? Could social work be for you?

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