The social work profession promotes social change, problem-solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Social work is primarily developmental work, wherein a group of people or a community work for some common cause that is related to the welfare of a person, state, country or community. Social work is a combination of art and science to bring in some effective changes in society for the welfare of humanity. Social workers basically enable or help people to fight for their rights. Social work is basically a professional as well as an academic discipline that works selflessly to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of an individual, group, or community.
The main emphasis of social workers is generally focused on areas such as human development, social policy, public administration, psychotherapy, program evaluation, and international and community development. Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the point where people interact with their environments. Social service is not restricted to a particular place, country or community. Social workers are organized into local, national, continental and international professional bodies and they all work in accordingly in their respective fields and areas for a good cause.
The main fundamentals of social service include in principles of human rights and social justice. Professional social workers work for the development related to these fields of human rights and social justice and their main tasks involve in case management (linking clients with agencies and programs that will meet their psychosocial needs), medical social work, counselling (psychotherapy), human services management, social welfare policy analysis, community organizing, advocacy, teaching (in schools of social work), and social science research.
History of Social Work
Historically, social work was carried out by people who volunteered their service for the service of mankind. The concept of charity goes back to ancient times, and the practice of providing for the poor has roots in many major ancient civilizations and world religions. Today with the rapid modernization and advancement, social problems have become more complex and social work needs in some professional people with skills and desire to bring about a change. Whereas social work started on a more scientific footing aimed at controlling and reforming individuals, it has in more recent times adopted a more critical and holistic approach to understanding and intervening in social problems.
Social work has its roots in the social and economic upheaval brought by the Industrial Revolution way back years ago, which particularly started with the struggle of society to deal with poverty and its resultant problems. Since the only focus of social work at that time was aimed at dealing with poverty, it was intricately linked with the idea of charity work during earlier those times. But today it is well classified in much broader terms. Today there is a clear classification between social work and charity work. Whereas charity is only aimed at providing some basic facilities to the poor or needy people, the social work is aimed at bringing a change in the society, a change for human betterment. Modern social workers can be found helping to deal with the consequences of these and many other social maladies in all areas of the human services professions and in many other fields besides.
Career Options in the Field of Social Work
Social work as already told is not restricted to a particular state or a community; social workers have a number of professional associations, which provide ethical guidance and other forms of support for their members and for social work in general. These social workers work as a group for solving problems of the people who fail to seek any help from the government means. These associations can be international, continental or semi-continental, national, and regional. The main international associations are the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW). These organizations work in different areas like medical help in the times of war or epidemic, children welfare, labour welfare or some other important issues related to common man. Social service can be termed as service working for the developmental process of a particular area where the government authorities failed to perform. The main areas where social workers are involved include:
Community Development: Social workers with specialization work in administrative as well as management fields volunteer in to bring about a community development, human development, and resource development. These mainly concentrate on the community development both the rural as well as the urban community. Professional social workers work in a variety of settings, including non-profit or public social service agencies, grassroots advocacy organizations, hospitals, hospices, community health agencies, schools, faith-based organizations, and even the military. These work for promoting awareness of the rights of the citizens and also the various government projects aimed at benefitting the general class. Professionals from any field passionate about improving the lives of others can enter into this sector and work for their community and country as well.
Healthcare and Medicine: Social workers also help in the clinical setting and also run in several charitable hospitals and clinics aimed at providing free or affordable treatment for everyone. Social workers also contribute to the preventive and promoting rallies to promote various aspects of health care and also to bring about awareness about some common and life-threatening diseases like AIDS, malaria, and TB etc. providing for special schools where handicapped and children with disabilities enrol in is yet another function of these social work organizations. Educating drug addicts, organizing anti-smoking campaigns and rallies against the health effecting programs includes in some sincere effort form these people.
Family and Child Welfare: Specialist form medical fields provide some useful service for child and family welfare. There are many diseases related to children that can be life-threatening. These medical representatives organize free camps for the check-up and spreading awareness among deprived masses that do not get enough facilities. Major organization working for child welfare is UNICEF (United Nation International Children Emergency Funds) that works in area of child development and is constantly working in countries all around the globe for irradicating many diseases like polio, chicken pox, and smallpox etc. these have been constantly campaigning to aware the masses against malnutrition in children that may retard growth of children or may even lead to some serious health complications.
Service at the Time of War and Crises: Disasters can be natural or man-made. Natural disasters may include some calamities like floods, earthquake, draught etc. On the other hand war, bombardments and industrial accidents or fire may be termed as man-made. In the case of these tragedies, various social organizations are always there to help in search and rescue operation. Besides helping in rescue operations these also help in providing food and Medicare facilities at the site of action. Social workers help voluntarily to set up relief camps and organize community kitchens in the case some calamities and help in recreation also.
Work of a Professional Social Worker
The social service sector is all about special individuals who believe in themselves to truly make a difference in society and bring about some social and cultural reforms for the betterment. A social worker must possess passion, leadership and the ability to think out-of-the-box to face challenges and come with bold and innovative ideas to fight back challenges. Apart from these a social worker has to be ready to work in the time of crisis and calamities without fearing for their own life. Above all, these qualities must be balanced by compassion, empathy and a willingness to make a positive change to the community. If someone wants a profession that is truly rewarding and meaningful, with a feeling of doing something really important and respectful, then social sector have ample career opportunities.
A career in social services can give you an important role in another person's life. One has a direct interaction with people and their grievances. Social service workers empower people who use social services, assisting them to make informed choices which will improve their lives. They make difficult decisions and at times enforce the law. Also sometimes there is a need for some protest or demonstration. A social worker should always be ready to fight for the right cause. An important task of a social worker is to prevent problems from getting worse and find an outright solution at the right time without much delay or hassle.
The task of a social worker is manifold and they generally help out people in need with their professional approach towards problem-solving. They deal with problems related to a social sphere that includes families, children, the crime against woman and child, those with mental disability and other people seeking help. Work includes a mixture of counselling, discussion, problem-solving and some strict steps if needed.
There are many different jobs within social services that require a range of professional and personal skills. One can choose to work in social care, early education, and child care or as a social worker. Individuals can work with a variety of people in the private, local authority or voluntary sector. This includes children and families, older adults, people with mental health problems, youth services, criminal justice services etc.
Qualifications for Professional Social Work
Some people with no formal training have engaged in the field of social help, however, these days complexities of the problem are rising along with various legal hassles and policies. These days it has become important for social workers to have some normal levels of literacy and education to give him enough knowledge and confidence to understand the problem well and act accordingly keeping in mind various constitutional ways of dealing with the problem.
The education of social workers begins with a Bachelor's degree (BA, BSc, BSSW, BSW, etc.) or a diploma in Social Work. There are various requirements that a candidate needs to fill in before entering into social sector these days. These requirements may vary from region to region and type of social sector one choose to enter in. Some countries offer Postgraduate degrees in Social Work, like master's (such as MSW, MSS, MA, MSc, MRes, MPhil etc.) or doctoral studies (such as PhD and DSW (Doctor of Social Work)). More and more graduates of social work continue to post-doctoral studies. Some argue that social work education is a lifelong process and one continues to learn as he works in the related field.
A number of countries and jurisdictions require registration or licensure of people working as social workers, and there are mandated qualifications that the workers need to fulfil before entering into the field of social work. In some places, a professional association sets academic requirements for admission to membership. The success of these professional bodies' efforts is demonstrated in that these same requirements are recognized by employers as necessary for employment. Without a particular education level, it becomes really hard for a person to distinguish between the right and wrong and may sometimes take into account some un-constitutional means to get the work done. Hence it is important to possess certain educational levels. Also, it is important for those entering into medical work or medical help to have prior experience of working in camps and at the time of some emergency.
Rewards of Entering Social Sector
Though the rewards that one receives serving the mankind are far more than big pay-checks, still a feeling of doing something for community and mankind overpowers all the other joys of the world. The respect that one gets is priceless. No one can buy the tremendous amount of happiness and satisfaction that one achieves working for the community. Job satisfaction comes from helping people in distress and working for a cause towards human betterment. The profession of social work was not very paying, but these days one can get some good remunerations and recognition for some hones and quality work in the field of social development.