5 Great Books for Social Workers

Social workers go through stress in their working lives that hardly anyone else ever needs to experience. Whether it’s addiction, suicide attempts, or abuse in the home, social work can be incredibly taxing on a person. With all of that said, there are certain books that can help a social worker better process these hardships while serving their clients. We’ve narrowed our list down to a total of five books that every social worker should own.

1. Liz Murray–Breaking Night

This is the first memoir on our list, and it details Murray’s upbringing by two parents with mental health issues as well as addictions. With no one to care for her, Murray eventually ended up homeless but was given a second chance when the New York Times offered her a scholarship to go to Harvard. This memoir is especially useful for those social workers who are helping their clients work through traumatic experiences.

2. Chris Nicholson–Children and Adolescents in Trauma: Creative Therapeutic Approaches

This book has a number of solutions for problems that social workers might be facing with their clients. The great thing about this book is that it doesn’t just offer the stories of one person but instead counts on a number of social workers to share their own unique stories.

Each of these stories examines the myriad ways that trauma can be handled, all depending on the particular trauma that the client has gone through. A great deal of the contributors has worked in places like psych wards, homes, and schools for those with special needs, so there’s a great deal of insight that’s given here.

3. Lois Metzger–A Trick of the Light

This book about an eating disorder is unique in that it’s told from the perspective of the eating disorder. What makes this even better is the fact that the main character with the disorder is male. A great deal of work has dealt with girls who have eating disorders, but few have looked at how these disorders affect boys too.

4. Dan Savage–It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living

This is a book that should be required reading for any social worker who is specifically working with LGBT youth. Believe it or not, LGBT youth are more likely to be bullied or commit suicide than their straight peers. Responding to this outbreak, Savage created something that LGBT youth can easily access called It Gets Better. This is a project that uses a variety of means to help youth who are struggling with their feelings as well as judgments cast against them.

5. Elizabeth Wurtzel–Prozac Nation

This is another memoir, this one dealing with the major issue of depression. Whether it’s counseling or being hospitalized, this book looks at just how pervasively this disease can break apart a person’s life.

Some social workers have already dealt with depression in their own lives, but this book is perfect for those social workers who have never personally felt the effects of depression. After all, when you have a greater understanding of what someone else is going through, it becomes much easier to get them the help that they need.

The cornerstone to a high level of care for patients is for a social worker to read up on experiences that might be out of their realm of understanding. Reading these stories and arguments will lead any type of social worker to a greater understanding of just what their clients are going through. By doing this, both client and social worker will be happy.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Online Social Work Degree Programs