What is social work? That is a complex question. The answer is as rich as the history of social work itself. The answer is dependent upon an array of factors including perceptions, society, and research. The best answer I can give you is how I define social work.
Social work, I feel, is in the person’s blood. A part of who they are as a person. A part of the soul.
Social work, I feel, is one of the many threads in the person’s lifestyle. A way of thinking. A way of behaving. A way of feeling.
If a person looks up the word, social work, there is variety of definitions provided. Merriam-webster.com defines social work as “various professional activities or methods concretely concerned with providing social services and especially with the investigation, treatment, and material aid of the economically, physically, mentally, or socially disadvantaged.” TheFreeDictionary.com defines social work as “organized work intended to advance the social conditions of a community, and especially of the disadvantaged, by providing psychological counseling, guidance, and assistance, especially in the form of social services.” These definitions are brief and short. They do not epitomized the essence of social work. I feel they do not accurately represent to the world, those who are not in social work or have not had contact with social work, what the profession is. The value of the profession. The reasons why funding needs to increase in programs social workers are a part of. The type of soldiers we are and the struggles we face everyday on the front lines.
The question remains: What is social work?
My concrete answer is this:
Social work is a profession built on concepts and ethics supported by the National Association of Social Workers. It is a profession that involves working with a variety of individuals and groups. The profession is found in a variety of locations such as schools, social service sector, politics, research, higher education, government, private practice, and advocacy groups. The profession focuses on working with individuals or groups to help them enhance or regain their capacity for positive social functioning and motivation for goal achievement. The profession values empowerment, positive regard, strong working relationships, and client-centered thinking. Evidence based practice and research is valued to further develop the strength of the profession. The profession has micro, meso, and macro levels of practice that are continuously developed and advanced.
In my eyes, there is no best definition to define and describe social work. Social work is a continuously evolving organism.
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