The Stuff You’ve Heard About Social Work Is Wrong!

Whenever I tell someone that my major is social work, I always end up with one of these three responses:

“Wow, that is HEARTBREAKING work, I give you props!!”

“Oh, so you’re going to take children away from their families?”

“Uh….so what is that, you’ll be a psychologist?””

Even though these three responses are rooted in simply not knowing what the field of social work is, I gotta say, sometimes they aggravate me to a new level.

 

 

That is why, however, I want to educate people on what exactly social work is, so all my fellow social workers out there can stop pretending that they major in psychology because it’s easier to explain to someone (believe me, I’ve been there and done it more than once!)

Social work is a wonderful field with so many different opportunities. It’s more than working in social services and placing children in foster care, and it goes beyond just listening to heartbreaking stories all day.

 

 

Social workers go beyond that stereotypical ideal. They know how to help people within the context of their environment. Psychologists are amazing in their own rite, but they are distinct from social workers. While psychology is the study of the brain and they help figure out what is going on inside your brain, social work takes into consideration many factors to whatever problem a client may be experiencing. They may help you with understanding your reactions to your environment or current situation. Instead of having a psychologist tell you that you have depression, a social worker will work with you to figure out why you have depression and what in your environment may help relieve it or trigger it. This is something many people don’t realize, and honestly I didn’t even know the actual distinction between a psychologist and a social worker for the longest time!

The list of job opportunities for social workers could literally go on forever, but they deal with basically any population of people you could think of. Newborn infants, teens, the elderly, and everyone else in between. They work with the homeless, minority groups, LGBTQIA+ folks, men and women experiencing domestic abuse, suspects of crimes, veterans, or even just everyday people that want to talk out their feelings. Literally any population you can think of, I bet there’s a type of social worker that works with that group.

I can actually almost guarantee you’ve been in a place that has a social worker. Did you go to high school? Guess what, your high school had a social worker! Have you ever seen a therapist, or know someone that has? Therapists have master’s degrees in social work! Do you have a grandparent in a nursing home? Nursing homes typically have social workers in-house ready to assist in any way they can! I’m serious when I say this list could be pages long.

We are your therapists. We are your case managers and your politicians. We are your school counselors and even your discharge planners in the emergency rooms of hospitals. We are your researchers, your public health educators, and your teachers.

We aren’t angels sent from heaven to deal with the most undesirable cases (because yes, this is something people have told me,) we are just people that want to make a palpable difference in our communities. We are humans with a passion to change lives for the better in so many different ways.

So give your nearest social worker a hug, and let them know they’re making a difference and that you acknowledge all the good they’re doing in the world. It will mean more to them than you will ever know.