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Where does a career as a Mental and Substance Abuse Social Worker start and end?

February 03,2010 by: Dallas Browne

Basically, a career as a Mental and Substance Abuse Social Worker starts upon enrolling the course in a university and finishing it. The career ends when a person or a social worker thinks that he has contributed enough to the society and has already done his share in helping change other people’s lives. This type of job is not something competitive unlike being a financial analyst for example, but more of it being rewarding emotionally and spiritually. This is so because the course and the career focus on sharing time, knowledge and skills to others who are confused or lost.

A social worker, as defined in books and dictionaries is a person responsible for assisting or helping people who are facing one or two types of social problems, those who are trying to improve their lives and those who are trying to deal with their problems but are having a hard time doing so.

Social workers usually provide assistance to their clients through direct counseling. This is a scheme where the client and the social worker help one another in trying to identify effective solutions, arrange the services that might help the client and look out for effective and reliable resources. After that, a social worker usually recommends or refers a client to the most appropriate and effective specialist he thinks is best for his client.

But the responsibility of a social worker does not end there. He still will see to it that he follows through with his client and his recommended specialist. This is to make sure that his client is having full advantage of the services being offered by the specialist. Other responsibilities of a social worker will include visiting clients on a regular basis, helping clients fill out forms and other paper works, and of course, provide support in times of crisis.

There are different types of social workers in the health arena. To differentiate a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker from the rest, here is a list of their specific duties or the daily tasks that usually makes up their day’s work:

  • interview clients or simply asking about their present condition of feelings
  • evaluate mental or physical condition of clients to make sure that everything’s under control
  • confer with other professionals especially if a noted change in behavior from a particular patient is seen
  • plan and coordinate patient treatment (both with the doctor and relatives of client)
  • make modifications to treatment plans (especially if a recommendation is made either by doctor or family of client)
  • evaluate, monitor, and record client progress  
  • refer patients to appropriate community resources
  • counsel and aid family members of patients  

To be a social worker usually requires a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in the said field is required to be able to work in healthcare facilities or clinics. These days, almost every state in America also requires a licensure, certification or a registration to be a qualified social worker. While most states usually require 3.000 hours of clinical experience, a lot are emphasizing on a supposed social worker’s professional ethics, sensitivity to cultural diversity issues and the demonstration of communication skills.


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