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6 Things we can learn from a career in social work

To find out more about the rewarding skills brought about by a career in social work, continue reading. 

A profession that helps relieve people’s suffering is also one where you are required to go an extra mile in your everyday work life. Social workers often come across situations where they are expected to contribute more than what’s stated in their job descriptions. Whether you’re a nurse,  counselor, or any other type of social worker, you must first be empathic and work for the sake of human welfare rather than financial gain. However, very few people possess the will and tendency to do that. 

Social workers don’t just relieve people’s suffering but also help improve the community. Considering the changing dynamics of the world, the demand for social workers may increase by 16 percent or more in the next five years. This field is for anyone who wants to play an instrumental role in driving change. Nonetheless, it isn’t for the weak or faint-hearted. While sometimes social workers may receive heartfelt love and appreciation from their clients, their efforts may otherwise go underappreciated. Even receive relentless and unnecessary criticism sometimes. Still, social work can be very rewarding as a career. 

While some essential social work skills can be picked up on the field, relevant education can prepare you beforehand for the situations you may face. An online social work masters degree can help you do just that. This degree will help you adapt to diverse work environments and prepare you to work with different individuals, families, and cultural settings. To find out more about the rewarding skills brought about by a career in social work, continue reading. 

1. Communication 

The first skill on the social worker skillset checklist is communication. It is also the most important one. Social workers advocate for people’s lives and become their voice. Sometimes, they voice out the concerns of people who aren’t themselves willing to be heard. Hence, to understand the clients’ needs better, social workers need to be expert communicators. 

Social workers aren’t just listening ears or punching bags for their clients. They also play the role of counselors and therapists who need to persuade their clients from time to time in the most convincing way possible. Plus, this career brings about a diverse range of clients. Your clients may be young, elderly, sick, traumatized, or least willing to take help. Communicating with them will require sheer will or perhaps even sorcery. 

2. Empathy 

Very few people possess true empathy as a skill. However, it’s highly critical for social workers as their entire careers depend on it. Being able to understand and feel what others are feeling is almost supernatural. However, it is quite standard for social workers. Most people presume that there is absolutely no way to teach empathy. Little do they know that social work degree programs cover essential course material to develop or refine this skill in social work students. 

3. Balance 

Balance can be equated to one of the most necessary but difficult skills needed for social workers. It isn’t easy to be taught through the course material. It can only possibly be picked up once you’re actually in the working environment. However, it is also the skill that most social workers struggle with, i.e., keeping their professional and personal lives separate. Not letting your often traumatic work experiences and difficult clients affect your personal life can be termed as balance. To ease the tension and stress of your work, you as a social worker may need to invest more time in self-care routines. 

4. Problem Identification And Resolution 

Social workers aren’t just therapists and other practitioners. They also work as research associates, advocates, and strategists, which means that their literal job is to analyze and understand the problems of individuals in the community and come up with pragmatic solutions. To do this, social workers need to have a keen eye for problem identification and an open and creative mind to propose solutions and strategies that may mitigate the problem. These solutions may be proposed in the best interests of the clients and the community. 

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5. Time Management 

Social work is no 9 to 5 job. The workload is severely unpredictable in this profession. Social workers may need to contribute long and tiring hours with sometimes no time for rest or meals. You may need to return important telephone calls while you’re meeting with clients, and all the while, you’ll also be required to maintain some critical paperwork. Doing this all at once might seem chaotic at first, but you’ll eventually adapt to this work ethic. Besides, time management isn’t a hard-to-learn skill. It can be taught through coursework and induction of real-life situations. Hence, it is nothing to fret about. 

6. Patience 

At some point in your social work career, you may feel the need to hire a social worker for yourself too. You may be faced with a plethora of extremes throughout your working day. However, keeping your head through each situation is a critical part of your social work career. Your clients may be upset, anxious, annoying, enraged, violent, etc. Listening to them with an open mind and empathizing with them will take every ounce of patience in you. Getting frustrated through longer interactions with clients will only slow down the already slow progress. 

The Bottom Line 

Social work is undoubtedly a demanding career. It is also a highly rewarding one. Several necessary traits of social workers can be learned through course material taught in social work degree programs. Other skills need to be picked up in real-life situations during your job as a social worker. The most important skills are communication, listening and persuading the client, empathy actively, and feeling what others are feeling. Other skills may include maintaining balance in personal and professional life, problem identification and resolution, time management, and patience. 

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