Studying social work is a fulfilling career path filled with numerous opportunities to impact lives of humans across the globe, both individually and altogether. In India, alone, there is currently a huge need for social workers both in the urban and rural sectors. With issues ranging from poverty and unemployment, to lack of basic human facilities like sanitation, access to healthcare, education, and of course, the struggles of the disadvantaged and marginalised in our society. Social work is aimed at addressing the problems in all aspects of life, from providing one-on-one support for family welfare to formulating legislative policies to eliminating systemic injustice.
Do’s and don'ts of social work
Experience is the most important factor in any job, and particularly in the case of social work. The more knowledge and understanding a student gains, the better they are able to contribute to their day to day work.
Practical experience is therefore, the focus of this field as it also enables students to put into practice the lessons they have learned and observed in class. Such practical experience exposes them to ground realities and helps them understand the importance of social work. A student's ability to apply those lessons at a practical level before entering the core work field allows them to take immediate action after the completion of their studies. Here are some of the do’s and don'ts of social work.
Do’s of social work:
- Be ready to meet the people you will work with where they are in life and acknowledge their struggles and problems without judgement.
- Be transparent enough to communicate your abilities clearly to the person without pretending you have answers to all their queries.
- Be prepared to adjust your priorities and schedules to suit any critical situations.
- Understand that you can't meet everyone's needs at once but ensure that the work flow remains uninterrupted.
- Remember you are a professional and no matter what happens or what roadblocks you face, you will need to remain respectful and find the right solutions.
Don’ts of social work:
- Don't assume anything about the people you are working with, always ask and cross check about their family, culture, background and more importantly, their struggle.
- Do not personalise and hold on to negative comments in case you receive them and focus on your work instead.
- Don't look forward to fixing each and everything, everyone is responsible for their own actions and decisions, you have to look forward to being supportive and resourceful and let the rest take its course.
Social work is a demanding profession that requires a worker to have a wide variety of skills and qualities Source: flickr
Top 3 skills for a social worker in India
In India, there is a lot of scope for social work, with NGOs and other organisations constantly on the lookout for competent workers and volunteers. However, anyone wanting to enter the field in the country must also keep in mind that the issues are many and the work challenging.
Social work is a demanding profession that requires a worker to have a wide variety of skills and qualities. Success in this particular field requires workers to continually develop skills as per the changing demands throughout their careers. While the below mentioned list is not exhaustive, these skills are essential for all social workers, particularly when they are starting their career.
Compassion is the ability to identify and understand the experiences and perspectives of others.
It is especially important in social work practice. The people who want to work with or the causes you associate with have monumental challenges, and empathy goes a long way when you consider the outcome of your efforts. An empathetic social worker is better accepted, and hence able to provide better services.
2. Critical thinking
Critical thinking is the ability to analyse information obtained via minute and unbiased observation and point of contacts, and come up with unique solutions. A social worker must be able to collect information through observations, interviews, and investigations and objectively assess each case with his/her critical thinking. They must be able to make correct decisions, select the best resources, and thereafter come up with the best strategies to help.
3. Cultural Tolerance
To work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life, social workers must be respectful and sensitive to cultural beliefs and practices. Social workers need to understand and respect the cultural background of their clients. Keeping an open-mind, respecting human being, irrespective of gender, caste, creed or social standing, and the valuing their individuality enables a social worker to work effectively and efficiently.
For you to obtain these and other specific skills, there are a number of courses available in our country, many of them short online courses that you can complete without enrolling in a university or college. Check out 5 such courses here
Overall, success in social work rests on the pillars of lifelong learning and having a deep-seated need to make a difference, to people and to society. Social workers should feel professionally committed to the values and ethics of social work and continually develop their professional skills for the betterment of their clients. The profession is noble but also full of trials, are you ready for the challenge?