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Social workers: professionals who can help with life's issues

Overview

Published: 06/21/2016

by Arielle Duke

 

We all experience the affect of social issues at some point in our lives. Divorce, bullying, grief, stress, addictions, and abuse can impact people of all ages. Issues like these range in severity and can be debilitating for those suffering. It is important that Canadians know there are professionally trained consultation options that can help.

Social workers are trained to provide a variety of services that include counseling and psychotherapy related to such issues as relationship problems, managing stress, anxiety and depression, addictions, and adjusting to life crises.

“People see social workers when they are going through a difficult period in their personal, family or work life,” explains Joan MacKenzie Davies from the Ontario Association of Social Workers. “Social workers help people identify and understand the source of stress or difficulty in their lives. They help people develop coping skills and find effective solutions to their problems.”

There are more than 16,000 social workers in Ontario working with people of all ages, backgrounds and income levels. The practice of social work is regulated by the provincial government and only registered social workers (RSWs) can call themselves a “social worker”. They are highly-skilled professionals who have a university degree in social work. They may also have additional training in specialized areas of practice.

For those experiencing social issues in rural communities across the country, social workers may be the only mental health care provider in the area.

Making a difference

Social work is unique among the helping professions because it looks at peoples' problems within the context of their families, workplace and communities. It considers the connection between personal problems and larger social issues.

Social work as a career offers many possibilities to people who want to make a difference in the quality of life for individuals in the community. People considering a career in social work may be interested in working with children hurt by bullying or with couples who are having trouble in their relationship. They may want to help persons with drug or alcohol problems or assist people with disabilities to realize their potential. Social workers help groups organize to get better housing, improve health care for older adults and create safer neighbourhoods. They use their knowledge and skills to help shape better social policies. They delve into the causes of specific social ills and grapple with questions about which social programs really work and why.

You can learn more about the practice of social work and careers in the profession at www.oasw.org.

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