To succeed in social work, there is a range of demanding and diverse professional, cognitive, and emotional skills that you must possess. While many individuals who become social workers are naturally born for the role, others may need to learn the key attributes needed in order to succeed.
The main role of a social worker is to protect vulnerable individuals and support families who need assistance. Here are 10 further key skills required to become a social worker.
One of the main duties of a social worker is to listen to their clients effectively. Getting to know clients and reflecting back on what they say is important, so you will need to be engaged in every conversation you have so you can fully understand their wants and needs. Good listening skills will help your clients take you seriously and feel like they can trust you. In a nutshell, active listening means:
- To remove all distractions
- Listen to client’s signs and sounds
- Feed back that you have understood
Many individuals who have chosen to become a social worker may already possess a high EQ, or emotional intelligence. This includes a high level of empathy, sensitivity, and self-awareness of others. As a social worker, you will often have to balance what you know, as well as learn how to read between the lines of what is being said.
Every client is different, so while some cases may be straightforward, others may be more complex. As a social worker, you will need to adopt critical thinking into your routine, helping you to think on your feet and know what best course of action to take to help your clients in the best way possible. There are many benefits of critical thinking that you can use both in your professional career and personal life, such as:
- Making better decisions
- Feeling happier
- Ensuring your opinions are well-informed
- Improving relationships with your clients
Understandably, in order to help your clients, you will need to have good organizational skills. Social workers must provide a range of case management services that require excellent organization and planning skills. If you struggle with time management and working under pressure, a role in social work may not be in your best interests.
Many social workers feel that all their hard work is never enough. When you are done for the day, the emotional stress that you have gone through may carry on into your home life, which can cause negativity with your family and friends. It is therefore crucial that you set boundaries between yourself and your clients, giving you some much-needed time to practice self-care. Having time to switch off and unwind can provide you with plenty of health benefits, such as:
- Boosting your confidence
- Boosting your self-esteem
- Improving sleep
- Maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself
Social workers work with a range of clients. It’s important that you’re culturally responsive when approaching clients, especially with those who are from different ethnic, socio-economic, and racial communities. Being respectful and showing openness is a key component of social work practice, so being open-minded and not casting judgment on others will help you stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.
As you will be engaging with many different people on a daily basis, social workers must know how to communicate in a variety of ways. It’s crucial that you’re clear and honest about the types of services that you can provide to your clients. Naturally, we all want what’s best for our clients, however, you may not have the resources, experience, or say so to help, so being honest and frank with your clients is crucial. Building strong relationships with your clients can help them feel at ease, and having good communication skills can help clients in a number of other ways, such as:
- Feeling in control
- Trusting your judgement
- Feeling valued
- Reducing their anxiety
The role of a social worker isn’t for the faint-hearted. There are various challenges and obstacles that you will face, which can be emotionally challenging, so it’s important that you find your inner strength to perform your job effectively. It’s just as important to take care of your own physical and mental health too. Being passionate about helping others in need and making a positive difference to their life is what makes a social worker position so rewarding.
If you aren’t able to put yourself in other people’s shoes, it’s likely that a career in social work isn’t right for you. To get the most out of your job and perform at your best, you will need to understand your clients on an intellectual, cultural, and emotional basis. Being able to emphasize with their situation can help you imagine the sorts of difficulties your clients are facing.
If you are serious about working in social work, it’s important that you have the right education behind you first. In order to meet entry requirements, you will need to study for a degree in social work which will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to succeed. You can go one step further and study for a masters of social work where you can apply for roles such as:
- Mental health therapist
- Social worker
- Family counsellor
- Mental health clinician
Before you embark on a degree in social work, it’s important that you read through any course specifications and entry requirements, as well get a better understanding of the fees involved so that you can decide whether the course is right for you.
As a social worker, each day is different. As you will be working and engaging with individuals from all different walks of life, it’s crucial that you have the right skill set and experience behind you to perform your role effectively. All the key skills listed above are traits that every social worker should possess. Is social work of interest to you? Let us know.
contributed by: Umber Mahmood