There is a complex and diverse set of skills needed to survive in social work. It is not for everyone, and it can often be extremely challenging. It will surely test anyone who chooses it as their career. On the other hand, with such genuine reward of seeing positive change and knowing you are making a genuine difference, social work jobs is a career path worth considering. Here we look at the specific skills needed, not just to survive, but to excel in social work.
- Active Listening: Social work is largely listening. Listening here specifically mean being engaged throughout when a patient or other professional is talking to you. Good listening helps establish trust, and will help clients see you as someone who is taking them seriously, likely leading to more positive results
- Emotional intelligence: This type of intelligence is based in empathy, self-awareness and sensitivity to others. As social work
- is often working on what you know, such as their symptoms or other prominent facts, and combining this with what you are able to intuit, such as their mental wellbeing etc. There must also be a large level of tolerance, which a high emotional intelligence often attributes itself to.
- Critical thinking: People are complex, their problems can be even more so. If you are going to get to the crux of a problem, and therefore truly help a person, you will need to think about problems both critically and creatively. This means working out what works for each patient on an individual basis.
- Setting boundaries: Social work can often be a straining career. With many taking the stresses of their working life back home with them (consciously or not). Setting boundaries with clients can help stop this ‘spilling over’ from occurring. Alongside this, taking time with your own self-care is extremely important. Because, if you can’t help yourself, how can you expect to help others?
- Communication: Social workers involves communicating in many different formats, to many different types of people. Therefore, it is im
portant to know what tone, style and delivery of communication is most relevant for the person you are communicating to. While simultaneously making sure you are always clear and transparent to clients about what help and services are available. This means telling them what is not available, as well as what is.
These five areas are not a full set of skills of what is needed to be an excellent social worker. What it is trying to show you is the diversity of what is needed for success, while seeing how skills which may seem quite different are clearly interlinked, in one way or another.