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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 (31-40):
Ms.KitKat
by Platinum Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:40 AM

 and speaking of those cases of neglect- clients who are beating and abusing and neglecting their children are not the most up-standing of citizens- or parents for that matter! Neither do these cleints tend to be the most open, honest and truthful. Social Workers are still human (underneath their long skirts, rimmed glasses and scarves) and so can only make assessments of what they see in front of them. When working with drug addicts who notoriusly lie and deceive, social workers have very hard decsions to make. Hard to do with compulsive liars!

Quoting lancet98:

 

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.

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.  

  

 

 

 

lancet98
by Silver Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:48 AM
1 mom liked this

 

True.   Someone who would beat a kid to death isn't usually the most truthful sort of person there is out there. 

These people deal with the dregs of society, and by that I don't mean the poor or disadvantaged, I don't see them as dregs.   I mean people who start lying the minute they wake up in the morning and never stop.

Too, addiction can make people do horrible things.   And can make people do almost anything rather than quit druggin or drinkin'.

Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 and speaking of those cases of neglect- clients who are beating and abusing and neglecting their children are not the most up-standing of citizens- or parents for that matter! Neither do these cleints tend to be the most open, honest and truthful. Social Workers are still human (underneath their long skirts, rimmed glasses and scarves) and so can only make assessments of what they see in front of them. When working with drug addicts who notoriusly lie and deceive, social workers have very hard decsions to make. Hard to do with compulsive liars!

Quoting lancet98:

 

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.

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.  

  

 

 

 


 

turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on May. 2, 2013 at 8:55 AM


Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 

Quoting turtle68:

IMO social workers take things too personal and that to me is a downfall. Perhaps because for the client base they work with, it IS personal to them(the client).

Im not speaking of it becoming personal because of the want to help...more like they arent listening because they dont see you worthy or appreciative enough of their time.

All those Ive met are either totally inept Burn out rate is high-most social workers don;t last past 7 years or overly passionate They are still young and have dreams of saving the world like any young person starting in a field; but that doesn;t last long (see prior statement) .

Again...the ones I know / have known are inept because they have an inability to connect dots...are culturally unaware and in most cases are very insensitive because they are unaware.  I work with indigenous people...throwing a white social worker in the mix has never been a great idea.  Not their fault, there arent many social workers who are indigenous.

One thing they all have in common....

long skirts with books, short quirky hairdo's, black rim (or red) glasses, a large silk scarf... Seriously? Most of those that I know wear pants, have ALL sorts of hairstyles , wear glasses as needed and a scarf?-I got nothin' .....that's just silly

Im old....but the fad seems to have continued through the years ...wasnt that long ago I was in a room full of social workers and honestly...only the man didnt have a scarf on?!  Not silly if that is all you see....however I am being silly :-)  Of course they dont all dress in a uniform type of way...it was just an observance of mine over the years.

oh and the ability to nod a lot. They are trying to not just listen but to hear you.

What is the nod if they have absolutely nothing to compare it to or cannot possibly understand what you are going through.  That nod...becomes condescending.


I have worked with social workers for nearly thirty odd years in some capacity and in different areas.  Ive met mainly inept ones.  I know that is not all...just my experience.

 


Ms.KitKat
by Platinum Member on May. 2, 2013 at 9:02 AM

 I do wonder if you perceive them as "inept" because they are given a job that no one would ever be able to live up to yet so many have over-exagerated expectations of them to fix a problem that is by it's very nature un-fixable or better yet, due to social ills, state laws/regulations and beuacracy, they are unable to do any more than what they are already doing. It is so easy to blame the social worker rather than recognizing that s/he is only the messanger.

Quoting turtle68:


Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 

Quoting turtle68:

IMO social workers take things too personal and that to me is a downfall. Perhaps because for the client base they work with, it IS personal to them(the client).

Im not speaking of it becoming personal because of the want to help...more like they arent listening because they dont see you worthy or appreciative enough of their time.

All those Ive met are either totally inept Burn out rate is high-most social workers don;t last past 7 years or overly passionate They are still young and have dreams of saving the world like any young person starting in a field; but that doesn;t last long (see prior statement) .

Again...the ones I know / have known are inept because they have an inability to connect dots...are culturally unaware and in most cases are very insensitive because they are unaware.  I work with indigenous people...throwing a white social worker in the mix has never been a great idea.  Not their fault, there arent many social workers who are indigenous.

One thing they all have in common....

long skirts with books, short quirky hairdo's, black rim (or red) glasses, a large silk scarf... Seriously? Most of those that I know wear pants, have ALL sorts of hairstyles , wear glasses as needed and a scarf?-I got nothin' .....that's just silly

Im old....but the fad seems to have continued through the years ...wasnt that long ago I was in a room full of social workers and honestly...only the man didnt have a scarf on?!  Not silly if that is all you see....however I am being silly :-)  Of course they dont all dress in a uniform type of way...it was just an observance of mine over the years.

oh and the ability to nod a lot. They are trying to not just listen but to hear you.

What is the nod if they have absolutely nothing to compare it to or cannot possibly understand what you are going through.  That nod...becomes condescending.


I have worked with social workers for nearly thirty odd years in some capacity and in different areas.  Ive met mainly inept ones.  I know that is not all...just my experience.

 


 

dawnie1
by #1 Raider fan on May. 2, 2013 at 9:10 AM

There have been some horrible cases here in FL where case workers have not done their jobs, falsified their reports, and children have been terribly abused to the point of death. It has shaken up the whole system statewide.

SuperChicken
by on May. 2, 2013 at 9:18 AM

I've dealt with quite a few social workers over the past 10 years, and some are great, some are so-so and some are just pathetic.  Just like every other profession.

When I went to university (20 some years ago) social work degrees were considered slacker degrees.   Everyone took social work classes for their "easy" class when they needed a credit they didn't want to have to work for, because the rest of their classes were demanding.   I don't mean that to offend anyone, it's just how the degree was looked upon at my university.  

lga1965
by on May. 2, 2013 at 9:22 AM
1 mom liked this
My inlaw ( cousin's wife ) wore pants, jeans, no long skirts. LOL. She is Jewis,worked in the South and was harassed because she actually went to college and wasn't a Christian. She relocated to another state when divorcing and people finally appreciated her.
I wish the stereotyping and bias would go away.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on May. 2, 2013 at 9:27 AM

I do not blame anyone...

They are installed and brought in to do a job....if the job isnt done.  Then I see the person doing that job as inept.

If they are brought in to help a person find their way...then that is what should happen.  What I see is a lot of talk, many phone calls, lots and lots of paper work ...then nothing.  Person walks away with a referral to a therapist.  The boxes ticked and the next person in the chair...golf clap.

A certain demographic needs help...they send in a bunch of social workers in to help.  They mean well, they listen, give suggestions, referrals...they record and then report. Who got the help?  The demographic clientele certainly didnt.

I am disillusioned by social workers to the point where I think they are not needed.  A non educated listener who understands from the forefront where the issues have stemmed from and can sympathize...not empathize is worth more than 100 educated with a degree social workers who are culturally disengaged.

Im not out to offend your field...I am being honest with my dealings with social workers and how I see the job negatively, not the person on a individual basis.  Not one social worker was a nasty horrible person, all were lovely people.

Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 I do wonder if you perceive them as "inept" because they are given a job that no one would ever be able to live up to yet so many have over-exagerated expectations of them to fix a problem that is by it's very nature un-fixable or better yet, due to social ills, state laws/regulations and beuacracy, they are unable to do any more than what they are already doing. It is so easy to blame the social worker rather than recognizing that s/he is only the messanger.

Quoting turtle68:


Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 

Quoting turtle68:

IMO social workers take things too personal and that to me is a downfall. Perhaps because for the client base they work with, it IS personal to them(the client).

Im not speaking of it becoming personal because of the want to help...more like they arent listening because they dont see you worthy or appreciative enough of their time.

All those Ive met are either totally inept Burn out rate is high-most social workers don;t last past 7 years or overly passionate They are still young and have dreams of saving the world like any young person starting in a field; but that doesn;t last long (see prior statement) .

Again...the ones I know / have known are inept because they have an inability to connect dots...are culturally unaware and in most cases are very insensitive because they are unaware.  I work with indigenous people...throwing a white social worker in the mix has never been a great idea.  Not their fault, there arent many social workers who are indigenous.

One thing they all have in common....

long skirts with books, short quirky hairdo's, black rim (or red) glasses, a large silk scarf... Seriously? Most of those that I know wear pants, have ALL sorts of hairstyles , wear glasses as needed and a scarf?-I got nothin' .....that's just silly

Im old....but the fad seems to have continued through the years ...wasnt that long ago I was in a room full of social workers and honestly...only the man didnt have a scarf on?!  Not silly if that is all you see....however I am being silly :-)  Of course they dont all dress in a uniform type of way...it was just an observance of mine over the years.

oh and the ability to nod a lot. They are trying to not just listen but to hear you.

What is the nod if they have absolutely nothing to compare it to or cannot possibly understand what you are going through.  That nod...becomes condescending.


I have worked with social workers for nearly thirty odd years in some capacity and in different areas.  Ive met mainly inept ones.  I know that is not all...just my experience.

 


 


canadianmom1974
by Gold Member on May. 2, 2013 at 9:27 AM
1 mom liked this
I think most of the negative rep comes from the fact that the stories we hear about involving social workers are mostly negative. The stories where they overstepped and took children they shouldn't have or the stories where they didn't do enough (anything) and kids died.

For example, here there was a 5 yo girl who had been removed from her mother's care, thrived in foster care. Was returned to mom, tortured to death, and literally dumped with the garbage. The social worker who visited the house to check on her - after her death - was shown a different child and didn't realise it. There had been home visits all throughout the months this child was being beaten, starved, forced to eat her own vomit, and finally thrown into the basement where she died, cold and alone.

I know a lot of social workers between my job and hubby's, and know the majority are good people doing the best they can, but that isn't what people hear about.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
dawnie1
by #1 Raider fan on May. 2, 2013 at 9:50 AM

And isn't that a dang shame in and of its self. We ALWAYS hear the bad stuff loud and clear, but the people that just go about doing their job the best they can, usually with budget cuts hanging over their heads, worrying about everything we worry about plus seeing and hearing stuff I can't even imagine. Don't hear so much when they save a kid now that I think about it.


Quoting canadianmom1974:

I think most of the negative rep comes from the fact that the stories we hear about involving social workers are mostly negative. The stories where they overstepped and took children they shouldn't have or the stories where they didn't do enough (anything) and kids died.

For example, here there was a 5 yo girl who had been removed from her mother's care, thrived in foster care. Was returned to mom, tortured to death, and literally dumped with the garbage. The social worker who visited the house to check on her - after her death - was shown a different child and didn't realise it. There had been home visits all throughout the months this child was being beaten, starved, forced to eat her own vomit, and finally thrown into the basement where she died, cold and alone.

I know a lot of social workers between my job and hubby's, and know the majority are good people doing the best they can, but that isn't what people hear about.



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