Social workers are health professionals who use counseling to help
people function in their environment, improve their relationships with others,
and solve personal and family problems. They also help people locate and access
appropriate resources for their particular needs.
A social worker may work in a hospital, community organization, or
private counseling. Most social workers concentrate on a specific area of
practice. For example, clinical social workers provide psychotherapy or
counseling and a range of diagnostic services in public agencies, clinics, and
private practice. Child or adult protective services social workers investigate
reports of abuse and neglect and intervene if needed. And medical social
workers provide counseling in hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation
facilities to people who are receiving therapy for physical problems or
Most social worker positions require a
master's degree (MSW). But many social worker positions, such as a child protective
services social worker, require a bachelor's degree (BSW) only. All 50 states require licensing, certification, and
registration of social workers. Requirements vary from state to state.
August 17, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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