Social Work

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   A future in Social Work

Major in Social Work

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

As Christians, we have been given the Scriptural command “to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Much of the Old Testament law reflects God’s heart to uphold family and defend orphans, widows, political aliens, prisoners and the poor.  The New Testament contains examples like the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) who demonstrates actions of love towards the socially ostracized. Social work, according to Merriam Webster, entails the investigation, treatment, and material aid of the economically, physically, mentally, or socially disadvantaged. Its aim is to enhance social functioning and overall wellbeing for individuals, families, communities and society at large.  The intersection between Christian responsibility and social work is clear! 

So what skills are needed in order to seek a career in this important profession? Beyond the desire to compassionately serve the needs of the vulnerable, it is imperative a social worker possess strong interpersonal and communication skills. In addition, it is necessary to evaluate data objectively and make wise assessments pertaining to real-life situations. A skilled social worker must develop flexibility and creative problem solving. It is beneficial to be a strong multi-tasker as social workers must often juggle many individual clients or to oversee multiple programs.

If this describes you, then the next step may be a degree in social work! Some of the classes in this psychology-related major may include: Social Policy, Human Behavior, Research Methods, Statistics or Substance Abuse.  It is not uncommon for colleges to incorporate fieldwork or a practicum before graduation so as to provide more hands-on learning.

Social work is a broad degree with many different career outcomes. Some future possibilities include:

  • Child Welfare. This specialization allows you to work directly with families and to steer individuals into services most needed for their unique circumstances. It may involve assessments regarding the safety of children or the execution of necessary protective interventions. Social services are offered through the government as well as through private organizations.
  • Medical/Public Health. Due to an aging population and the demand for healthcare services, the need for social work in this area is rising dramatically. In fact, a surprising 75% of social workers today work with older adults in some capacity. Advocacy is needed for veterans, the poor and aging unemployed, adults with disabilities or individuals requiring hospice. Many social workers are finding jobs in rehab centers, hospitals, assisted living facilities and medical clinics, just to name a few.
  • Guidance Counselors. This is a popular route that enables you to enter the school system and focus on issues such as substance abuse, mental health, bullying, and family conflict. Often it entails creating and carrying out crisis intervention plans. Most recently, guidance counselors have expanded their role to, at times, tackle education-related issues like immigration and social media. In addition, a big piece of this job involves guiding students in their educational and vocational planning.
  • Substance Abuse/Addictions Counselor. Whether in metal health clinics, detention centers, prisons or rehab centers, social workers with this specialization can be found assessing clients, creating treatment plans and conducting appropriate follow-up with those using their services.

Ready to fight social injustice? A career in social work might be wonderfully compatible for someone desiring to integra