5 Tips to Working with Other Social Workers

Becoming a social worker gives you the opportunity to help diverse groups of people. The broad nature of the field means that you’ll likely find yourself collaborating with others as you serve clients. To provide the best possible care environment, it’s essential to learn to work together effectively with other social professionals.

Start Networking

Building a network of fellow social workers that you feel comfortable with means you’ll always have someone to go to for help. To meet others, join professional organizations, such as the National Association of Social Work (NASW), or attend industry conferences that draw individuals from throughout the field. Social media, including LinkedIn and Twitter, is another helpful source for networking. As you meet more people, you’ll begin to get a feel for how the difference branches of social work complement each other and how this can help you serve clients.

Communicate Clearly

A client may be seeing multiple care providers across many institutions at any given time, creating a situation in which information can get lost in the shuffle or passed on incorrectly. Clear, consistent communication between all individuals involved in a client’s care helps to ensure that this doesn’t happen. That means talking not only with other social workers but also medical professionals and private caregivers. Maintaining client confidentiality is critical during the process, but whatever information can be shared should be available across the network to support a cohesive treatment environment.

Create a Web of Support

With all of these different types of care going on at the same time, clients require reliable, compassionate support from everyone they’re working with. That means social workers need to come together as a unit to provide accurate information. Any one situation may involve parents, children or multiple extended family members, all of whom are interacting with a different social worker who needs to know what’s happening with everyone else. Holding conference calls or meetings among care providers to bring others up to speed gets everyone on the same page with a client’s case.

Focus on Clients

Always remember that clients are the reason you first got into social work. Your job is to help people deal with and overcome difficult circumstances, and you can’t do that if the whole network of providers serving them isn’t pulling together the way it should. Each individual case requires special attention and a commitment to seeing things through until problems are resolved. Whether this takes weeks, months or years, it’s up to you to maintain contact with all social workers involved in the case and continue to provide consistent, reliable care.

Strive for Excellence

When collaborating with your fellow social work professionals, the goal is always to make things as comfortable and helpful as possible for clients. Optimal care involves collaborative efforts that put clients’ needs above all else and work to uphold the ethical standards set for the social work profession. Should conflict arise, it’s important for the entire team to deal with it in a productive way that supports a positive outcome rather than each trying to go his or her own way to deal with the problem. Aiming for excellence ensures that everyone benefits.

When social workers collaborate with the goal of providing a supportive, cohesive care experience for clients, it becomes much easier to reach the necessary milestones on the road to recovery or resolution. Clients feel at ease every step of the way, and you and your colleagues are able to accomplish more than would be possible if each of you worked in isolation.