Social work is something a lot of people consider when they’re planning a career – or when their parents are helping to plan it with them. The need for social work means you can feel assured when you start your studies there’ll be a job at the end of it. And that that job, though it’s stressful and busy and often under resourced, is extremely valuable to society. You will be making a difference.
Today we’ll be looking at several different kinds of social work jobs to give you a clearer idea of what a career in social work might look like.
Child Protection Social Worker
This is perhaps what most people think of when they picture a social worker: visiting families and ensuring children are safe and looked after in their home. Actual intervention is always a last resort though: the popular (or indeed unpopular) image of social workers taking a child away from their parents is very much not a preferred course of action.
As a Child Protection worker, you’ll visit the families assigned to you regularly. Providing a point of stability and routine is as important as any of specialist knowledge and skills you have. You can recommend techniques to help parents cope when the situation is overwhelming them, and also connect them with resources they need to help improve the situation, whether that’s helping them make doctors appointments to deal with illness or find childcare options that are affordable and work for them.
It’s a challenging job, and involves as much accepting what you can’t do as actually doing thing: all you can do is influence. You can’t move in and make changes to a family, however invested you are, however much you care. One of the key, untalked about skills, unlike empathy, respect and the ability to listen, is drawing boundaries between your work and life to allow you let go when clinging on what be unhealthy.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
This another social work job where one of your main roles is providing a point of continuity for people who need it most. Establishing a pattern of regular meetings for people attempting or in recovery from addiction is vital: it allows them to set goals and feed back to someone about it, and also provides someone in their lives who might notice the sort of altered behaviour that anticipates a relapse.
You can help people connect with services to aid their recovery, reduce the sense of isolation addiction often creates, and talk through plans for the future to help them build a life. Dealing with adults, many of whom urgently want to engage and build structures to help regulate their lives, this is a very rewarding form of social work.