A social worker specializes in helping individuals, couples, families and groups tackle many kinds of problems and situations. Social workers work within the context of a person’s environment and life situation. They help people cope with and overcome the challenges of psychological problems, serious illnesses, social and economic problems, life crises and transitions, and difficulties in school, work and relationships.
There are two general types of social workers, direct-service social workers and clinical social workers. Clinical social workers are healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. A clinical social worker is also known as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).
In contrast, direct-service social workers do not diagnose or treat disorders, but work to help people with an illness or otherwise difficult situation cope and achieve their goals. Direct-service social workers identify a client’s needs, strengths, goals and challenges; make plans to help a client improve coping skills and quality of life; and follow up with clients to assess their progress and the effectiveness of plans. A direct-service social worker may be known as a licensed social worker (LSW) in states that require licensure.
The practice of a social worker varies depending on if he or she is a direct-service social worker or a clinical social worker, his or her education and specialty, and the type of setting and client. In general, a social worker may:
Assess a client’s needs, challenges, support systems, and resources
Identify or diagnose mental and emotional disorders and life challenges. A LCSW diagnoses and treats mental, emotional and behavioral disorders with therapy.
Develop treatment or action plans to help clients, and re-evaluate and modify plans as needed
Help a client access needed resources and organizations
Advocate for a client
Provide individual, group, family, and couples or marriage counseling
Teach and support strategies for behavior changes, coping skills, and therapeutic techniques, such as breathing techniques and the use of visual imagery
Collaborate, refer and consult with other professionals, such as psychiatrists, teachers and psychologists
Maintain strict patient confidentiality, unless patients are at risk of hurting themselves or others or the provider has a legal obligation to share information
Commit patients involuntarily in emergency situations
Social workers may also be known by the following names: direct-service social worker, licensed social worker (LSW), clinical social worker, licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), child social worker, therapist, or counselor.
There are 4378 specialists practicing Social Work in Washington with an overall average rating of 4.0 stars. There are 8 hospitals in Washington with affiliated Social Work specialists, including Overlake Medical Center, Kadlec Regional Medical Center and PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center.