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10 Functions of a Professional Social Worker

When you need someone to be on your side, you can count on a social worker. There are a number of career paths in social work, and most of them involve helping others, or advocating on behalf of others. If you’re passionate about helping to make the difference in people’s lives, a career in social work might be for you.

There are many things that social workers do in order to help others, and it is a great and rewarding career choice. It’s a great feeling when your professional functions allow you the satisfaction of helping others. As you consider a career in social work, here are 10 of the great functions of professional social workers.

1. Help Children

There are social workers whose job it is to protect and help children. Sometimes, social workers help children find good foster homes. Social workers can help remove children from destructive homes, and help them acclimate to their new homes. Social workers also evaluate foster parents to try to ensure that children are truly in a better environment.

Social workers don’t just help children in difficult family situations, though. They are also responsible for helping children overcome bullying, as well as deal with shyness, and work on strategies for improving concentration in school.

2. Help Parents

Child and family social workers don’t just help children; they can also help parents. Sometimes, parents just need help with their parenting styles, or with finding strategies to deal with difficult children. Some social workers are trained to help with better parenting. This can include the development of emotional skills, as well as more physical skills, such as diapering, providing proper nutrition and other items of care.

3. Help Teachers and School Administrators

Sometimes, it can be difficult to handle disruptive students, or know how to serve students with learning disabilities. Social workers can help teachers and administrators learn techniques and strategies to better understand and work with certain students. This not only helps teachers and administrators, but it also helps the students as well. Once teachers and administrators, with help from social workers, learn how to better serve their students, things can move more smoothly.

4. Help the Elderly and their Caregivers

Social workers also provide support to the elderly. A social worker can provide references to different organizations and services, as well as help senior citizens navigate Medicare. Additionally, social workers can provide emotional support to caregivers. Many caregivers occasionally need relief and help, and social workers can help ease the burdens, as well as point caregivers to resources that can help them get the support they need.

Social workers can also visit the elderly, and make sure that they aren’t being abused, and evaluate their living conditions. This includes nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

5. Teach Life Skills

Another function of some professional social workers is to teach life skills. Social workers teach nutrition information as well as budgeting. They can also help teach household management skills, and provide references for career services. Many social workers are able to help impart skills and knowledge to clients who need help. Whether they are teenagers, immigrants new to the country, victims of car accidents or head injury, or those with learning disabilities.

6. Talk Therapy

Sometimes, social workers can help with clinical functions. Indeed, social workers are often involved in talk therapy. This can be a way for those who are disturbed by upset feelings, or who have been through a traumatic experience, work through their worries. Social workers are often trained to listen and provide help. Those suffering from anxiety, depression and anger issues can sometimes benefit from talk therapy with a social worker. Social workers can also facilitate group therapy sessions, and provide support for those going through a difficult time.

7. Provide Referrals and Access to Community Resources

There are usually plenty of referrals and community resources that can help you, no matter what you are going through. Whether you are going through a divorce, fleeing an abusive relationship, or just trying to find a job, social workers can provide you with referrals for community resources. Social workers are plugged in to different options, and may even have relationships with various professionals in the community. Additionally, there might be some community resources that you can’t get access to without a referral from a social worker. Meeting with a social worker can help you get access to what you need.

8. Substance Abuse Counseling

In some cases, a social worker can help with substance abuse counseling. One of the functions of a social worker is to help those with addictions work through them. There are different techniques that can be used by social workers to help control addictions — or just provide support. Also, social workers can counsel with the family members of those with substance abuse problems, and help them resolve some of their own problems and issues. Social workers can also help family and friends learn to provide support to those working through addictions, providing a support system as need.

9. Research and Starting Programs

Some social workers are involved in research. They look for information about people in the community as well as look for patterns in data about different populations. They may also research different conditions, and strive to learn more about the newest techniques for counseling and helping people. Other social workers may put that research to use, starting programs meant to help different populations, and be of benefit to the community. After school programs, education programs and other social benefit programs may be started and overseen by social workers.

10. Community Education

A social worker might also be involved in community education. In fact, many of them are involved in such efforts. Community education efforts might include visting schools to speak at assemblies about the dangers of substance abuse, or how to stand up to bullies. Social workers might also be involved at health clinics, providing educational services and resources to patients as part of treatment. They can be part of community outreach programs, as well as take the lead in a number of other education efforts in schools, community centers, business centers and other organizations.