In today’s world, social workers are an integral part of any civilized society. By dedicating their days and lives to serving and helping the people around them, social workers contribute immensely to society’s development and progress. Often, however, there is uncertainty as to what precisely the job of a social worker entails.
What Is Social Work?
Social work is a value-centric field based on human rights, social justice, integrity, and ethical principles. The primary goal of a social worker is to aid people and groups as an advocate and facilitator in dealing with the challenges they face. Traditionally speaking, the duties of a social worker were that of an aid facilitator, such as:
- Identify the client (persons or groups such as minorities or marginalized communities) who require help or assistance.
- They analyze the overall situation of the client to identify their specific needs.
- They assist clients in developing short-term attainable goals and making concrete plans for achieving the same.
- They intervene during instances of crisis, such as physical/mental/emotional abuse, medical emergencies, etc., to remove clients from harm’s way.
- Connecting clients with the right persons and social services such as shelters, food banks, and instant employment options.
- To develop and conduct projects and programs for the benefit of disadvantaged persons and communities, including awareness events, counseling sessions, etc.
However, in recent times, the social worker’s scope of work has evolved to include advocacy, activism, empowerment, and treatment. For instance, clinical or licensed social workers who have obtained the LCSW certification are qualified to diagnose and treat mental health and associated issues through therapy and counseling. As an aspiring professional, you can also choose to specialize in a particular area of social work, such as healthcare, mental health, substance abuse, or geriatrics.
In doing so, clinical social workers can help victims of abuse and misfortune navigate through their grief and trauma; so that they can heal and move forward in life. On the other hand, social work activists work on the macro-scale, advocating and lobbying to bring about change for disadvantaged persons and communities.
The Role Of Social Workers In Social Advancements
With this rise of advocacy and empowerment in social work in the past century, social workers have contributed to many significant social advances worldwide, including movements such as civil rights, women’s rights, and poverty eradication. In fact, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has declared that the role of social workers has been pivotal in bringing about the following reforms in the United States:
- Equal civil rights to all persons irrespective of religion, sex, ethnicity, and or sexuality
- Worker’s rights, including unemployment insurance, disability pay, worker’s compensation, and social security
- De-stigmatization and empathetic treatment of disabled and mentally ill individuals and those suffering from addiction and substance abuse
- Equal access to treatment, healthcare facilities, and medicines
- Development of children’s rights and protection against child abuse and neglect
In this manner, social workers have had a vital role in promoting the social well-being of society. It especially applies to marginalized communities, low-income families, victims of abuse, and vulnerable individuals such as the elderly, children, or the disabled.
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The Impact Of Social Work On Society
In assessing the impact of social workers, it is safe to say that they are one of the driving forces behind the betterment of society today. Social work allows for and enables a community’s healthy growth and development. The three significant impacts social work has on society today are:
- Increase in Awareness regarding Social Issues
Social workers today spend a considerable amount of time and effort in raising awareness regarding social issues. In this way, social workers can start a conversation with victims and survivors, making it easier for people to seek help. Sometimes, however, victims of neglect or abuse cannot come forward on their own or, more often, are unaware that they are victims. With increased awareness in the general public, friends or acquaintances of such victims can help social workers identify those needing help. These efforts on the part of social workers not only help identify and connect with at-risk persons but also allow people to gain a better understanding of social issues.
- Rescue, Recovery, and Re-integration of Vulnerable Persons
In the first instance, social workers work tirelessly to identify victims and vulnerable persons who need help. Where necessary, social workers also put themselves in precarious situations by intervening in emergency crises to ensure the safety of the person at risk. At the next step, social workers focus on treating the affected person through clinical counseling/therapy where required. Simultaneously, there are also efforts towards the practical re-integration of the person into society. It is done by guiding the person regarding government and private benefit services, including food allowances, housing grants, employment opportunities, etc. In this manner, social workers give a new lease on life to persons who, without this assistance, would likely end up in poverty, in mental health institutions, or in criminal activities. Social workers save lives and serve the state by helping people find their path as responsible citizens. It is because transforming at-risk persons into functioning and accountable citizens reduce the long-term liability and risks associated with the former.
- Effective Policymaking for Vulnerable Groups through Advocacy
For the development and progress of any civilized society, the most vulnerable groups must be looked after. Social workers work extremely hard to pursue the introduction of laws and policies which benefit disadvantaged persons and groups. Without such policies and programs, no society can give its citizens a good quality of life. Social workers today stand with politicians and fight governments, judicial systems, and corporations for the introduction and implementation of beneficial programs for vulnerable persons. Through these fights, social workers provide the underprivileged and vulnerable an opportunity to stand on an even footing as their not-so-vulnerable counterparts. By leveling the playing field, social workers ensure that those in need do not suffer due to their past experiences or misfortune.
The impact social workers have on society today is undoubtedly significant and unparalleled. They contribute towards the betterment of society in every manner possible. They are hence essential for the development of a civilized society. However, they are seldom given due credit and recognition for their heroic endeavors. The impact social workers have on society today is undoubtedly significant and unparalleled. They contribute towards the betterment of society in every manner possible. Besides being compassionate and helping individuals, families, and groups to cope with different life challenges, they also possess the necessary skills to help bring about the much-needed change in society. They are hence essential for the development of a civilized society.