Skills for Social Workers
Social Work is a profession that requires a variety of emotional and psychological skills in addition to formal academic training. While knowledge and practices are what defines the profession, some of the most important skills are actually internally developed. The skills one is taught within your academic and professional training are also extremely important in their own right and cannot be ignored either.
On this page you will find eleven skills to have for success in social work. One of the most important things to have, which is not a skill, but will add to your skills, is an education. You will be working in competitive settings putting the skills that you have learned towards career goals. To really push your Social Work career off on the right foot you will want to hold an MSW degree. The Master of Social Work Degree will set you up to apply for leading positions in the Social Work work force and open the door to a larger variety of job opportunity.
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Some of the skills that are most relevant and useful for Social Work include the following:
- Detailed note taking ability – The ability to take excellent notes is extremely important as you listen to your clients and colleagues and develop interventions and strategies.
- Organizational skills – Being organized is very important as you will often be asked to multi-task and the ability to prioritize which work is required to be done in which order is extremely important.
- Understanding of human psychology – You will need to understand the way people’s mind works.
- Knowledge of Human Developmental stages – it is critical to understanding human psychology, to know the developmental stages from birth to death.
- Knowledge of interventions applicable to one’s specialty – Depending on your specialty there might be a variety of different interventions that are extremely important to not only understand in theoretical terms, but also in practical application.
- A developed sense of empathy – Empathy is extremely important as a Social Worker for without it you will have an unending series of difficulties as you attempt help others work through their problems without fully being able to understand their point of view on a given situation.
- Exceptional professional boundary setting – In Social Work there are myriad situations in which it is critical that you are able to quickly and effectively establish a boundary in a concise and professional manner. This is important not only for ethical reasons, but also due to the fact that you as a human being will find yourself burnt out quickly if you do not rigorously apply and stick to professional boundaries as you go about the practice of social work.
- Ability to facilitate co-operation both among individuals and groups – One of your main tasks as a Social Worker will be to get reluctant individuals and groups to work with one another.
- Active listening skills – If you wish to be successful as a social worker you will need to be able to listen and also ask questions where appropriate for clarification as otherwise you will be unable to understand what others are attempting to convey to you in an accurate manner.
- Critical thinking skills – Critical thinking is helpful in Social Work just as it is in most of life when you need to make a decision on what a piece of information really mean, critical thinking is an incredibly useful skill.
- Verbal and written communication skills – You will need to be able to express yourself to a wide variety of people in a diversity of contexts and having strong written and verbal communications skills is an absolute must.
All of these skills play a crucial role in the career of a successful Social Worker. Developing each skill will require its own unique method of learning. Many of these skills will be developed as a result of formal educational training, while some will require you to actively develop yourself as a person.