Social Work Therapist Career

Overview

The career of a social work therapist is rewarding and challenging. Social work is an exciting and rewarding career that is often linked with psychology. Many people work in the field of social therapy by first earning an undergraduate degree in social work, and then moving on to graduate school, where they can receive a master’s program education.

What are the Responsibilities of a Social Work Therapist?

Social work therapists help people address problems they may have in their ordinary lives. Social workers also have the ability to diagnose and treat many issues including mental health, behavioral and emotional problems that people have. Among the primary job responsibilities of social workers include:

  1. Identifying people and individuals that require help in complex social situations.
  2. Assessing clients’ needs, strength, and familial situation. This may include assessing support networks or working with clients to determine their goals.
  3. Working with clients to help them adjust to challenges that they are faced with in their life; these may include finding child care, researching healthcare options, assisting clients in gaining food stamps or other social support services.
  4. Helping clients respond to crises that occur.
  5. Advocating for clients and assisting them in finding critical resources to improve their lives and wellness.
  6. Evaluating what services a client may utilize to better their life and circumstance.

There are many different subs-pecialties of social work. The specialty that a social worker engages in will determine part of their work functions. Some examples of specialties include the following:

  1. Child and family workers. These social workers emphasize working with children and families that require help and assistance. They may work on discovering child care, benefits, and assist children of families that may have been subject to abuse or neglect.
  2. Clinical. Clinical social workers, often referred to as licensed social workers, work to treat mental health, emotional and behavioral health issues that clients face. They may work to establish goals and treatment plans in conjunction with other healthcare providers.
  3. Medical. These social workers often work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, and may provide support that includes working with hospital staff to create discharge plans or creating support for a client that has health problems.
  4. Mental Health. Many social workers work in mental health therapy, providing information to clients on the various support groups, services and other agencies that are available to overcome and cope with mental health disorders.

What are the Requirements to Become a Social Work Therapist?

Education

Social workers often need a minimum of a bachelor degree to work in the field, although many places will only hire a social worker that has a master degree. Some hospitals and state agencies may also ask for two years of post-master experience working in a clinical environment. A social worker will also need a license in the state that they work in. A social worker is required to successfully complete at least 3,000 hours of clinical supervision and pass the licensure exam to be classified as a licensed social worker.

A master degree in social work, or MSW can prepare a social worker to work in their field of specialty, developing important skills that include clinical supervisory skills. Typically students engaged in a master program for social work will need to take on a supervised internship or practicum.

Skills and Qualities

To be successful in the field, social workers often have many characteristics and skills that set them apart from other professions. Among the more common skills and characteristics that agencies look for when hiring social workers include the following:

  1. Compassion and Empathy. A social worker often works with people that are in stressful and often very trying situations and conditions. To help a social worker develop strong relationships with clients, a social worker will demonstrate empathy for their client’s situation and compassion.
  2. Listening Ability. A social worker must have the ability to carefully listen to and understand their client’s needs. Most people that work with social workers will spend time talking to a social worker, telling them about their situation, problems and struggles.
  3. Organizational Skills. A social worker requires organizational skills to manage the large volumes of paperwork that come with treating clients and taking on cases.
  4. Problem-Solving. Many problems face the clients that social workers interact with on a daily basis. To best address these problems, a social worker will need to have the ability to overcome complex problems using creative and innovative methods.

In addition to these primary skills, social workers with excellent interpersonal skills, or the ability to work with diverse groups of people, will excel in the field. By interacting with people in creative and exciting ways a social worker has the ability to foster rewarding relationships with the clients and peers an individual works with.

How Much Does a Social Work Therapist Make?

The work environment for most social workers varies, and may include working in hospitals, private healthcare practices, child welfare and human services organizations, mental health facilities and educational institutions. The median annual wage for social workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2014 was $58,410.

What is the Employment Outlook for Social Work Therapists?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for social workers is expected to grow well, faster than other occupations at 19 percent. Employment will come from many sources including an increased demand for specialty healthcare and social services. Similar occupations that are doing well include psychologists, rehabilitation counselors, health educators and community health workers.

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