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What Does a Social Worker Actually Do? Catherine Has Answers

Mar 15 2022

March is National Social Work Month, so we thought it may be a good idea to dive a little deeper into what our team of social workers do.

We caught up with Catherine Woskobnick, director of community health in Mercy Health – Lorain, to discuss the work behind social work.

What exactly is a social worker?

First and foremost, a social worker’s main responsibility is to help clients deal, cope with and solve issues they may be experiencing. Common issues social workers assist with may include personal problems and problems stemming from disabilities.

“Our social workers are the conduit – the connector to our resources in our community. We cannot do it all, but our community partners enable us to serve all of the social determinants of health,” Catherine shares.

Social workers work with hospitals and practices to help assess and treat behavioral and mental disorders. They also assist in coming up with treatment plans for patients.

Another big area of focus for social workers is addressing social problems like substance use and abuse, housing and unemployment. They are also involved in disputes among families surrounding domestic and child abuse or neglect.

What are the different types of social work?

There are lots of different types of social workers. Just like how doctors can specialize in a specific field of medicine, social workers can specialize, too.

Some common types of social workers or specialties include:

  • Substance abuse
  • Community work
  • Veteran or active duty military personnel
  • Educational access and support
  • Domestic violence
  • Mental health
  • Immigration and citizenship paperwork
  • Access to food
  • Access to shelter

“Our social workers are the connectors. They have exceptional critical thinking skills that allow them to process what is needed for each client,” Catherine says.

What kind of training does a social worker go through?

Short answer? Lots. Lots of training and continuing education goes in to being a social worker.

A lot of the training and education depends on the state that they’re working in but, generally, social workers will have:

  • An LSW, or Licensed Social Worker, has their bachelor’s degree and license          
  • An MSW, or Master’s Prepared Social Worker, has their master’s degree
  • Continuing educational units are required for competency and to ensure their license is in good standing
  • Experience in a clinical setting

What does a typical day look like for a social worker?

While a social worker’s day can vary wildly, but typically they’ll:

  • Spend time assessing individual client’s needs
  • Make referrals
  • Respond to situations and crisis management
  • Attend and lead counseling and therapy sessions

What are some things you’d be surprised to learn about social workers?

  • Social workers are the nation’s largest providers of mental health services.
  • More than 500,000 people in the United States have degrees in social work.
  • There are U.S. senators and representatives who have social work backgrounds.
  • Social workers have been around since the late 19th century.
  • All social workers work under a standard code of ethics.

And last but not least, we asked Catherine if there a particular social worker she can think of that truly demonstrates the passion it takes to be in this line of work?

“At our Mercy Health family outreach, our social worker Irvin Del Valle, MSW, is bilingual and he provides support to our immigrant clients and those seeking citizenship. He is the voice of our Spanish-speaking community. He is also passionate about smoking cessation and is certified in helping to educate the community of the impact of smoking and vaping.”

Social workers are here to make the world a better place. They’re passionate about the health and well-being the people they serve. We appreciate our social workers who are specially trained in assisting people in solving complex problems in their everyday lives. Learn about the health care services we offer at Mercy Health.

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