Areas of Social Work Concentration
There are many different paths you can take to becoming a social worker. At some point, while you are on that path, you will have to choose which social work concentration within the field that you want to focus on. The specialties within social work are numerous and varied, and many of them tie into each other in one way or another.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work is one of the fastest-growing careers in the United States. The profession is expected to grow by 19 percent between 2012 and 2022. More than 650,000 people currently hold social work degrees.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, social workers are the most common clinically trained mental health professionals in the United States. Unfortunately, about one in five adults in the United States is identified as having a mental illness, so the need for social workers in this particular concentration is critical.
This particular area of social work focuses on psychosocial assessments of common mental issues and illnesses, as well as developing and implementing treatment plans to help individuals and their families.
This social work concentration also focuses on mental health policies and health care delivery systems.
It is possible to secure an entry-level job in this particular area of practice with a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree will offer you more opportunities and the ability to open up your own practice. Clinical positions usually require post-graduate supervised experience and a license.
Within this Social Work Concentration, You Can Further Define Your Focus as a:
Clinical Social Worker
Sees patients in a clinical setting, usually in private practice or in a shared practice with other social workers, psychiatrists or mental health professionals. This usually entails long-term care over time with regular appointments.
Hospital Social Worker
Sees patients in a hospital setting, which may mean providing more acute care on an on-call basis. Examples can include someone who arrives in the emergency room after a failed suicide attempt, or who threaten to commit harm to themselves or others.
Children’s Mental Health Specialist
Sees pediatric patients, usually in a clinic or school setting, and handles child-specific illnesses, behaviors, and temperaments
that can arise in either normal or stressful situations for the child.
This social work concentration can overlap with mental health, but addiction is a complex disease that presents enormous challenges not only for addicts but also for their caregivers. As a social worker in this concentration, you may help patients work through withdrawal periods or meet with patients who struggle with a current addiction. You may also assist recovering addicts who are trying to solve their problems while avoiding addictive substances.
As someone who is trained to understand that the foundation of addiction stems from traumatic life issues, you can help addicts address the complex psychological issues that arise in therapy. Your job is to actively listen and provide the knowledgeable guidance, support, and reassurance clients need to recover.
According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), 79 percent of the 5,000 respondents had a master’s degree (MSW) in social work.
Most states require a master’s degree as well as several thousand hours of supervised, clinical experience. If you are interested in working as an addiction social worker, you should look for volunteer opportunities in your community while you are in school.
Volunteering can lead to entry-level positions or internships, and it can permit you to start building experience that adds substance to your resume, college, or graduate school applications.
Job titles within this Concentration include:
Rehabilitation Center Addiction Counselor
Works with patients to identify the reasons behind their addictions and the best ways to confront and beat the addiction.
The focus is to teach groups and individuals how to prevent an addiction from forming and may assess patients for risk. Can also begin preventative treatment or lead classes with exercises that enable clients to take action themselves.
Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor
Works in a clinical setting seeing and treating patients with long-term addictions. Develops treatment plans for dealing with withdrawal and preventing relapses while uncovering physical, mental and emotional triggers that must be avoided.