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Skills and Traits That Make a Good Social Worker

Good Social Worker

Social work is a dynamic profession that fosters social change, development, community cohesiveness, and people's and communities' empowerment. It requires a deeper understanding of human psychology and development, culture, social and economic institutions, and the infrastructure of society. Social workers bridge the gap between communities and institutes after interacting with each of them to find plausible solutions for the challenges faced. They are front-line workers who work and interact with people and communities that are deprived, vulnerable to crisis or facing challenging situations and need the attention of institutes to boost or maintain their well-being.

The field offers its workers diverse career choices and growth. The US Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) estimates that the social workforce will grow by 16% between the years 2016 to 2026, with a 10% projected growth rate to accommodate the needs of the growing and aging population. As a result, many academic institutes now offer degrees in social work to equip prospective social workers with the necessary skills and qualities required to manage this tough job and achieve more progressive social outcomes for a better tomorrow. Thus, if you are looking forward to becoming a social worker or want to advance your professional career, there are masters of social work online degree programs that you can enroll in to build the appropriate skill set needed for the job. Getting an advanced degree in social work won’t just upgrade your skills but will allow you to explore broader field domains, including clinical social work and macro social work. Clinical social work will allow you to identify mental illness, abuse and provide counseling for health, family, and children. While macro social work will train you to collaborate with public and private institutions to highlight issues that affect the community, assess and plan programs, and take actions to resolve the specific social problem. You will be more on board with your clients by interacting or working with an institution to develop new policies and programs.

Despite the skills and knowledge that a degree might equip you with, there are some must-have skills that you need to develop to succeed in your career. Thus, without further ado, let’s discuss eight skills and traits that every good social worker must possess.

1. Empathy 

Empathy is the ability to perceive, understand, and respond to other people's emotional states and opinions. Everyone cannot master this skill. Once you master empathy, you will be able to build a stronger and trustable bond with your clients or the specific group assigned to you. You and the other party will have more confidence in each other. People will be more open and comfortable with you while they are expressing their concerns. Research has shown that empathic social workers are more effective in their work and can better balance their roles in society.

2. Time Management 

Time is a precious asset for a social worker. Working hours can be long and unpredictable. The best way to avoid inconvenience for you is to manage your time efficiently. Manage your task accordingly. Make a priority list giving preference to the most urgent or important ones. Paperwork, meeting and visit schedules, and telephone calls can all be arranged if you are efficient in managing your time. Everything can just go smoothly.

3. Organization

Social work is a busy and scratchy task. The busy schedules can make a mess for you. So to be efficient in your work and manage your time perfectly, you should be more organized.

Keep your notes, client priority list, and records organized. As a social worker, you will be assigned to different people, each having different needs and opinions, so you need to be organized in your tasks. Otherwise, if you are not organized, then you may under or overlook the queries of your clients.

4. Professionalism

Social work requires a lot of involvement and interaction with members of the community. You need to remain professional and maintain ethical standards and good judgment criteria regardless of the circumstance.

You need to respect a client’s privacy and confidentiality within the decorum of a social worker. You should be committed to your motto for promoting well-being in society despite all the odds, and that is only possible if you remain professional and impartial.

5. Open-Minded

Social workers interact with people coming from different socio-cultural backgrounds, so they might be more conservative or laidback than you. Thus, as a social worker, you should be open-minded towards their opinion and maintain a non-judgemental attitude. You will have to encounter people of different ages, disabilities, races, genders, religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Therefore, you need to remain calm, non-judgmental, and culturally tolerable.

6. Critical and Analytical Skill

Social workers handle a wide range of cases that can be mild and extreme. So, you should be critical and analytical about the facts. Your research and conclusion about something should be unbiased and objective. This will help you make better decisions and sound plans for your clients.

7. Stress Management

Social workers have a mentally and physically exhausting job. Everyday challenges and activities can induce stress and fatigue. However, you can avoid stress by maintaining a balance in your professional and personal life. You should set aside some time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate. Go on a trip, shopping, picnics, and give yourself some small treats. This will boost your productivity at work and prevent other stress-related issues.

8. Social Policy Advocacy

This skill will provide you with a breakthrough in your work. All the hard work and effort you will put into the assigned cases will require policy advocacy at a certain stage. You will have to advocate on behalf of your clients or the voices that cannot be reached. And for that, you should be confident and knowledgeable enough about the existing policies, legislative process, and policy implementation to make your case and achieve desired results. Developing this skill will require you to work on your existing research, analytical, and communication skills.

Conclusion

Social work is not an easy job. In fact, it can be downright exhausting. However, it can be very rewarding too – you will be making a difference in people’s lives and growing along the way. So, if you have chosen this as a career, why not do it right? Being a voice for the voiceless is only possible if you put in the work. All the skills that we mentioned can be learned and mastered; it might not be easy or quick, but it will certainly be helpful.

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