What Can a Social Worker Do for My Family?

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Not everyone knows exactly what social workers can do for people. In popular media, they're often portrayed as interfering or even hostile. But in real life, a social worker's job is to help families and individuals get through tough times and provide assistance, resources, and guidance, such as mental health resources for children. A major part of their work is letting people know what help is available, so those people can put that help to good use and get their lives together. Social workers might work for the government, for non-profits, or in the private sector.

Let's take a look at what a social worker could do for you and your family.

What Social Workers Do

First, you should know what kind of qualifications social workers need to do the kind of work they do.

At the bare minimum, becoming a social worker requires a bachelor's degree in the field. Many social workers decide to go on and obtain a master's degree in order to pursue more advanced social work positions, such as child welfare workers or substance abuse counselors. Social workers also enroll in internships in order to gain valuable hands-on experience in their field. Depending on where they're practicing, a social worker may have to obtain state licensing, which requires them to perform a certain amount of supervised work as well as completing an exam.

So how can all this be of help to your family? In short, a family social worker specializes in dealing with households that are dysfunctional in some way. Although there's a continuing stigma about dysfunctional households, it's not as uncommon as people may think - and many of the problems in dysfunctional households could be improved or resolved by access to adequate resources. The goal of a social worker's involvement is to show families how to stop negative behaviors and reduce stress, so they can go on to have a more happy, productive life.

Skilled social workers are trained to assist in a variety of family situations, including:

●       Child abuse and neglect

●       Domestic violence

●       Substance abuse

●       Divorce and custody battles

●       Disability

●       Mental health

●       Child learning difficulties

Here are a few more specific ways in which social workers can help your family:

Identify familial problems. We almost always see things differently from an inside perspective, especially when it comes to family matters. A social worker can help families identify the source of the stress and dysfunction, so they can be talked about and better understood. Very often, the source of the problem comes down to a lack of communication, which social workers can also help address by taking on the role of a mediator. By gently guiding discussion, asking questions, and encourage people to share their concerns in a non-confrontational way, social workers can help root out the cause of many problems and set families on the road to making them better. This can be especially important when it comes to children who suffer from disabilities, ADHD, dyslexia or autism.

Collaborate with schools. One of the first signs of familial dysfunction is things going wrong at school. A child with a stressful or confusing home life might act out in inappropriate ways, getting in trouble with authority and disrupting their own education (and that of others). As trained mental health professionals, school social workers use their knowledge to assist and work with schools to identify and help resolve those sorts of problems. This might take the form of individual or group counseling, working with parents to resolve home life issues, and using school and community resources to help a troubled child learn as effectively as possible.

Help with Resources. Many families struggle needlessly because they don't know where to find the proper resources to help them with their problems. This is where a family social worker comes in. A social worker can use her knowledge to help families gain access to resources like child tutoring services, medical or psychological professionals, addiction and rehabilitation facilities, community support groups, and more.

Family Counseling. One of the more common ways in which social workers provide help is through family counseling - either for relationship or marriage problems, separation or divorce, grief and loss, or mental trauma. Social workers can help families open up about potentially stigmatized issues and talk with one another, as well as help identify positive steps that can be taken and changes that need to be made.

Where to Find a Social Worker

As covered above, social workers don't necessarily all work for government offices. The field covers a wide range of skills and needs, and you can find a social worker in a number of ways:

●       Ask your family doctor.

●       Look up government child service agencies in your city or state.

●       Contact a family therapy clinic where you live.

●       Contact your regular hospital and ask for help.

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