What Kind of Skills are Important When Becoming a Social Worker?

Social workers spend their day helping people cope with their problems. It could be diagnosing mental illness or listening to a person’s emotional issues. Social workers might work with children in child welfare agencies or with adults in private practice. A bachelor’s degree in social work, or BSW, is needed for social workers. Student studying to become a social worker will have to complete coursework to get their degree, but there are certain skills students need to be successful. These are skills that are not always taught during school.

Critical Thinking Skills

People are not one dimensional, which means that a social worker has to be able to understand the layers. Critical thinking involves taking all the data and facts into consideration before making a decision. This is crucial when dealing with other people’s emotions. Critical thinkers can take all the data they’ve been given and detail the thought process that brought them to their decisions too.

Honed Listening Skills

This is a skill that can be practiced in a person’s daily life. It involves keeping an open mind. While you should be hearing the words without distraction, you’ll also need to face the person and maintain eye contact. This tells the other person that you’re actively listening. Most social workers are dealing with people who need their full attention. They need to know the social worker is listening.

Ability to Communicate

Social workers have to be able to communicate effectively with clients, but there are others that need to be communicated with around the client too. Agencies might need written reports on the client’s progress. Recommendations and reports to colleagues have to be written on the client’s behalf too. Along with communicating using the written word, social workers have to be able to talk to clients in a way they’ll understand.

Organizational Skills

A social worker’s day is full of reports that need to be written, appointments with clients and meetings with colleagues. The ability to organize their schedule and prioritize is a vital part of being successful as a social worker. There will be emergencies that disrupt a schedule, so the social worker has to be able to get back on track quickly and have the ability to multi-task.

Knowledge of Human Psychology

The most important part of being a successful social worker is knowing what makes people behave in certain ways in certain situations. This is something that can be learned in school by taking coursework in psychology, but it’s a skill that has to be understood at a basic level beyond the classroom. It’s vital that the social worker knows how people’s minds work to be able to help them properly.

The social worker should start their schooling with some of these basic soft skills already. If you’re a great listener and have a genuine interest in helping others, social work can be the perfect career. If you don’t have some of them like critical thinking skills and the ability to communicate effectively, you’ll have to include classes in these topics in your coursework.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Online Social Work Degree Programs