6 Essential Social Work Skills

Social work is a versatile field that exists in a number of environments. Social workers help individuals, couples, families and groups of people in clinics, hospitals, schools, rehabilitation facilities, home health care, hospices, social services and other settings and services.

Due to the variety of roles these professionals have, there are social work skills each practitioner must have. The following examples represent some of the most critical skills.

1.    Empathy

Empathy enables people to put themselves in someone else’s position to feel what that person may be experiencing. This ability to identify with someone’s situation, including his or her intellectual, cultural and emotional state, is important in social work to develop an understanding of that person and to help solve his or her problems.

2.    Tolerance

Social workers help a diverse set of clients. Hence, they must approach clients from different socioeconomic, ethnic and racial communities and backgrounds with openness and respect. Potential opinions and judgments that the social worker has can become a barrier to providing quality services.

3.    Active Listening

Active listening is an especially important communication skill for social workers to have. Social workers who listen, stay engaged and can recall information are able to establish trust with clients and to build a therapeutic relationship with them. Active listening helps clients feel understood, and active listening helps social workers gain insight into the client’s situation and perspective.

4.    Organization

Social workers assume a variety of day-to-day responsibilities that enable them to help their clients. A given day can include making phone calls, networking with other service providers and billing. They must stay organized to handle their busy schedule, heavy caseloads and large amounts of paperwork.

5.    Persuasion

Persuasiveness is needed to help social workers influence clients to take action. Influencing and motivating clients to improve their circumstances is a core part of many conversations. Doing so with the right approach is a skill that social workers hone throughout their careers.

6.    Problem Solving

A primary goal of social workers is empowering their clients. Yet, on top of difficult situations, many social workers are faced with limited resources and tight budgets. Problem-solving skills can help social workers obtain the services their clients and communities need. They can also come into play for developing new policies and programs.

Starting a Career in Social Work

Campbellsville University offers an online Bachelor of Social Work and an online Master of Social Work to prepare students for a career in social work. These flexible programs equip graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue non-clinical and clinical roles in the field. Employment of social workers is projected to grow 12 percent by 2024, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.