If I were to ask you what a social worker does or where they work, what would your answer be? Maybe it would be that we work for CPS and are in the business of removing children from parents on a regular basis. Well, this is wrong. Unfortunately, so many people have no idea what a social worker does; they can only assume we work with child and family welfare services.
Knowing someone afflicted with a mental health disorder or having experienced one is generally what leads us to clinical social work. There is a compassion for people and a desire to help that is very prevalent in the social work field. Would it surprise you to find out that your therapist may be a social worker? As therapist, our work can be extremely draining- emotionally, physically, and mentally- but we love what we do and wouldn’t change it for the world.
So who is a social worker, and how do you become one? Someone with bachelor’s degree in social work has the option of working in many entry-level positions in social services. Continuing on to graduate school opens the doors for much more opportunity and experience. After completing an accredited graduate program, there is a state licensing exam required to be a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW). There are a few other licenses, but they’re not required. In Texas, to have a title with the words social work in it requires that individual be licensed. That makes sense, right? You can’t call yourself a doctor or a lawyer if you’re not licensed.
So, back to CPS. Yes, some social workers work in Child Protective Services. However, you don’t have to be a social worker to work there. Yet the myth that all we do is remove children from their families still haunts the social work profession. Yes, advocacy work is a huge part of the social work field. Being that voice for someone who may not have it, someone who doesn’t have the information, or someone who doesn’t know where to start is important. This work trickles into all of the jobs we can do: school social work, medical social work, clinical social work, policy work, substance abuse. And this is just a few of the areas we work in; we get to wear many different hats!
In a clinical setting we advocate for our clients suffering from mental illnesses. We strive to provide quality care and work with the person to set goals and minimize stressors and troubles. Providing that constant support for our clients and really listening to them is one of the most important parts of our job. If a client feels their therapist doesn’t believe them or isn’t hearing them the relationship will not grow. Creating a relationship built on trust and understanding is so extremely important, I’m not sure if I could ever stress it enough.
Madeline Stiers, Mental Health Coach
Hope and Healing Center & Institute