A social service worker wears many hats, but it would not be wrong to say that the main significant task of a social service worker is to make what is broken whole again. It might be a family dealing with domestic violence or homelessness, a client suffering from substance abuse disorder, or a patient dealing with mental health issues.
These are all complex problems, and social workers are not equipped to deal with all of that without support. However, they are the frontliners in dealing with these issues, and are often the familiar faces that clients and patients turn to for comfort and help.
Social workers help clients cope with problems and improve their lives. It may be through teaching coping mechanisms and skills to improve self-development, or referring them to the right agencies and professionals for expert help. They have to liaise with different agencies in order to do their job. Knowing which one is most likely to help the client, and when to combine them, is the result of extensive training and knowledge of an effective social worker.
What are their skills?
Social workers need to have a collection of skills to address the problems they face with different clients. It is not enough for social workers to be kind, they also need to know how to manage cases in the best interests of their clients. As a result, a social worker has to go through comprehensive training that often results in a diploma or degree in social work to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge. These include:
- Active listening. This is harder than it sounds. It takes training to listen to a client, ask the right questions, and comprehend the nuances and context of the conversation to make a proper assessment.
- Social perceptiveness. The ability to detect reactions and understand what is behind them is a key factor in effective social work.
- Effective communication. It is often hard to be objective when conversing with others. A social worker trains to be effective communicators when dealing with clients, especially when the problem at hand is complex and involves other people.
- Critical thinking. Social workers often have to use logic and reason to pinpoint the pros and cons of particular solutions or approaches as it applies to a given situation.
- Coordination. Social workers have to be ready to adjust their actions in response to what others do at any given time.
- Reading comprehension. Social workers read copious amounts of reports and documents, so they need the ability to understand quickly what they are reading.
- Writing skills. Similarly, social workers also have to write reports, so they have to develop the ability to convey their thoughts and ideas clearly and comprehensively in written form.
- Service orientation. Social workers need to develop the habit of always looking for diverse ways of helping people.
- Complex problem-solving. Social workers routinely deal with complex problems, so it is important that they can classify them in the correct context in order to make a valid assessment, find, and implement the right options and solutions.
- Judgment and decision-making. Because they deal with complex problems, there is often no one way to solve them. Social workers have to judge the situation, make a risk-benefit analysis of all possible options and solutions, and decide on the right ones to apply to a specific situation.
These skills do not come easily. Social workers often require a lot of study, instruction, and hands-on experience to obtain these skills before going out into the field. A kind and compassionate nature is a start, but it is not enough.
It takes a good foundation in many fields of study such as communication, psychology, psychiatry, physiology, and biology to successfully carry out the significant task of a social service worker of making what is broken whole again.
Start a career as a social service worker by browsing through MSM Unify’s Social Work courses.