The Department of Social Work Education
About Social Work
The profession of social work is dedicated to meeting the diverse social service needs of special populations of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. As a practice-oriented profession, social work deals with social concerns that range from societal oppression to people's emotional/behavioral problems. The social work practitioner helps at-risk populations which typically include people of color; women; people who are recent refugees; those who are older adults, poor, and/or homeless; children and adults who are abused/neglected; people who have chronic mental illness; those who are developmentally disabled; those who have physical illnesses or disabilities; and those who abuse substances or engage in criminal activities.
In focusing on disadvantaged groups, social workers use a range of traditional and nontraditional methods to promote well-being, personal growth, and social justice. These methods include client and systems policy advocacy, brokering, and consulting, as well as individual, family, and group counseling/psychotherapy. Other methods include education, research, and professional supervision.
While the discipline of social work is deeply rooted in a rich, 100-year history of service, what social workers "do" is no longer traditionally defined. The role of the social worker is constantly expanding into innovative service fields wherever a compassionate response to human need is indicated.