Social workers are often falsely perceived as heartless bad guys or troublesome meddlers due to the entertainment industry, society’s perceptions, or simply the uninformed spreading incorrect information. Because of popular representation, it’s easy to believe myths regarding the profession that simply aren’t true, whether as a working social worker or as a client. Before you pursue a career in social work or deny your need for a social worker, make sure that you know the difference between fact and fiction.
Expectation: Becoming a social worker only requires good intentions and kindness.
Reality: Pursuing a career as a social worker requires a degree in social work, often at the Masters level. Depending on the type of social work you choose to practice, you may also require licensure. In addition, necessary skill include, but are not limited to effective communication, problem solving abilities, empathy, dependability, and the ability to interpret your clients’ behavior and body language.
Expectation: If you are a social worker, you most likely work in welfare or for the government.
Reality: There are many options of specialties within the social work field, including military and veterans affairs, gerontological, medical and health, etc.
Expectation: All social workers do is take children away from their families
Reality: A social worker is not a bad guy who finds joy in separating families. Social workers are dedicated to improving their clients’ lives, not ruining them. For social workers who do chose to specialize in child welfare, the safety and wellbeing of the child is of the utmost importance. When a child is removed from a home, reunification is usually the goal.
Expectation: The only people who need social workers are those that have made bad decisions and are in trouble.
Reality: Most people, at some point in their lives, will require the assistance of a social worker. The most prevalent role a social worker plays is connecting people to necessary resources. For example, families with special needs children or elderly parents can rely on social workers to connect them to resources that will help them take better care of their loved ones. We rely on social workers to explain unfamiliar situations to us and help us find the resources, like a nursing home or in-home services and equipment, to better our quality of life. There is no shame whatsoever in relying on the assistance of a social worker.
Expectation: Social workers have no time for a personal life. They work 24/7 and are miserable.
Reality: Social work is a demanding and often emotionally exhausting job, but it is also extremely rewarding. This career allows you the opportunity to personally make a positive difference in the lives of your clients. And although there will be many instances of long days, social workers generally work an average 40 hour week.