Despite the fact that the professionals in the field are working to change the lives of their clients and do good in the world, there continue to be numerous social work stereotypes. People who decide to get into this line of work are often surprised to encounter some of the preconceived notions and misunderstandings that their friends and family hold about their chosen profession. For those who aren’t familiar with some of the more common fallacies out there regarding social workers, keep reading.
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Anyone Can Be a Social Worker
A common misconception about the helping professions is that these practitioners simply have to be nice and caring people. It’s often believed by many that social workers and other types of counselors don’t really have to have any specific knowledge or expertise. Some folks think anybody can do the job. That’s simply not true. First of all, not everyone possesses a great deal of compassion, empathy, and patience. Beyond these attributes come years of academic study and professional experience. Social workers usually have at least a Bachelor’s degree, with many positions requiring a Master’s or Doctorate level education. Some social work titles also require official certification or licensing.
It Takes a “Special Kind of Person” to Be a Social Worker
At the other end of the spectrum is the belief that it takes a special type of person to be a social worker. Sometimes people place social workers on a pedestal, believing they are superhuman in their compassion and desire to help others. While most social workers do possess a great deal of empathy, they shouldn’t automatically be given higher moral standing than the rest of the population. They should be judged as individuals.
Social Workers Take People’s Children Away
While social workers and other professionals who are employed in the field of child welfare or protection do sometimes have to remove children from their homes, this certainly isn’t the only type of social work out there. In addition, it’s not the goal of such professionals. Usually, the desired result is to keep families together whenever possible. Beyond child welfare is a host of other types of social work. Some examples include domestic violence prevention, drug and alcohol counseling, geriatric social work and school counseling. Not all social work positions even have “social worker” in the title.
Social Workers Must Lead Perfect or Boring Lives
Among one of the most popular social work stereotypes is the belief that these professionals must lead perfect lives. After all, their job is to help others improve their living situations. It then makes sense to think social workers don’t make mistakes or have problems in their own lives. That’s simply not true, however. Social work professionals are subject to the same types of human flaws and issues everyone else is. The difference is that they happen to know a number of strategies and expertise for dealing with things like mental health conditions and behavioral problems. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean such individuals are always able to use that knowledge wintheir personal lives. Sometimes social workers need help, too.
Those wishing to become social workers or who are just starting out in the profession may find themselves encountering these false beliefs. It’s good to know the types of social work stereotypes in advance so that these beliefs can be countered and managed proactively.
Source: Great Basin College