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Social Workers

Social workers

Definition

A social worker is a helping professional who is distinguished from other human service professionals by a focus on both the individual and his or her environment. Generally, social workers have at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited education program and in most states they must be licensed, certified, or registered. A Master's in Social Work is required for those who provide psychotherapy or work in specific settings such as hospitals or nursing homes.

Description

Social workers comprise a profession that had its beginnings in 1889 when Jane Addams founded Hull House and the American settlement house movement in Chicago's West Side. The ethics and values that informed her work became the basis for the social work profession. They include respect for the dignity of human beings, especially those who are vulnerable, an understanding that people are influenced by their environment, and a desire to work for social change that rectifies gross or unjust differences.

The social work profession is broader than most disciplines with regard to the range and types of problems addressed, the settings in which the work takes place, the levels of practice, interventions used, and populations served. It has been observed that social work is defined in its own place in the larger social environment, continuously evolving to respond to and address a changing world. Although several definitions of social work have been provided throughout its history, common to all definitions is the focus on both the individual and the environment, distinguishing it from other helping professions.

Social workers may be engaged in a variety of occupations ranging from hospitals, schools, clinics, police departments, public agencies, and court systems to private practices or businesses. They provide the majority of mental health care to persons of all ages in this country, and in rural areas they are often the sole providers of services. In general, they assist people to obtain tangible services, help communities or groups provide or improve social and health services, provide counseling and psychotherapy with individuals, families, and groups, and participate in policy change through legislative processes. The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior, of social, economic and cultural institutions, and of the interaction of all these factors.

Resources

PERIODICALS

Gibelman, Margaret. "The Search for Identity: Defining Social WorkPast, Present, Future." Social Work 44, no. 4. (1999).

ORGANIZATIONS

National Association of Social Workers. 750 First St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002-4241. <http://www.naswdc.org>.

OTHER

National Association of Social Workers. Choices: Careers in Social Work. (2002). <http://www.naswdc.org/pubs/choices/choices.htm>.

National Association of Social Workers. Professional Social Work Centennial: 18981998, Addams'Work Laid the Foundation. 1998 (2002). <http://www.naswdc.org/nasw/centennial/addams.htm>.

Judy Leaver, MA

Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD

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Social workers

Social workers

Definition

A social worker is a helping professional who is distinguished from other human service professionals by a focus on both the individual and his or her environment. Generally, social workers have at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited education program and in most states they must be licensed, certified, or registered. A Master's in Social Work is required for those who provide psychotherapy or work in specific settings such as hospitals or nursing homes.

Description

Social workers comprise a profession that had its beginnings in 1889 when Jane Addams founded Hull House and the American settlement house movement in Chicago's West Side. The ethics and values that informed her work became the basis for the social work profession. They include respect for the dignity of human beings, especially those who are vulnerable, an understanding that people are influenced by their environment, and a desire to work for social change that rectifies gross or unjust differences.

The social work profession is broader than most disciplines with regard to the range and types of problems addressed, the settings in which the work takes place, the levels of practice, interventions used, and populations served. It has been observed that social work is defined in its own place in the larger social environment, continuously evolving to respond to and address a changing world. Although several definitions of social work have been provided throughout its history, common to all definitions is the focus on both the individual and the environment, distinguishing it from other helping professions.

Social workers may be engaged in a variety of occupations ranging from hospitals, schools, clinics, police departments, public agencies, court systems to private practices or businesses. They provide the majority of mental health care to persons of all ages in this country, and in rural areas they are often the sole providers of services. In general, they assist people to obtain tangible services, help communities or groups provide or improve social and health services, provide counseling and psychotherapy with individuals, families, and groups, and participate in policy change through legislative processes. The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior, of social, economic and cultural institutions, and of the interaction of all these factors.

Resources

PERIODICALS

Gibelman, Margaret. "The Search for Identity: Defining Social WorkPast, Present, Future." Social Work 44, no.4. (1999).

ORGANIZATIONS

National Association of Social Workers. 750 First St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002-4241. <http://www.naswdc.org>.

OTHER

National Association of Social Workers. Choices: Careers in Social Work. (2002). <http://www.naswdc.org/pubs/choices/choices.htm>.

National Association of Social Workers. Professional Social Work Centennial: 18981998, Addams' Work Laid the Foundation. 1998 (2002). <http://www.naswdc.org/nasw/centennial/addams.htm>.

Judy Leaver, M.A.

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"Social workers." Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Social workers." Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/psychology/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/social-workers

"Social workers." Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. . Retrieved October 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/psychology/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/social-workers

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Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Social Workers

Social Workers

Definition

Description

Resources

Definition

A social worker is a helping professional who is distinguished from other human service professionals by a focus on both the individual and his or her environment. Generally, social workers have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited education program and in most states they must be licensed, certified, or registered. A Master’s in Social Work is required for those who provide psychotherapy or work in specific settings such as hospitals or nursing homes.

Description

Social workers comprise a profession that had its beginnings in 1889 when Jane Addams founded Hull House and the American settlement house movement in Chicago’s West Side. The ethics and values that informed her work became the basis for the social work profession. They include respect for the dignity of human beings, especially those who are vulnerable, an understanding that people are influenced by their environment, and a desire to work for social change that rectifies gross or unjust differences.

The social work profession is broader than most disciplines with regard to the range and types of problems addressed, the settings in which the work takes place, the levels of practice, interventions used, and populations served. It has been observed that social work is defined in its own place in the larger social environment, continuously evolving to respond to and address a changing world. Although several definitions of social work have been provided throughout its history, common to all definitions is the focus on both the individual and the environment, distinguishing it from other helping professions.

Social workers may be engaged in a variety of occupations ranging from hospitals, schools, clinics, police departments, public agencies, court systems to private practices or businesses. They provide the majority of mental health care to persons of all ages in this country, and in rural areas they are often the sole providers of services. In general, they assist people to obtain tangible services; help communities or groups provide or improve social and health services; provide counseling and psychotherapy with individuals, families, and groups; and participate in policy change through legislative processes. The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior; of social, economic and

cultural institutions; and of the interaction of all these factors.

Resources

PERIODICALS

Gibelman, Margaret. “The Search for Identity: Defining Social Work —Past, Present, Future.” Social Work 44, no. 4. (1999).

ORGANIZATIONS

National Association of Social Workers. 750 First St. NE, Washington D.C. 20002-4241. http://www.naswdc.org

OTHER

National Association of Social Workers. Choices: Careers in Social Work. (2002). http://www.naswdc.org/pubs/choices/choices.htm

National Association of Social Workers. Professional Social Work Centennial: 1898–1998, Addams’ Work Laid the Foundation. 1998 (2002). http://www.naswdc.org/nasw/centennial/addams.htm

Judy Leaver, M.A.

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"Social Workers." The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Social Workers." The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/social-workers

"Social Workers." The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health. . Retrieved October 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/social-workers

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Citation styles

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Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

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Notes:
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Social Workers

SOCIAL WORKERS

The 1930s proved to be a transformative decade for the social work profession. The appointment of Frances Perkins as secretary of labor in 1933 and the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935 convinced many social workers that the Roosevelt administration would effectively address the major social woes of the Depression. Perkins, who was the first woman appointed to a presidential cabinet, was a noted social worker from New York, and many social workers anticipated that their concerns would receive national spotlighting as a result of her appointment. In addition, the Social Security Act convinced social workers that people in need could turn to the federal government for relief, and would no longer have to rely solely on local communities. Moreover, during the 1930s, the 1920s model of casework-related social work fell out of favor and there was a gradual move away from the community settlement house concept toward the establishment of government welfare agencies. John H. Ehrenreich contends that the 1920s model of social work professionalism became an anachronism with the advent of the Depression and its massive poverty, its newly energized social programs, its new social work institutions, and the transformation of the relationship between social workers and government. Social work elites could no longer claim that they worked solely in the interest of their clients, and division arose in the profession between the old guard and rank-and–file social workers who came of age during the 1930s.

The best known of the old guard reformers, Jane Addams, died in 1935, and according to historian Judith Trolander, no one came along in the settlement movement to replace her. Even the leaders of the settlement homes that remained by the mid-1930s began to realize that they had to make fundamental changes in order to keep up with trends in their profession. Perhaps the greatest failure of the settlement house movement was that it did not embrace integration during this period of Jim Crow segregation. Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn concludes that racial prejudice was the main cause of the decline of the settlement movement, and the reason the great promise of the movement remained unfulfilled.

There were some social workers, however, who addressed the concerns of racial injustice within the social work profession during the 1930s. These rank-and-file social workers also played a major role in left-wing agitation during the 1930s. Social workers who belonged to the leftist rank-and-file often focused their energy on linking the broad social objectives of their profession with the labor movement. The group's greatest success was the inauguration of the radical journal Social Work Today in 1934. The journal was edited by noted social work scholar Jacob Fisher of the Bureau of Jewish Social Research, and many of the era's major figures in social work were contributors, including Gordon Hamilton, Eduard C. Lindeman, Ira Reid, Roger Baldwin, and Mary Van Kleeck. By the 1930s, this leftist branch of the social work profession was cooperating with African-American reformers, such as Eugene Kinckle Jones of the National Urban League, Forrester B. Washington of Atlanta University school of social work, and Charles S. Johnson of the Fisk University department of sociology. Their goal was to eliminate discrimination within social work policies. Social Work Today stood in opposition to Survey, another professional journal that addressed more traditional and nonconfrontational issues within social work.

Jacob Fisher, chairman of the National Coordinating Committee of Social Service Employee Groups, was a leader of the rank-and–file radical social workers. Edith Abbott, president of the National Conference of Social Work during the 1930s and a faculty member at the University of Chicago, represented the more traditional social work core. Abbot and Fisher were particularly opposed on issues of race. Aside from concerns about racial discrimination within the profession, there were other forces that threatened peaceable relations. One conflict concerned new professional qualifications for the master of social work degree that was adopted in 1937 at the National Conference of Social Work. Since Atlanta University was the only black school of social work in 1937 that offered an advanced degree, the number of trained social workers serving the African-American community was limited. The ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in Missouri ex. rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938), however, required many colleges that had previously been open only to whites to accept black students, a ruling that had a major impact on the social work profession.

Another important development in social work during the 1930s was its spread to the rural United States. Before the Depression, social work had mostly been accomplished in urban environments, but new government regulations facilitated social work in rural areas, and rural people were able to receive attention to their social needs for the first time during the 1930s.

See Also:PERKINS, FRANCES.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Addams, Jane. Twenty Years at Hull House. 1910.

Brown, Josephine Chapin. Public Relief, 1929–1939. 1941.

Chambers, Clarke A. Paul U. Kellogg and the Survey: Voices for Social Welfare and Social Justice. 1971.

Ehrenreich, John H. The Altruistic Imagination: A History of Social Work and Social Policy in the United States. 1985.

Fisher, Jacob. The Response of Social Work to the Depression. 1980.

Lasch-Quinn, Elisabeth. Black Neighbors: Race and theLimits of Reform in the American Settlement House Movement, 1890–1945. 1993.

Simon, Barbara Levy. The Empowerment Tradition inAmerican Social Work: A History. 1994.

Spano, Rick. The Rank and File Movement in Social Work. 1982.

Thyer, Bruce A., and Marilyn A. Biggerstaff. ProfessionalSocial Work Credentialing and Legal Regulation: A Review of Critical Issues and an Annotated Bibliography. 1989.

Trolander, Judith Ann. Professionalism and Social Change:From the Settlement House Movement to Neighborhood Center, 1886 to the Present. 1987.

Felix L. Armfield

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"Social Workers." Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Social Workers." Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. . Retrieved October 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/social-workers

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Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

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