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    10 Skills Every Social Worker Needs

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    With the continued growth of the social work field comes increased opportunities for social workers and human service professionals to improve the lives of challenged individuals. Before entering the field of social work, it is important to consider the core skills that are essential for successful career as a social worker.

    1. Assessment Skills

    According to the National Association of Social Workers, a significant number of social workers spend half of their time in case management. In order to be successful in case management, it is important to complete quality assessments. The assessment process reveals which clients need assistance obtaining resources, and it also allows a social worker to re-evaluate clients periodically in order to ascertain whether or not services remain effective and necessary.

    2. Communication Skills

    Communication in social work involves written and verbal correspondence with clients and other professionals. As an example, social workers considering grant writing careers must effectively communicate with elected officials to advocate for their causes and obtain necessary funding for programs. In any social work capacity, effectively communicating helps a professional advocate appropriately, remain clear and concise, appear professional and avoid or overcome crisis situations.

    3. Advocacy and Leadership

    Social workers frequently advocate for their clients. Well-developed advocacy skills allow social workers to properly represent their clients and obtain the services communities need. Excellent advocacy skills lead to positive change, and this helps clients to live empowered lives. These skills are used on the local, state and federal level to fight for existing programs, create new programs and remove or revise outdated policies.

    4. Problem Solving Skills

    One goal of social workers is to empower individuals. In order to empower someone, professionals must help that person work through challenges. Excellent problem solving skills are crucial in finding solutions for individuals and communities. In addition, social workers often work with limited resources and tight budgets. Problem solving skills are essential if one hopes to overcome budgetary obstacles and fiscal constraints.

    5. Critical Thinking Skills

    Applying social work theories and making informed decisions helps professionals to best serve client needs. In addition, professionals must act in an ethical and educated manner in order to best serve their organizations. This is where critical thinking comes in. Critical thinking involves searching for answers with an open mind and using information to best serve the present situation. When used correctly, these skills empower an individual during crisis situations and assist a social worker in best utilizing available resources.

    6. Respect for Diversity

    Social workers serve a diverse array of clients in many different sectors of society. Diversity offers many challenges, but it also offers strengths that can be utilized to overcome obstacles. A social worker who understands this can effectively serve clients, and this increases opportunities to improve communities.

    7. Intervention Skills

    Social workers regularly intervene in emergency situations to benefit the lives of their clients. Interventions are best offered in a way that empowers clients and draws on their available strengths. This allows clients to develop their own strengths and utilize them when future problems arise, so they can independently manage their lives.

    8. Documentation Skills

    All areas of social work require that professionals document findings about clients. As an example, many sources give a probation officer job description that includes the following: the ability to compile, analyze, evaluate and report to the court information obtained during an investigation. Without well-developed documentation skills, completing such tasks would be impossible. Social workers document assessment information, crisis interventions and any correspondence with their clients or other professionals. Documentation must be thorough, accurate and timely in order to benefit both the client and the organization offering services.

    9. Organizational Skills

    Social workers must keep resources organized, remain diligent in maintaining thorough and accurate records and utilize effective time management skills too. Excelling in organization requires learning how to simplify a work environment, prioritize tasks, use good decision making practices and keep a calendar of important events or projects.

    10. Understanding of Human Relationships

    Finally, social workers must understand that this field is about human relationships. Couples, families, friends and communities are all part of the support system an individual turns to in time of crises. If a social worker does not embrace relationship based practice, resources will be missed and problems often become impossible to resolve. Understanding this is key to becoming a competent social work professional.

    Mastering important skills enhances a social worker’s abilities in this challenging field. Education, practice and personal discovery all assist an individual in excelling in these areas.

    Ashley Dunlap is an online specialist for The Learning House and works with several universities including Shorter University Online.

    15 Comments

    15 Comments

    1. KrissyWilson #SSDir

      December 1, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      My biggest problem was finding placement for pts with limited income! Some pts had lower income than what the places wanted

    2. Iamsuchaladydotnet Brown

      Iamsuchaladydotnet Brown

      October 5, 2014 at 11:17 pm

      KaMita Resource’Lady Bell

    3. Stuck on Social Work

      June 29, 2014 at 10:57 am

      not directly mentioned because it fits in a few categories is Time Management

    4. steph miller

      April 9, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      . #macrosw-Su what wld I add? Teamwork

    5. SocWorkReproJustice

      April 9, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      What would you add? MT : 10 Skills Every Social Worker Needs – #SWUnited

    6. Marla

      August 27, 2013 at 6:34 am

      Awesome what about adding ethics training :))

    7. Domine Ruta

      August 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      Very well said. I also agree that technological skills should be added to the list. One can no longer advance without enough commend of technology know-how.

    8. SWhelper

      August 15, 2013 at 12:39 am

      I agree that technological skills should be added to that list, and social work education system needs to get on aboard. Then, students will follow suit.

    9. A Baltazar, MSW

      August 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      I think you need to add technology to the list! The world is going mobile and the business of human services is catching up technologically speaking to the business world itself. From basic mapping to understand a community and its needs to an administrative dashboard comprised of business intelligence. Social Work technology is changing from the field to the boardroom and our students need to be on board.

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