Social work

Social work is an academic discipline and practice-based profession that concerns itself with individuals, families, groups, communities and society as a whole in an effort to meet basic needs and enhance social functioning, self-determination, collective responsibility, and overall well-being. Social functioning is defined as the ability of an individual to perform their social roles within their own self, their immediate social environment, and the society at large. Social work applies social sciences, such as sociology, psychology, political science, public health, community development, law, and economics, to engage with client systems, conduct assessments, and develop interventions to solve social problems, personal problems, and bring about social change. Social work practice is often divided into micro-work, which involves working directly with individuals or small groups; and macro-work, which involves working with communities, and fostering change on a larger scale through social policy.

Social work
A social worker providing public assistance to a family
Occupation
NamesLicensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Master Social Worker, Licensed Advanced Practicing Social Worker, Registered Social Worker
Activity sectors
Social welfare, social services, government, health, public health, mental health, occupational safety and health, community organization, non-profit, law, corporate social responsibility, human rights
Description
CompetenciesImproving the social environment and well-being of people by facilitating, and developing resources
Education required
Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Social Work, Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSc) or a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work (PGDipSW) for general practice; Master of Social Work (MSW), Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) for clinical practice; Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) or Professional Doctorate (ProfD or DProf) for or specialized practice; Accredited educational institution; Registration and licensing differs depending on state
Fields of
employment
Child and women protection services, non-profit organizations, government agencies, disadvantaged groups centers, hospitals, schools, churches, shelters, community agencies, social planning services, think tanks, correctional services, labor and industry services

The social work industry developed in the 19th century, with some of its roots in voluntary philanthropy and in grassroots organizing. However, responses to social needs had existed long before then, primarily from public almshouses, private charities and religious organizations. The effects of the Industrial Revolution and of the Great Depression of the 1930s placed pressure on social work to become a more defined discipline.

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