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Why do Social Workers have a Negative Rep?

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 My thoughts are: most people who come across those in the "profession" are not social workers at all although perhaps they carry the title. These are actually para-professionals who lack true skill and training in the field of Social Work. Due to lack of funding, scant grant monies, poor work environment overall, etc......those that carry the tittle of social worker are in fact rarely degreed and therefore lack the ability to be true helpers. They give the Profession of Social Work a negative reputation. Thoughts? 

The Truth About Social Work

What people think they know about social work is often a myth, according to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

Contrary to popular belief, social workers are trained professionals who have bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees –- they are not social services employees, caseworkers or volunteers. Only a fraction of social workers are employed in public or child welfare, and social workers are the nation's largest providers of mental health and therapy services.

"The diversity of roles for social workers is enormous," says Ruth W. Mayden, MSS, former president of the NASW and former dean of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia.

Social workers practice in a wide variety of settings, and their presence is constantly evolving. According to Mayden, five arenas in which the demand for social workers is growing are:

  • Aging: As the population of elderly Americans explodes in coming decades, social workers with expertise in gerontology will keep busy. They'll provide counseling to seniors, help them maintain their independence at home, plan for future care and generally help improve their quality of life.
  • Human Resources: Businesses hire occupational social workers to help manage on-site workplace conflict and to make workplaces safer and more family-friendly. A growing practice area for occupational social workers is in employee assistance programs.
  • Schools: Social workers are often part of the interdisciplinary teams that school systems set up to help children with emotional, developmental or educational needs. Some schools now serve as community centers and offer classes and social services for adults, too, which is spurring further demand for school social workers.
  • Healthcare: Social workers are vital members of the healthcare team in many hospitals and clinics. Licensed clinical social workers provide direct counseling services; other social workers serve as patient advocates by coordinating medical and emotional treatment, managing services a patient may require for recovery and planning for care after hospitalization.
  • Institutional Giving: Corporations that place an emphasis on employee volunteerism and community service are hiring social workers to coordinate their efforts. Private foundations with money earmarked for community development also place a premium on social workers because of their inside knowledge of worthy causes.

Despite the diversity of settings, the common thread joining all social workers is their motivation, Mayden says. Social workers are part of a professional community "dedicated to social justice and empowerment," she explains. "It's not about the individual, but about how the individual can use his or her skills and talents to help other individuals or communities grow and thrive."

"As social workers, we view clients within their own environments," adds Miriam Oliensis-Torres, MSW, co-owner of Geriatric Support Associates in Milwaukee. "That's one of the things I like most about social work. We get to approach situations from a holistic perspective."

Would You Make a Good Social Worker?

According to veteran social workers Oliensis-Torres and Mayden, you'll succeed in the field if you have:

  • The ability to accept (and not judge) people who are different from yourself.
  • Patience and a sense of humor.
  • An interest in the dynamics of interpersonal and organizational relationships.
  • An interest in social policy.
  • The capacity to be self-critical and always alert as to whether you're taking the proper steps on a client's behalf.
  • Good listening skills.
  • The ability to put situations in perspective, which will help you avoid burnout.
by on May. 1, 2013 at 7:35 PM
Replies (21-30):
Dawn4175
by Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:19 AM
1 mom liked this
I think people too often mistake a child protective caseworker for a social worker. CPS workers are VERY often NOT social workers at all.
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UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:24 AM

I'm a social worker, kind of. I manage a child abuse prevention program but not your typical "use time outs, count to ten when you're angry" kind of prevention...real prevention. I've got 5 amazing home visitors who give you more bang for your tax dollar than you can imagine.

UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:25 AM

This is true. They are doing case management, not what we think of as social work. They may very well have degrees in social work but case management is only one aspect of social work. 


Quoting Dawn4175:

I think people too often mistake a child protective caseworker for a social worker. CPS workers are VERY often NOT social workers at all.


 

prommy
by Silver Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:26 AM
1 mom liked this

 

Quoting Sisteract:

I work with many social workers. My niece is a LCSW.

I have nothing but admiration for MSWs- the waiting list for degree program admissions is quite long.

 You work in a hospital don't you? When my son was being treated for Leukemia we had a social worker who helped us more than I can say! Not only did she help us with financial aid during treatment she also brought humor and laughter to what otherwise would have been a very scary time. Social workers are there to help and she went way beyond merely helping, she became family.

UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Well...now you have.  


Quoting happy2bmom25:

I have never met a smart social worker, and I knew many with their masters. 


 

lga1965
by Ruby Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:29 AM

 

Quoting happy2bmom25:

I have never met a smart social worker, and I knew many with their masters. 

 LOL. Do you have a Degree in ANYTHING?

mcginnisc
by Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:29 AM
1 mom liked this

I have met a couple of SW and they were very pleasant people. When we adopted our dd, our SW was a man and he was amazing to work with. It meant a lot that he was also an adoptive parent so we could go to him about anything. 

Claire


" I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 

Ms.KitKat
by Platinum Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:29 AM

 Very true! Thank you for high-lighting that. Not to dismiss the very hard work that they do!

Quoting Dawn4175:

I think people too often mistake a child protective caseworker for a social worker. CPS workers are VERY often NOT social workers at all.

 

Ms.KitKat
by Platinum Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:32 AM

 

Quoting UpSheRises:

I'm a social worker, kind of. I manage a child abuse prevention program but not your typical "use time outs, count to ten when you're angry" kind of prevention...real prevention. I've got 5 amazing home visitors who give you more bang for your tax dollar than you can imagine.

 Not to dismiss you and the work you do however

you can not be a "kind-of-social worker." You either are a Social Worker or you are not. Para-profesionals who use that title but who are not actually Social Workers is very misleading to your clients. 

lancet98
by Silver Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:33 AM
1 mom liked this

 

Well.   In most cases of neglect, it is not the social worker who is at fault, but the agency, which gives them so many cases they can't possibly keep track of them all.   Also keep in mind that many states limit the authority of the social worker, and then blame them, rather than policies or supervisors, when something goes wrong.

I've dealt with a lot of social workers in my time.    Like any job, some are great, some are lousy, and most are in the middle, competent, decent folks who work hard and get little recognition when they do a good job.   The stress level is extremely high and you get blamed for deciding things that you don't even have the authority to make decisions on.

Most of them work their a**es off.   It's a very stressful job.   You get a lot of responsibility and no authority.  

And keep this in mind.   Social workers get shot, killed, beat up, it is a very hard job.

And yes, actually, to hold the title of social worker one must have a degree and maintain a license, pass tests, etc.   Competition for jobs is intense in most places.

The last social worker I ever worked with was what I think of as a miracle worker.   She made a practice of getting the most severely mentally ill, chronically homeless,many of them for decades, onto medication, off the street, into apartments.   She weighed about 90 lbs soaking wet and was as big as a willow branch, and she would go ANYWHERE for the job, went into some pretty bad places.   Pretty incredible gal.  

Quoting PestPatti:,

 

  Maybe because of the sensationalized cases of kids falling through the cracks, and then they end up either hurt or dead.

 I am thinking about one such case in my county here in NY.  They always had the evidence in front of them, they did nothing.  A 6 year old died.  

  

 

 

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