What does it take to be an effective social worker?

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Dorothy Farrel, D.M., M.S.W., Clinical Associate Profession Coordinator of the Online MSW Program at the University of Nevada, Reno goes over what it takes to be an effective social worker.


To be an effective social worker there are a couple of things to consider. The first is that it’s pretty innate as far as personality and having the desire to be present and engaged with other human beings. A little bit of kindness is really all that it takes to make an impact on a day to day basis. The other piece of being an effective social worker is to really be aware of best practices, skills, knowledge and values that can be obtained through practice and education.Social work practice is extremely dynamic and requires a great deal of flexibility, critical thinking and creativity. I also think that we have to always be willing to take risks while recognizing what we don’t know. We cannot be the expert on every issue and it is irresponsible and unethical to try and affect change without listening, observing and enlisting those who can help us the most. When working with individuals, this means engaging the individual to create a person centered plan. And with communities and systems it involves listening and involving key stakeholders. Social work practice cannot be effective without the input and influence of many.