The Science of Social Work


The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet basic and complex needs of all people, with a particular focus on those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty (NASW). Social work is different from other helping professions, because it focuses on both the person and their environment. There are more than 600,000 professional social workers in the United States, who either have a BSW, MSW or a DSW/PhD in Social Work.

Unlike the images on television and the big screen, not all social workers are child welfare or child protection social workers. These frontline social workers perform an essential service that saves lives, but the field is so much more diverse.

Social work is the social science that focuses on social change, problem-solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance social justice. Social work is often divided into three broad practice categories: macro, mezzo and micro. Macro social work helps clients by intervening in large systems. Mezzo social work practice deals with small-to-medium-sized groups, such as neighborhoods and schools. The most common kind of social work is micro practice which is intervention with individuals.

Social Work Month is an opportunity for social workers across the country to shine the spotlight on the profession and highlight the important contributions social workers make to society. 

Social Workers are educated, well-trained professionals. I want to take this opportunity to give you a peek “behind the curtain” and share 25 terms that have been a regular part of my social work career. How many are you familiar with?

  1. Code of Ethics
  2. Performance Monitoring
  3. Decision-Making
  4. Critical Thinking
  5. Multi-disciplinary team
  6. Evidence-based interventions
  7. Evidence-informed programs
  8. Outcomes and indicators
  9. Collaboration
  10. Prevention and early intervention
  11. Social justice
  12. Advocacy
  13. Supervision
  14. Diversity and inclusion
  15. Human rights
  16. Quantitative and qualitative data
  17. Service delivery
  18. Empathy
  19. Goals and objectives
  20. Program management
  21. Resource development
  22. Needs assessment
  23. Organizational leadership
  24. Stakeholders
  25. Human behavior and development

Nicki Sanders, MSW, is a travel and cupcake lover with a passion for self-discovery and career advancement. She has an extensive background in developing and managing interns and successful internship programs. She is an accomplished supervisor, professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has merged her Master of Social Work degree and 20 years of diverse work experience into a thriving business.  Nicki Sanders Consulting helps businesses increase employee recruitment and retention and helps managers uplevel their leadership skills.  

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