Social workers help provide solutions to the problems of underprivileged, marginalized, or vulnerable groups of people. They work with individuals from diverse communities and various backgrounds in different settings like schools, mental health clinics, hospitals, settlement houses, private practices, and more. Social work is a rewarding career but, it also has challenges like working full time even, on weekends, holidays, and in the evenings. Social work is a growing profession because the older generation is retiring, and the younger generation often switches careers after a few years in social work. Therefore, more competent social workers are required. Misconceptions about Social Workers-
After completing their bachelor’s, social workers often pursue advanced degrees to broaden their career prospects. Apart from education, students also gain experience through mandatory internships during a master’s degree. Moreover, students are also empowered to develop several crucial skills like communication, critical thinking, organizational advocacy, and professional commitment during their degree.
Social workers working full time have the option to either pursue masters in social work online or part-time to upgrade their skills, education level, and career.
According to the bureau of labor statistics, this profession is expected to grow by 12% in the upcoming decade with an average of 715,600 job openings per year. However, despite the popularity of social work, a lot of myths and misconceptions also surround this profession. Let’s discuss some common misconceptions about social workers.
1. Social Workers Only Work With the Poor
Social workers are often seen as charity workers primarily focused on helping poor people. Though the beginning of social work was rooted in helping people who lived in poverty, modern social work is focused on providing services to individuals from all backgrounds irrespective of their age, religion, socio-economic status, and ethnicity. Social workers deal with clients from all communities and solve their particular issues.
2. Social Workers Can’t Be Specialist
Social work is often viewed as a general field where a social worker can perform all duties and can deal with all sorts of issues single-handedly. However, it is not true, and social work degrees offer a variety of specializations. They can work in the following different roles;
- Some social workers work with families and assist them in improving their kids’ lives.
- Some social workers work with adoption agencies to help abused or neglected children.
- Some social workers are appointed in schools to help teachers deal with troubled children and guide students through truancy, teen pregnancy, addiction, and more.
- Some social workers are specialized in working with elderly patients.
- Some social workers act as a liaison between the government and their clients.
All in all, social workers choose specific specializations of their interest and continuously work to improve their skills that are crucial for their specialization.
3. Social Workers Are Often Depressed
The nature of the work means social workers are always dealing with other people’s problems. They help solve the issues of vulnerable and oppressed communities. Listening to the stories of their clients can be depressing. However, having the ability to help people solve their problems and relieve them of their struggles can also be rewarding. They empower people to recognize their own strengths and feel proud when their clients achieve small victories on their own. Therefore, social workers are not depressed all the time. They are even given special training to manage sadness, stress, and other negative emotions.
4. Social Workers Perform Dangerous Jobs
It is a common fear of many people that since social workers deal with marginalized communities, they are more at risk of being the target of aggression and frustration from the people of these communities. Moreover, unstable situations and disadvantaged backgrounds can make people aggressive, and such clients can threaten the social workers.
However, such cases occur rarely, and social workers are provided with adequate protection to deal with any mishap. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) also provides a safety training program and has various policies to ensure the safety of the social workers.
5. Social Workers Are Not Paid Enough
Social workers are not volunteers and are true professionals with years of education and experience. The salaries of social workers can vary based on their education, location, and specialization.
Although, some specializations like individual and family service providers earn a lower salary than social workers specialized in working in an elementary or secondary school.
6. Social Workers Only Need a Kind Heart to Excel in Their Career
While a kind heart does take you a long way, social work requires more than compassion. Social work can be stressful thus, social workers must have specific skills to handle all sorts of situations. Social workers are leaders and are qualified professionals who help people improve their lives. They provide counseling services, assess clients’ abilities, and offer advice on available resources.
They also monitor and evaluate client success to ensure the effectiveness of their methods. Natural compassion and empathy along with excellent listening skills, time management skills, and problem-solving skills make a competent social worker.
7. Social Workers Only Work For the Government
Social workers work in a lot of settings like schools, hospitals, police departments, adoption agencies, shelters, and centers of mental health. Less than 3% of social workers have jobs in federal agencies.
The majority of federal and state employees that work in social services like welfare aren’t always social workers.
8. A Sociology Degree Qualifies You for Social Work
Sociology and social work degrees are different. Sociologists study the structure and functioning of human society whereas, social workers find resources to help combat societal problems. A sociology degree can benefit aspiring social workers but, it does not qualify you to become one.
9. Social Workers Take Your Children Away
Social workers assist at-risk children and families access resources that can help. Social workers often decide to shift children to better care homes or welfare centers to provide them with quality housing and food. That is why people may believe that social workers take your kids away but, they only ensure the well-being of the children.
The Bottom Line
Social workers perform a crucial role in society. They perform a difficult but rewarding job of helping people in need. Several misconceptions and myths are associated with social workers. However, not all of them are true. The common misconceptions about social workers have been discussed in the above article. Hopefully, this article will help you understand the various myths regarding social workers.