What is Social Work?
Social work is a profession concerned with helping
individuals, families, groups and communities to enhance their individual and
collective well-being. It aims at helping them develop their skills and the
ability to use their own resources and those of the community to resolve
problems. Social work is concerned with individual and personal problems but
also with broader social issues such as poverty, unemployment and domestic
In a socio-political-economic context which increasingly
generates insecurity and social tensions, social workers play an important and
Where Do Social Workers Work?
Social workers work in a variety of settings: family services
agencies, children's aid agencies, general and psychiatric hospitals, school
boards, correctional institutions, welfare administration agencies, federal and
provincial departments. An increasing number of social workers work in private
What Do Social Workers Do?
Social workers provide services as members of a
multidisciplinary team or on one-to-one basis with the client. The duties
performed by social workers vary depending on the settings in which they work.
Social workers investigate cases of family violence, child
abuse and neglect and take protective action as required. They may recruit
foster parents or supervise the placement of children in protective care. Others
work on adoption cases.
Many school boards hire social workers to help students adjust
to the school environment. They help students, parents and teachers to deal with
problems such as aggressive behaviour, truancy and family problems which affect
the students' performance.
In general and psychiatric hospitals, social workers are
members of the treatment team. They provide a link between the team and the
family as well as with community resources. In these settings they contribute to
the care, treatment and rehabilitation of the aged, the physically or mentally
ill individuals, and the care of disabled persons.
In health and community services centres, social workers are
involved in the provision of counseling to individuals or families and in
providing services to seniors. Some work as community developers helping
citizens to identify their needs and proposing ways of meeting these needs.
Others may assist with parent-child relationships and marriage counseling. The
services may be offered on an individual basis or in groups.
In the correctional field, social workers may be part of a
team concerned with the social rehabilitation of young or adult offenders. They
may work as classification officers. Others work as probation officers or as
parole officers. Parole officers help ex-prisoners adjust to life in the
community while conforming to the conditions of their parole.
Social workers in private practice offer their services on a
fee-for-service basis to individuals, families and organizations. Their services
include counseling, psychotherapy, mediation, sex therapy, policy and program
development, organizational development, employee assistance program, and other
Social workers involved in policy analysis, policy development
and planning are usually working in federal and provincial departments or social
planning councils. Researchers are found in universities and governments. Others
are teaching in universities and community colleges.
Employment opportunities in Social Work do exist. The
situation changes from province to province. It appears that there are more jobs
for trained social workers in communities outside large urban areas and in
smaller social services organizations.
Most social workers work full-time although it is possible to
work part-time. Recent graduates in social work practice under supervision for
administrative and professional development purposes. Many employers offer staff
development training. Social workers providing direct services spend most of
their time with clients in their offices or in the client's home. They also
spend time in consultation with other professionals such as psychologists,
teachers, physicians, lawyers or other persons concerned in a specific case.
Social work education consists of theoretical courses and
practical training at the undergraduate or graduate level.
The bachelor of social work is the minimum educational
requirement for entry into the profession. Postgraduate education leading to a
master or doctoral degree is also available.
A three to four year undergraduate program is required for a
bachelor degree. Persons who have a bachelor of social work degree may obtain a
master's degree after one year of postgraduate studies. Those who have a degree
in another discipline would require a two year postgraduate program in social
work to obtain the master's degree in social work.
Most social work programs are accredited by the Canadian
Association of Schools of Social Work. This association publishes a directory of
accredited programs. As admission requirements and program orientation vary
between schools, interested persons should consult the directory or communicate
with the school of their choice.
As a preparation at the secondary school level, courses in
sociology, psychology and philosophy are useful. Voluntary work in a social
service agency is a plus.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Canadian Association of Social Workers
383 Parkdale Avenue, Suite 402
Ottawa, ON K1Y 4R4
Phone: (613) 729-6668 FAX: (613) 729-9608
Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (CASSW)
383 Parkdale Avenue, Suite 410
Ottawa, ON K1Y 4R4
Phone: (613) 792-1953 FAX: (613) 792-1956
web site: www.cassw-acess.ca