NASW Benefits: Being a Member of a Social Work National Association
Most social workers and social work students are familiar with the National Association of Social Workers, the professional body responsible for the Social Work Code of Ethics, among other things. The NASW benefits are numerous for social worker professionals.
NASW is a renowned professional association within the field of social work, and a number of other such associations exist, such as:
Why Professional Associations are Important
Professional associations are important to their respective field because they seek to further the interests of that profession and the individuals practicing it. These social work associations often sponsor and publish research, scholarly journals, and policy agendas that both disseminate information and promote the work of the profession.
Professional associations are organized through paid membership structures, and choosing to become a dues-paying member of a social work professional association can be of great advantage to the social work practitioner.
A Community of Colleagues
Joining a professional association connects you to a community of fellow social workers at various points in their careers. Building such a community within your profession provides many benefits, including:
- Bonding with other members on a common commitment to the field and its social action issues
- Engaging with other practitioners “in collaborative work on behalf of a client system”
- Learning from the experience of others to enhance your work
- Universalizing struggles within the field by hearing the common experiences of other members
- Establishing a support system of peers who can be relied upon for advice, guidance, comfort, or reassurance
- Sharing one’s own experience, advice, support, and guidance with others
Access to Information
Active membership in a professional association is a great way to stay up-to-date in the field. Social work professional associations are prodigious depositories of information on some topics related to the field, and members can benefit from:
- Having access to academic journals published by the association, containing relevant and innovative research to incorporate into evidence-based practice
- Staying up to date on policy analysis conducted by professional associations
- Being alerted of opportunities for policy advocacy
- Receiving notification of opportunities within the field, including job openings, upcoming conferences and symposiums, and presentation opportunities
Personal Growth Through NASW Membership
Membership in a professional association has also been shown to positively impact members on the individual level, contributing greatly to their personal growth within and outside the profession.Some of these positive factors are:
- Improved health and mental health through a sense of connection to a group
- A renewed sense of self-confidence
- An enhanced sense of one’s competence in the field
- An opportunity for deeper reflection on one’s practice
Additional NASW Benefits
In addition to the NSW benefits mentioned above, professional associations have other benefits to offer members such as the opportunity to challenge oneself by serving on committees, developing standards, and advocating for policy change.
Additional NASW benefits include a connection to a community of colleagues, access to information, and personal growth professional memberships can help members to develop skills by learning from others and having access to information about new methods, research, and techniques.
Membership in a professional association allows social workers to maintain the ethical standard of social work competency, by encouraging continued development and education as a social worker throughout one’s career and connecting social work practitioners to individuals with common goals and interests.
- Toseland, RW, Rivas, RF. An introduction to group work practice, seventh edition. Boston (MA): Allyn and Bacon; 2012.
- Yalom, I. The theory and practice of group psychotherapy, fifth edition. New York (NY): Basic Books; 2006.
- Putnam, R. Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of American community. New York (NY): Simon and Schuster; 2000.
- Simon, S, Webster, J, Horn, K. A critical call for connecting students and professional associations. Social Work with Groups. 2007;30(4)5-19.
- Royce, CA, Hechtman, J. Forces at work: the top 5 reasons for belonging to a professional association. Science Scope. 2001;24(6)28-31.