There are many official definitions for social work. The state of Minnesota defines it as:
“Practice of social work” means:
“Working to maintain, restore, or improve behavioral, cognitive, emotional, mental, or social functioning of clients, in a manner that applies accepted professional social work knowledge, skills, and values, including the person-in-environment perspective.”
The Dictionary of Social Work says,
The applied science of helping people achieve an effective level of psychosocial functioning and effecting society changes to enhance the well-being of all people.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) says,
Social Work is the professional activity of helping individuals, groups, or communities enhance or restore their capacity for social functioning and creating societal conditions favorable to this goal.
And the International Federation of Social Workers ratified this definition:
The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work.
But whatever the source the common element isaction. Social work practice is the act of professional involvement with people in need of help. Social workers aid people of all types, not solving their problems for them, but empowering individuals, families and entire communities to function socially.
Social workers help people with the day-to-day challenges of life and the mid and long-term pursuit of their goals. Social workers also advocate and organize for social change for the well-being of their clients. Finally, social workers are life-long students of the interaction of people, institutions and the larger social environment locally and globally.
“I think social work is teaching people how to help themselves.”
- Social Work Sophomore
“Social work is making connections. Connecting clients to services, connecting questions to answers. It takes some thinking.”
- Social Work Junior
“It’s helping people, but through a system. It’s easier to figure out what’s right to do and when.”
-Social Work Senior
View NASW’s “On Any Given Day Social Workers Help” video.