Empowerment refers to a state where people feel they can control their lives and take actions that affect them positively. Most empowerment models are based on the fact that all persons can deal with the challenges in their lives but are limited by some internal and external factors. Empowerment interventions aim to support a person or group to actively influence their lives from a state of helplessness. This intervention helps people manage situations better to maintain a sense of control.
Aside from encountering doctors, nurses, and other health professionals in the hospital, the chances are that you would meet a social worker. Social work is a profession that improves the well-being of the people in society, especially the underserved. These professionals understand the complex interaction between individuals and the environment and employ various strategies to change situations and individuals. Social workers work in homes, the healthcare sector, social policy, human resource development, teaching, program planning, and research. These workers believe that every human, regardless of class, is valuable. Therefore, they are committed to bringing out the best in every assigned client. In many societies, they are at the forefront of social rights and justice.
In clinical settings, social workers help patients with stress, depression, anxiety, financial problems, anger management, and life changes. Some patients whose illness may have impaired them may have difficulty adapting to the new life change. Patients like these need social workers to link them back into the society they feel is no longer theirs. Social workers empower their clients in the following ways:
Social workers employed in the community are often found in government agencies, hospitals, clinics, non-profit organizations, daycare programs, etc. While some are permanent employees, others pay occasional visits to those facilities. Their roles include assessing the client’s strengths and weaknesses. They investigate those areas of their lives where support is needed and do their best to fill the gap. Sometimes, these clients lack sufficient love because society does not see them as deserving of it. The social worker can help the person build self-love and esteem to help them weather the storm of negative energy. The effect of such treatment could also be depression or anxiety. The worker can help with resources to help overcome such situations. Even if the professional does not have everything at their disposal to handle the need, they can refer the client to someone that does.
Social workers do not function in a vacuum. They work in collaboration with other health professionals. In the healthcare sector, for instance, these workers are part of an interdisciplinary team that collaborates with physicians, physical therapists, dietitians, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, recreation therapists, and a host of other professionals. They contribute their quota to building emotional health among patients within their care circle. They also develop healthy relationships with them to make communication easier. They assess the implications of health changes for patients and help them cope with their new life. For instance, a recent amputee would have difficulty navigating his new life. He was used to using both hands but was suddenly left with one. The social worker helps him learn to cope more effectively with his new life. While things may not be as they used to be, there are better ways to handle life changes. These experts also serve as advocates in hospitals with fewer facilities to care for patients. They ensure that institutions saddled with the responsibility of caring for underserved people do their jobs diligently.
Preventing school violence and bullying
Sadly, bullying can be a regular occurrence in high schools across the world. Therefore, many schools employ resident social workers to forestall incidences of violence and bullying. These workers ensure the schools are safe by eliminating all forms of violence and creating a warm and loving environment for students irrespective of age, religion, class, or ethnicity. When children, teenagers, and adolescents are scared to attend classes for fear of being attacked, they may develop mental health issues like anxiety and depression, not to mention the fact they lose out on their education. Social workers can help educate students on the need to co-exist amid diversity and help struggling students through difficult times.
You might wonder what a social worker has to do with an economic recession. While they are not economic experts, their input is needed in a downturn. Their clients need their services in situations like this. Job loss, reduced income, inflation, and home foreclosures come with mental challenges like anxiety, low self-esteem, hopelessness, and depression. Families and individuals that struggle to make ends meet are uncomfortable and want to give up. There is usually a surge in demand for social workers during this period. To make matters worse, those worst hit by economic difficulties do not have money to pay for private services. Social workers start by enlivening the mental health of the affected people. They make them understand that the recession is a reality they must live with until things get better. Understanding this fact makes things a lot easier because the citizens start to do things differently, like cutting down on their spending and finding other ways to be happy amid sadness.
Leveraging the power of social media
Aside from social workers, many professionals use social media to empower their clients. With millions of people spread across social media sites, it is easier to reach a wide variety of people with your message. Most social sites have online support groups where people battling depression, addiction, and life challenges assemble to share their challenges. Social workers use this to reach potential clients and educate them about their mental health and other related topics. Despite the positive effects of social media, there is a debate on the efficacy of social networking in social work. While this avenue is useful in reaching a wider audience, social workers must be careful in its usage as it could violate some boundaries. Regardless of what happens within this space, the job of this worker is to identify the problems, educate the client about them, and find the appropriate risk management strategies.
Essential skills of social workers
Social work is an in-demand skill in the 21st century. However, the career path is not a call for every Tom, Dick, and Harry to jump on. It requires a great deal of commitment. Aside from the financial benefits, it also allows you to help the vulnerable and give them a better life. As much as this sounds like an exciting venture, it can be a demanding one if you are not prepared. If you are interested in this field, ensure to be equipped with the following skills:
Communication tops the list of every skill one needs for every career. Regardless of what you want to do, you should be able to communicate effectively with your customers or clients. A social worker must be an expert in verbal and non-verbal communication because your clients may not always be open to conversations. It would be best to go beyond their words to interpret deeper meanings in their statement. When you communicate with them, ensure to be clear in what you want them to do as this would make your job and theirs easier. After getting responses, also communicate with your superiors so that the next line of action would be taken accordingly.
As a social worker, you are a leader in your small space. A leader is responsible for taking the necessary resources for clients, empowering them, and implementing the changes they want to see in their lives. Even if the patient’s challenges seem new to you, you are not overwhelmed by them but still find creative ways to help them out of it. Your leadership also helps you to create new initiatives and eliminate outdated ones that are beneficial in today’s world. One way to upscale your leadership is by acquiring an online master of social work like the program offered at Keuka College. This 100% online course helps you to address the growing need for mental health services in society. After graduation, you can pursue licensure as a clinical social worker, where you can serve as a mental health provider.
Being a social worker means you’ll attend to numerous clients throughout your career. A common challenge most workers face is that they get burned out easily. They begin their day by finding multiple resources to keep their clients going and still try to create an emotional connection between them. The problem with trying to do too much for a client is that they may not have sufficient energy to replicate the same care for another client. When they are done with one, they are tired and feel empty. Sometimes, they feel a sort of resentment after they are burned out. One way to avoid this is to apportion time and resources to each client. After the time elapses, move to another task. That way, you can create intimate relationships and perform your job effectively.
Every human exists to solve a problem. If there were no need for social workers in an organization, they wouldn’t be hired in the first place. Whether to solve a minor or serious problem in an institution, someone is needed to do that. It is sometimes difficult to find relevant solutions for complex issues, but social workers are trained to be critical thinkers that invent the most intelligent responses to problems. One of the ways to find a lasting solution to a client’s challenges is to show empathy and actively listen to them. Being empathetic means putting yourself in their shoes and feeling a chunk of their pain. This helps you generate successful resolutions to the problems before you.
A social worker is a lot of things at the same time. Multitasking and time management are two sides of the same coin. It is important to learn to do numerous tasks simultaneously and not let any of them suffer. Being able to work on two things and not confusing them is an underrated skill. It can be challenging to fill multiple shoes at once, but as a social worker, you must be prepared for busy days. On those days, you may not have all the time to finish one task before moving to the other. Therefore, you are forced to juggle them, bearing in mind that you have other tasks ahead. While you work, you also want to ensure that you maintain your client’s trust, as they may feel uneasy if they sense you are confused.
Social work is a calling for dedicated humans willing to make an impact. It is not a get-rich-quick scheme or a means of empowering unemployed people. As a social worker, clients with different needs are entrusted to your care. Therefore, you must do everything in your power to enhance the quality of their lives.