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Anti-oppressive practice

What Is Social Work?

The profession of social work seeks to improve the quality of life for individuals and to effect system-wide change through the pursuit of social justice. Just like any helping profession, such as nursing and teaching, social work seeks to help people overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges. What separates social work from other helping professions is its focus on the person-in-environment model and its emphasis on social justice. Social workers not only consider individuals’ internal struggles, as a counselor might, they also work with people to examine their relationships, family structure, community environment, and the systems and policies that impact them in order to identify ways to help address challenges.

Social work also emphasizes a strengths-based approach in which all individuals have strengths and resources and the social worker’s role is to help build upon a person’s skills and support systems. The profession of social work is varied serving people young and old, from every walk of life, in a number of settings such as hospitals, schools, neighborhoods and community organizations. It involves work with families, couples, groups, organizations, and communities. Social work is dedicated to the pursuit of social justice through direct service and through advocacy on the local, national, and global levels. These areas of practice are also referred to as the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. You can read more about specific careers in social work as well as the differences and intersections between micro, mezzo, and macro social work