What do practising social workers have to say about their jobs?

Experienced social workers will often share their feelings of pressure and high or complex caseloads. These characterizations of the profession permeate western culture, in particular. And while it is, of course, true that social work presents its share of challenges, it is also a gratifying and rewarding vocation. Below, we present both sides of the career equation, in the words of those who know the career best: its practitioners.

The work is never-ending. I work from home on a weekend constantly.

I want to know that the work that I do is having an impact on people’s lives. I don’t have to wonder if my efforts have made a difference. I get to see them every day in the lives of the people that I work with.

We are completely overworked, strict deadlines to meet with not enough time. We are unable to spend time on thoroughly getting to know children’s views and opinions or to even undertake direct work with children.

The social work profession gives me the opportunity to work in a variety of settings and work towards multidimensional collaborative change. By working in this field I am able to empower, advocate, motivate, connect, and encourage resilience. To challenge stereotypes and avoid fallacies. As well as fight discrimination, oppression and injustice, no matter the form. In this field, I get to be a voice for all who cannot advocate for themselves. Making this world a better place one person at a time, is worth it.

It is impossible to do an effective job and ensure you can spend all the time with these families that they need to make significant change to their life. There is not enough time in a day to manage this amount and it is severely impacting on our health and compromising our own personal lives. There is no work life balance.

I am in Social Work because the profession gives me the opportunity to help people from all walks of life in a multitude of settings. Social work teaches me to respect the vulnerability, the relationship, the person's right to choose, their suffering, the resources, and the responsibility we have in providing quality care.

If I only worked the hours I’m contracted there would be no way I could maintain statutory requirements on 32 children.

I had a rough childhood, and wanted to assist children so they wouldn't have to go through the pain and anguish I had to go through by myself.

I feel as though I spend my day apologizing for canceling appointments and not being able to return calls.

I am able to work with clients individually and yet again impact changes on the legislature and policy that may affect their services. It feels like the full circle, a holistic approach to individuals' needs.

Due to the high case load, most of my visits have to be quick to ‘tick the boxes’ – it’s not a good practice.

Social work seemed like the best career path for me for many reasons. Growing up with a sister who has autism gave me a different perspective on the world. I always knew I wanted to go into a field where I could help others and build upon the knowledge and experience I gained within my own household.

I feel that my caseload results in not all the children I work with really being supported or indeed safe.

My ultimate dream is to cultivate awareness of social justice issues by continuing to equip and empower the vulnerable and underrepresented populations of our society. Whether it was my personal challenges growing up Black in a predominantly white society, struggling with a biased educational system, providing encouragement to women, or working with people who face barriers to independence, every phase of my life reflects my advocacy for those who have been marginalized by mainstream culture.

I will be leaving soon, as the stress and pressure are too much.

’Choose a job you love and you never have to work a day in your life.’ – Confucius. A career in social work is a gift in that you are allowed into the intimate life’s of wonderful people in your efforts to assist them in their journey of recovery, where victims become survivors, and systems bend to meet the needs of the most vulnerable individuals in our society.

I’m a newly qualified social worker and work 50 hours a week and still don’t get everything done.

I chose Social Work because I have always believed in fighting for human rights. I believe our profession can change the world on so many levels: for each person we have the opportunity to serve, for entire family systems, and the communities where we live. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of a profession that reaches out to our most vulnerable populations and strives to make a difference in so many lives.

My caseload is totally unmanageable. I don’t ever feel like I give a good service to the children and families I work with. I am constantly stressed and worried that I am leaving vulnerable children at risk simply because I don’t have the time and resources to do the basics to protect them. I’m currently in my first year, but am very sadly unsure how much longer I will last in this profession.

High School graduation was in 1969, and I was immersed in progress and social change. I went to college to be a sociology teacher, but, I discovered Social Work, where we learn to make a difference for people, systems, and communities. Social Work ethics and values appealed to my life principles of fairness, justice, and social change. Social Work is a profession that moves me to be a social change agent.

Complexity is not taken into account, just numbers.

Felt it was a natural calling for me. Social work is applicable in all areas; including business, policy, and education.

I only manage if I work significantly more hours than I get paid for.

I wanted a profession where I am able to help empower individuals and families to find solutions, advance changes in social policy, promote social justice, and pull communities together in a way that fosters both human and global well-being. To truly make a difference and to be the change I want to see in the world, I must embrace it with my career. That is why I choose to be a Social Worker.

It’s so hard to fit everything in for a caseload this high. Competing priorities leaves me feeling as though I am always letting someone down.

I chose social work because I have a passion for working with and helping others. I grew up in a home with generous and loving parents, but as I got older, I realized not everyone was as lucky to have such an experience. I want to provide that for children, families, and adults. I want to have a positive impact on someone who needs help and I want to be the one to give them that help.

It is seen as acceptable practice that Child in Need cases can be left months without contact due to the demands of high caseloads and court work.

I was bound to spend my life in the helping professions and when I discovered that Social Work and I shared the same values of social justice, integrity, dignity and worth of all people, and service, it was love at first sight! I love being part of a community with these ethical principles and with the shared perspective of person-in-environment. We’re all interconnected and also a product of our environments.

In social work I think the hardest thing is trying to figure out resources for families when they don't exist. You know, trying to find a family housing when housing is a struggle or mental health services when they don't have insurance. Those are frustrating. When we know this is what this family is going to need to be able to move them forward or be safe with their children, and accessing that type of support is difficult to find for whatever reasons.

I chose social work because the principles and code of ethics are directly in line with my world view. The principles of self-determination, cultural competency, social justice, and advocacy describe my own values. Social work gives me a way to put these values into practice and allows me to have a job that I truly believe in. As social workers we believe that we should be the change, big or small, and have the privilege of working towards this every day.

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