What do social workers do? Social workers provide services to help people cope with and overcome challenges in their every life. Social workers can work with many populations, including children, the elderly, those with developmental disabilities, and individuals battling addiction. However, most specialize in a particular population or setting.
Direct-service social workers assist people in coping and solving problems or transitions in their life, such as adopting a child, death of a loved one, or being diagnosed with a terminal disease. On the other hand, clinical social workers are licensed to treat behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders, like anxiety and depression.
Direct-Service Social Worker Duties:
- Assess clients’ situations, needs, and strengths in order to establish clear goals
- Develop strategies to help the client cope and improve their overall well-being
- Assist clients in adjusting to new transitions and challenges, such as medical illness, unemployment, or divorce
- Compile resources for the client to use and refer them to support groups
- Advocate for clients to receive basic needs through food stamps, child care, or Medicare
- Respond to emergency or crisis circumstances like child abuse and natural disasters
- Maintain records of progress and services provided to ensure that the client has effectively improved their situation
Clinical Social Worker Duties:
- Diagnose and treat various mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders
- Assess clients’ medical histories, mental health histories, and backgrounds to gain a deep understanding of their needs from treatment
- Develop a plan for treatment along with input from the client, physicians, and other members of the healthcare professional team
- Encourage clients to open up about their experiences to discuss their feelings
- Provide therapy techniques for individuals, groups, couples, or whole families
- Refer clients to other services to improve their well-being, including support groups, psychiatrists, or other mental health professionals
- Evaluate the clients’ progress and make any necessary treatment changes to better results
Although the social worker job description differs, both types can work in many of the same employment settings. Social workers typically find employment in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, substance abuse clinics, private practices, and mental health clinics. School social workers work with school administrators, teachers, and parents to develop strategies to help students improve their academic performance or social development. Those that work in child and family services protect vulnerable children that are in danger of neglect or abuse, and families that are suffering financially or going through a divorce. Substance abuse social workers help clients cope with their addiction and co-occurring illnesses for recovery.