March is Social Work Month, and today’s post was inspired by a comment left on the article “I am Getting in MSW, but I Do Not Want to be a ‘Social Worker‘” on the Social Work Helper. The comment reads:
“Although trained to think in a multi-systemic way, many of us choose to specialize. I do a great deal of mezzo and macro work; however, I chose to concentrate on clinical practice when completing my master’s in social work…Outside of our profession, there are some practitioners who do not understand what social work is. When I’ve testified on legislation and engaged in policy making, people assume I don’t have the skills necessary because I am not a lawyer or didn’t major in criminal justice. I can’t help but wonder then if this is why some social workers impose practice goals and assumptions on others (or upon students) as a part of assuaging the anxiety produced by how our profession–as a whole–is undervalued and misunderstood by society.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. The profession is expected to grow by 19% between 2012 and 2022, and more than 650,000 people currently hold social work degrees. If you’re not in the profession, chances are you know someone who currently is or who currently studying to enter the field. And there are some common misconceptions about the field. The biggest misconception about social workers is that they only work with individuals and families, provide therapeutic counseling or link clients to programs and services via case management, or that our days only look like Mrs. Weiss’.
The foundation of social work rests on social justice, with social workers like Jane Addams in the late 1880s dedicating their career to taking action against the injustices of sexism, racism, classism and poverty, taking the approach of addressing these through research, reform, and building up urban areas.