What is a social worker?
* A social worker, as defined by the National Association of Social Workers, is a person who helps people obtain necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, or otherwise tangible resources. A social worker can also act as an advocate in legal, legislative, or social situations, where they represent the interests and needs of a group or individual. Some social workers are counselors, while others work to diagnose people who are struggling with their mental or emotional health. Some counselors hold Clinical Social Work licenses which allow them to do this. Social workers can be found in almost any setting, but primarily work in public and private sectors which provide a service, such as in a health clinic, at a counseling provider, or at a school like me! My job mainly consists of a little bit of all of the above. I find that I mostly provide counseling and conflict resolution to our students, but I also help students get food, clothes, supplies for their babies, and I also attend local events with students as an advocate and supporter.
- Do social workers take children away from their parents?
* This is probably the most common question I am asked, and the truthful answer is: Sometimes. If a social worker is employed as a caseworker for Child Protective Services and they decide that a child's living conditions are poor or abusive, or that their access to resources (like food and shelter) are severely neglected or restricted, they may make the decision to temporarily separate a child from their family. Often a child is separated until a legal resolution is found, and caseworkers always do their best to keep families united! I am not a CPS caseworker, but because I work in a public school I am a mandated reporter. That means that if I have reason or suspicion enough to contact CPS about a child, I am required by law to do so. For example, if I see a student with suspicious bruises, or a student tells me about a situation at home that is abusive or neglectful, it is my job to then contact CPS. I am at risk of losing my license to practice if I do not report what I see. If you want to know more about mandated reporters, check out this link from the National Association of Social Workers, and also this article about the mandatory reporter law in New York state.
- Does being in counseling mean someone is "crazy"?
* Absolutely not! I always compare attending counseling to going to the doctor for your check-up. Just like your body, your mind, spirit, and brain need to be taken care of and checked up on. Counseling is just like that check-up at the doctor! In counseling, we discuss ways the client can help themselves and also help them to reframe their issues and see them in a different light. Counseling helps people to process things that have happened to them, and helps them to cope or deal with their stress or life events in ways that are healthy and stimulating. It is totally normal and healthy for someone to see a counselor.