Social Work

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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

A future in Social Work

By Jennifer Bailey

Social work is an impactful career area as is related to the field of psychology. If you are looking for a career that is rewarding, yet challenging, and you want to contribute to society by helping people overcome hard things and improve lives, then a career in the field of social work could be just for you! Many people who work in this realm start by earning an undergraduate degree before moving on to graduate school. Doctorate programs are also available if that is your long-term goal.

This field uses social theories to understand human issues and then finds ways to help improve people's lives and society as a whole. It is interdisciplinary, which means that it draws on theories and practices from many areas of study including sociology, anthropology, psychology, politics and even economics.

Many who are in social work specialize in particular areas; like helping children and are passionate about helping those with life-threatening issues such as addiction or those with disabilities, diseases or social issues like unemployment. They are also responsible for helping people with everyday things that impact their daily lives including personal, family and relationship issues that are often very dysfunctional and destructive. Families with domestic conflicts can also turn to social workers for relief and guidance during difficult times.  The bottom line is that Social Workers are mental health professionals who help people with a broad range of issues, including psychological, financial, health, relationship and substance abuse problems.

As a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work, you can expect courses in social work practice, issues in social welfare, history and philosophy of social welfare, diversity and the struggle for human rights, promotion of social and economic justice, social welfare policy, social work practice, social research methods and human behavior theory. You may also take electives such as psychological studies, cultural anthropology, sociology and biology.

Generally, you will participate in field assignments and/or internships, which provide a great hands on experience within a human service agency such as a child welfare agency, community center, detention center, domestic violence agency, medical and psychiatric hospital, school, nursing home, mental health clinic, youth service agency, substance abuse clinic or residential treatment facility.

Of course, there are the traditional places you may think this career would take you such as in a social services office that deals with domestic issues including child welfare cases; however, here are a few out of the box ideas of where you might also use this degree: Adoption agencies, prison and correctional facilities, police departments, Head Start clinics, hospice organizations, school districts and even Veteran agencies.

It would be most helpful for someone interested in the social work field to be naturally drawn to the idea of being an advocate for others, enjoys teaching people new skills, are a natural problem solver, enjoy doing research, are comfortable networking in a community, likes to counsel others and takes pride in good follow through.

The outlook in the field is very promising as The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that social work careers are expected to grow faster than the average over the next ten years. While it is predicted employment opportunities in urban areas will be more competitive, the Department of Labor suggests that job demand will also be good in rural locations.