Social workers provide the bulk of mental health services that are provided in the United States in both mental health facilities and private practice. A social work therapist uses the same theories of clinical therapy that a trained psychologist or counselor would provide.
Social workers provide services to children in foster care, adoption, psychiatric treatment group homes, and residential treatment settings. Social workers also provide counseling services, serve as probation workers, and are employed in school settings.
Social workers are a vital part of the health care team, along with doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. Health care, in the home as well as in the hospital or nursing home, offers rapidly expanding employment opportunities for the social worker.
Social workers provide many of the services available through the public welfare auspices, including placement of children and older adults who have been removed from the home, managing public assistance grants and Food Stamp applications, and other direct services to people in need.
Schools increasingly employ social workers to help with some of the developmental and educational problems facing children and teachers. They often are able to provide the early support many children need to become secure, self-sufficient adults.
Social workers are unique among the helping professionals in the way they consider the individual within the context of the family and the larger social environment. By counseling individuals and families, and by building formal and informal networks of support in the community, social workers in community and family service agencies and in private practice help families cope with marital problems, unemployment, drug abuse, alcoholism or emotional stress.
Social workers help those with developmental disabilities by providing counseling, referral to appropriate services, and education in daily living skills. The social worker also helps people suddenly disabled by accidents or serious illness adjust to their disability and to live as independently as possible.
Services for Older Adults
Social workers help older adults and their families obtain necessary health and mental health services, maintain meaningful activities and relationships, and adapt to the aging process.
Industry, Business and Labor
Social workers work with employees and their families to solve problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, marital discord, or work-related stress. They help organize or staff health programs that can head off problems before they arise. They also help corporations and unions recognize and meet their responsibility to the community and to the greater society.
Social workers can be employed as probation workers, practice in forensic psychiatric clinics, provide counseling services to prison populations, provide expert testimony to the courts, and work with judges and other court officials to divert delinquent youth to prevention programs.