Social Worker

Philosophy Career Portfolio: Social Worker

  1. Introduction

It is always fulfilling to accomplish one’s goals in life, especially when it comes to career and life. Following a long and often unbridled wave of campus life, the ultimate objective is to secure a vocation that is not only well known but is also revered and aligns with one’s individual career goals. I aspire to become a social worker, a profession that I have admired and loved since my developmental years in elementary school. Despite the contemporary perception that the current job market can appeal to, recruit, and train suitable personnel, I am still of the ideology that all vocations require program-related skills. For instance, social work requires inherent skills in communication, which involves cultural sensitivity, presentation, and defense of a stance, and summarization of results (University of Toronto 2019, 1). Secondly, social workers have to possess critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Here, social workers have to learn to read analytically, reason rationally, synthesize the ideas, identify paramount issues in problem-solving or decision-making, and weigh the options, as well as pinpoint solutions. Thirdly, social workers have to possess information gathering and research skills and techniques. As a social worker, one has to possess the capability of interpreting data or relationships, and reading and assessing complicated outcomes (University of Toronto 2019, 2). Besides, one has to work autonomously, while simultaneously identifying needs and problems. Finally, the issue of ethics and values is critical to being a good social worker; he or she identifies and elucidates values through reflecting on individual values and morals in a disciplined manner. These are the strengths that I possess, which make me believe I will be a prominent, contemporary social worker in society as I climb to the apex of holding a prestigious seat, probably at the United Nations to work for the entire globe.

  • Rationale for selecting social work as the vocation of choice

Social workers offer valuable services that can improve the quality of life for the recipients or clients. Through assisting others with issues ranging from adjustment to social interactions and other problems, dedicated social work professionals can influence positive differences all over the globe (Berg-Weger 1). There are various compelling reasons to specialize in social work as a career path. Essentially, it is possible to summarize the drive that influences one to become a social worker into the following: 1) the idea of helping others in society is both noble and likable; 2) advocating for people in disadvantaged positions is an outstanding lifetime accomplishment, and 3) offering mental health services to people who need them is a great service to humanity (Berg-Weger 1). Social work is distinct among the helping vocations because it involves collaborating with and helping the other professions, for example, health, to sow and foster core values, which is due to its wide scope traversing economic and social justice.

Besides, being a social worker practically alludes to attaining a sense of accomplishment. Through working with individuals to solve severe issues within their lives, a social worker can attain a positive impact not only on the clients they serve directly but also on society as a whole (Ambrosino, Heffernan and Shuttlesworth 48). It is possible to gain a sense of pride and achievement after dedicating one’s life to assisting others and in the process, attaining positive outcomes for individuals and communities. As outlined by Forbes Magazine, globally, social work supervisors are ranked seventh in the classification of the most meaningful occupations in the world (7). In other words, social work is one of the most fulfilling, yet functional vocations globally. Hence, it makes sense to venture into the sphere.

Also, as per the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projections for social work positions over the next seven years is faster-than-average. More specifically, healthcare social workers are projected to be highly demanded, with an approximately 27 percent rise in employment opportunities from 2012 to 2022 (Bureau of Labor and Statistics 1).   Similarly, in Canada, the overall employment of social workers was projected to rise by around 11 percent between 2018 and 2028, which is a more rapid growth as compared to other vocations (Bureau of Labour Statistics Canada 1).  The employment boom is expected to be driven by increased demand for social services and healthcare, although it will be bound by specialization. The bottom line is that, besides passion, the expected increase of employment opportunities for social workers is an appeal to pursue the vocation.

Finally, a drive to pursue social work is the degree of autonomy it accords an individual. Most social workers tend to function with relative independence when providing services or dealing with clients, regardless of whether they are individuals or families (Berg-Weger 2). For instance, a clinical social worker has the freedom to open his practice, which permits him to enjoy control over his office working hours, the environment of work, and the clients he selects to work with. Even in governmental and educational ranks, social workers tend to enjoy a significant level of flexibility concerning setting their schedules and often spend a considerable proportion of their time meeting and interacting with clients away from the office. The added measure of autonomy gives social work an allure that many cannot neglect, especially if they are mothers or working parents who desire more, flexible time for their obligations. Thus, social work is the ideal career path.

  • Brief history of social work in Canada

Essentially, social work describes the practice of assisting individuals, groups, families, and communities in improving their collective and individual wellbeing (Drover 1). It helps individuals to enhance their skills and capacity to utilize their resources and those of the community to resolve problems. Practiced social work was instigated in nineteenth-century England and possesses its roots in the economic and social upheaval fashioned by the Industrial Revolution, more specifically, the societal battle to address the ensuing mass urban-based scarceness and its associated challenges. As outlined by Ehrenreich, states struggle to contain the challenges that were brought about by political and economic resolutions, which effectively reflected the social interventions designed to help the individuals and the communities to attain their objectives and the societal expectations for their welfare (15). Social work started as an initiative to address the broader challenges of family violence, unemployment, and poverty, which faced most societies. Currently, social work is related to voluntary assistance and charities to those who are needy, as well as the citizenship freedoms of the welfare nation and public service provision.

In Canada, before 1867, social work meant whatever it did in the United States and Great Britain, which was the relief of those stricken with poverty and was generally believed to be the outcome of weakness of individual character (Drover 1). The belief was illustrated in a London Charity Organization Publication, which stated that, when the head of a household makes no provision before his demise, then part of the responsibility automatically goes to his wife, and it remained doubtable whether the widow should be relieved of the repercussions of charitable aid (Drover 1). In 1881, the Associated Charities, which was a partner group of a movement instigated in England in 1869, came into being in Canada. In contrast with similar organizations, it emphasized on the significance of systematic investigation as opposed to the mere provision of relief. Subsequently, by 1912, the municipal social-service commissions started replacing Associated Charities, which was through the popularization of social casework techniques of investigation, which was by Mary Richmond’s followers (Drover 2). Richmond was one of the pioneers of the American Associated Charities. The University of Toronto established a training package for social workers in 1914, which was then followed by an identical program offered by McGill University (Bakos-Block 31). In the 1920s and 1930s, social work as a profession experienced a slow, yet steady advancement, with the remarkable event of the formation of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) in 1926. Its members were drawn principally from family and child welfare agencies, settlement homes, and municipal departments.

Consequently, during the Great Depression that lasted most of the 1930s, there were heavy demands on social-work agencies. However, governments remained reluctant to enhance the progress of trained social work professionals in the higher institutes of learning (Bakos-Block 31; Drover 2). During that period, only two new training programs were sanctioned, which were in 1928 at the University of British Columbia and in 1939 at Université de Montréal. Following the end of World War II, social work expanded as a profession, which was catalyzed primarily by the advancement of health care, social security, pensions, disability special services, homes for the aged, and hospital insurance (Drover 2). Typically, the agencies employed social work professionals, and the growth was particularly robust during the 1960s and the 1970’s when the Canadian welfare state started to align its social entitlements with citizenship rights as opposed to charity. Subsequently, the 1996 census reported approximately 85,955 social work and social service personnel, which was a significant rise form the 1941 figure of 1,767 (Drover 2). By 2000, Canada had at least 34 social work schools of higher learning. Several principal reformers helped to develop the social work profession in Canada. For example, there are individuals like J. S. Woodsworth, Charlotte Whitton, the mayor of Ottawa and a child-welfare activist, Georges-Henri Levesque, who established social work in the province of Quebec, and Harry Cassidy, who was a director and writer at the University of Toronto (School of Social Work) (Drover 2). Without their efforts, social work would have been bypassed like other small vocations.

  • How social work relates to the economy

  Social work and the economy are directly correlated. Overall, the economic status of a state will tend to dictate its social policies (Lombard and Twikirize 1). A strong, growing economy has a positive influence on the majority of workers regardless of the profession. More specifically, Lombard and Twikirize undertook a study where they established that case studies from Uganda and South Africa demonstrate that developmental social work is inclusive of environmental, economic, and social development activities, with social work forming a critical component in enhancing economic and social equality through its dedication to human rights and social justice (1). Even though Uganda does not regulate social work as a professional vocation, it nevertheless applied the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to develop social work frameworks that aligned with the economic structures.

Essentially, social work represents a partner in the world of economic development. In any society, it is the responsibility of the social worker to identify the challenges and the needs of a particular community and establish workable solutions for resolving them (Berg-Weger 3). The social work profession contributes to the economy mostly from the perspective of a welfare state that is obligated to uplift the standard of the wellbeing of community members. Social work professionals can work individually or collectively to help develop health care policies, which can reduce the cost of health across the country (Lombard and Twikirize 12). Social work addresses the complex, multiple transactions regarding individuals and their environments, aiming to enable the people to attain their full potential, deter dysfunction, and enrich their lives. However, in Canada, most of the professional social workers offer government services such as utilities, solutions to personal and group problems, and guiding society. Overall, the profession contributes to the mental, physiological, and general wellbeing of the economy through enhancing lives.

  • Professional Closure

Witz states that the association between professionalism and gender has been neglected, and that female professional initiatives have been overlooked mostly in the sociology of vocations (675). At first glance, the notion by Witz seems to be factual, since approximately 85 percent of the professional social worker proportion in Canada comprises females (Bureau of Labour Statistics Canada 1). The presumption is that profession is an engendered perception that adopts the form that those successful professional initiatives of class-privileged male agents at particular points in history and societies are the classical cases of profession. However, through comparison, a competing profession such as nursing demonstrates a clear trend towards adoption by males than was the case in the past. While only eight percent of nurses in Canada were male in 2017, the overall trend shows that there is a gradual improvement, which is not necessarily driven by gendered perceptions, but other factors such as greater awareness, occupation competitiveness, and probability of career expansion (Bureau of Labour Statistics Canada 2). 

Besides, there are other factors to consider. For instance, beyond the role of management, experts have questioned the male suitability for social work for rationales ranging from suitability working with children and the male suitability for social work (Berg-Weger 23). Some male practitioners and students report exclusion experiences, while women tend to decline to work alongside them on complicated cases on the unequivocal excuse of gender. For instance, in child abuse cases involving young girls and women, female social workers have a higher probability of being retained as opposed to their male counterparts. Here, the aspect of social work ethics and values comes into perspective. For long, social work has buttressed gender as supporting the traditions of philanthropy, humanism, and traditions of feminism, as well as advocating for the needs and rights of women. The tradition continues transcending to date.

  • Regulatory bodies for social work in Canada

In Canada, social work represents a profession regulated by provincial law. Specifically, the legislation is referred to as the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, which was ratified in 1998 and is administered by the Ministry of Community and Social Services (McGill School of Social Work 1). Every province possesses its distinct regulatory and organizational body. The organizations, in turn, elect a member to sit on the board of the CASW. The organizations’ regulation falls under the mandate of the Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators, and the CASW has membership to the International Federation of Social Workers.

The Canadian Association of Social Workers. The CASW is tasked with providing professional advancement to its members, offering timely responses to issues considered national, publishing papers and reports on issues pertinent to the profession, promoting social justice and influencing social policy through government and stakeholder relations (Canadian Association of Social Workers 1). Other responsibilities include publishing the Canadian Social Work Journal, offering unparalleled professional insurance initiatives in the country, upholding the CASW guidelines and code of ethics, and representing the state in the caucus of the International Federation of Social Workers. Also, CASW examines the credentials of Canadian social workers trained abroad and recognizers the professional social workers who provide outstanding service across the country. The mission of the regulatory body is to “promote and strengthen the profession of social work in Canada and advance social justice” ( Canadian Association of Social Workers 1).   

The body was established in 1926 to oversee the employment conditions of professional social workers in the country and to create standards of practice for the professionals (Canadian Association of Social Workers 1). Currently, the body comprises nine provincial and territorial collaborative organizations.

Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators (CCSWR). The mission of the CCSWR is “to be the national and international voice on social work regulatory matters in Canada” (Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators 1). The CCSWR has the objectives of demonstrating leadership through working to establish and preserve an effective forum essential for information exchange ( Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators 1). Additionally, the CCSWR is tasked with identifying, considering, and making pronunciations on issues pertinent to the regulation of professional social work. It also responds to issues associated with the regulation or licensure of international and national significance, as well as supporting the advancement of national standards for assessing competence in professional social work practice. Finally, the body also develops different perspectives on the regulation of social work, performs social work initiatives of national interest, and collaborates with relevant state organizations and agencies.

International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW). The IFSW’s mission is “to become a global organization striving for social justice, human rights and social development through the promotion of social work, best practice models and the facilitation of international cooperation” (International Federation of Social Workers 1).

The provincial and territorial regulatory bodies of social works in Canada cover the rest of the provinces and states, offering guidelines for the social work profession and advancements in personal and career growth. While Canada has various provincial and territorial colleges that offer professional social work training, it also has a collective umbrella, which is known as the Canadian Association of School Social Workers & Attendance Counsellors (CASSWAC), which was established in 1982 (Canadian Association of Social Workers 2). The body was established to promote and encourage the advancement of quality school social work, as well as attendance counseling throughout the country. In terms of roles, the body is tasked with:

1. Being a national organization tasked with linking attendance counselors and social workers

2. Holding a national conference every two years across the country to raise pertinent issues that touch on social school work

3. Conveying news and messages of concern of present trends

4. Speaking on national and international matters affiliated with social work

5. Raising awareness of the importance of social work within the school system

In Canada, the provincial and territorial jurisdictions have distinct regulatory bodies that oversight them in a variety of ways. To demonstrate how the provincial regulatory bodies for professional social workers operate in Canada, it is essential to apply a single province as a case study, which is Alberta. The province’s regulatory body mission is, “Together we represent, strengthen and celebrate the social work profession and fulfill the regulatory requirements of the Health Professions Act” (Alberta College of Social Works 1). The Alberta College of Social Workers is the regulatory body for professional social work in the whole of Alberta (McGill School of Social Work 2). Its supervisory obligations can be found in the Health Professions Act that was sanctioned on April 1st, 2003. The HPA possesses requirements for compulsory registration, practicing restricted activities, perpetuating competency activities, and a distinct domain for social workers falling under the clinical field. The ACSW offers control of title, including a widely defined scope of practice. 

Under the Health Professions Act mandated obligations of provincial regulatory bodies, for instance, the ACSW, there are the following:

  1. To offer direction and regulation of the social work profession
  2. To serve and safeguard the interest of the public
  3. To create, preserve, and implement the standards of registration, standards of practice, and continuing competence
  4. To create, preserve, and implement an acceptable code of ethics
  5. To support educational initiatives for the purpose of registration

Also, the ACSW represents the overall social work vocation in the province of Alberta. It augments membership activities that encourage skilled and ethical professional practice like regional and events and annual conferences (Canadian Association of Social Workers 2). Under its control, the body’s members are encouraged to meet around issues of interest like gerontology, private practices, health, and issues touching on children. To counterpart its lawful obligations, the ACSW buttresses for programs, policies, and services that are of public interest. Since its inception, the body has fostered relationships with many external entities that are actively involved in promoting the initiatives of social justice. Akin to other provincial regulatory bodies, the ACSW has a governing Council comprising ten individuals who are elected by the members, as well as four public entities selected by the government for appointment.

  • Target Audience of professional social workers and the fiduciary relationship

Professional social workers interact with a variety of clients drawn from different backgrounds in society. For instance, they interact with policymakers, children, adults with diverse conditions, and different genders, as well as other assorted demographics like age and economic background (Bakos-Block 16). As such, the social worker needs to act in the best interest of the client. For example, when it comes to the vulnerable members of the community such as abused children, the social worker is obligated to safeguard the interests of those clients at all times and not to subject them to actions that might cause them harm. As per the CASW code of conduct, the social workers are bound by professionalism to observe the dignity and confidentiality of their clients at all times, at least to the degree allowed by the Constitution ( Canadian Association of Social Workers 2).

Besides, the code of ethics requires social workers to inform or warn potential victims in the case that their client poses a potential threat to other people. The duty to warn is safeguarded by the law and is a component of the code of ethics for practicing social work professionals in Canada (Canadian Association of Social Workers 2). However, social workers are restricted from maintaining romantic relationships with existing or previous clients to safeguard integrity. Similarly, social workers should report suspected or confirmed cases of abuse or neglect, especially among vulnerable members of society. The protection goes beyond mere health and social wellbeing. For instance, in November 2018, a newspaper reported that a Canadian social worker called Robert Riley Saunders faced litigation as a component of a class-action suit over allegations that he diverted funds meant for susceptible First Nations Youth to his accounts (Proctor 1). Overall, the social workers deal with virtually all members of society depending on the need at the moment.

  • Ethical Issues

Social workers face many ethical issues during their practice. Often, they have to make complicated decisions while preserving professional boundaries and resolving the issues (Brill 2; Reamer 164). Ethical issues occur in the spheres of the client, practice environment, other professionals, the society, and the profession itself. In terms of the clients, the fiduciary relationship requires one to perform the level best that optimizes the outcome for the client. However, there might be resultant issues like privacy, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, and respect for professional boundaries. Professionals face a dilemma regarding whether to report various issues under the “duty to warn” doctrine or maintain confidentiality.

Also, colleagues might be a source of ethical concern. As individuals interact with others during practice, they are required to collaborate, yet maintain professional conduct, for example, avoiding sexual relationships (Brill 3). Here, reporting unethical conduct to the CASW could be difficult for colleagues who have created a relationship over a long time. Ethical considerations in practice environments might be complicated during certain times. Some legal and ethical issues in the practice environment might include staying current with the industry changes, dual relationships between subordinates and their supervisors, and upholding ethical billing practices, for example, avoiding the practice of double-billing clients (Brill 4). In society, ethical issues arise because social workers might have conflicting commitments with society’s expectations. Social workers have to enhance public welfare and social justice and avoid activities promoting prejudice or inequality. Here, they are effectively prohibited from demonstrating political actions that could change the situation.       

From a world view, I deem the social vocation as one that requires absolute commitment and not mere ambition to rise to a particular organizational position. The basis of social work is the promotion of social justice, public welfare, and inclusion. Simply possessing a passion in people will not help much devoid of these principal foundations. In the present world, social work has emerged as a critical source of information for policymakers and a pillar for society in terms of satisfying their basic needs that the state might have neglected. Therefore, I see social work as a special profession whose acquisition of knowledge only serves to augment the already innate characteristics that one possesses. Hence, it is essential to cultivate the traits necessary for social work before deciding to take it into practice; it cannot be taught in college in entirety.

  • Character of the professional

Finally, the professional social worker has to possess certain characteristics that are essential for the vocation (Martin 148). Character explanations of individuals allude to their flaws or possession of distinct failings that are manifested in their actions. Positive attributes that define the overall character traits of the agent are essential for presenting a viable agent of social work. For example, there are positive traits like empathy, setting of boundaries, persuasion, coordination, organization, self-consciousness, active listening, and compassion, which define a good social work agent. 

Appendix 1

Figure 1: CASW’s webpage showing its mission and roles

Source: Adapted from the Canadian Association of Social Workers (1)

Appendix 2

Figure 2: CCSWR’s webpage showing its roles

Adapted from: Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators (1)

Appendix 3

Figure 3: IFSW’s webpage

Adapted from: International Federation of Social Workers (1)

Appendix 4: First Three Pages of the CASW Code of Conduct

Works Cited

“About ACSW.” Alberta College of Social Works, 2019, www.acsw.ab.ca/. Accessed 5 Nov. 2019.

“About IFSW.” International Federation of Social Workers, 2019, https://www.ifsw.org/about-ifsw/. Accessed 5 Nov. 2019.

Ambrosino, Rosalie, et al. Empowerment Series: Social Work and Social Welfare. Cengage Learning, 2015.

Bakos-Block, Christine R. “Perspectives on Social Work.” The Journal of the Doctoral Students of the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, vol. 9, no. 2, 2013, pp. 1-77.

Berg-Weger, Marla. Social Work and Social Welfare: An Invitation. Routledge, 2013.

Brill, Carol Kopeikin. “Looking at the Social Work Profession through the Eye of the NASW Code of Ethics.” Research on Social Work Practice, 2001, pp. 1-8.

“Canada Social Worker Statistics.” Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 2018,www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm. Accessed 5 Nov. 2019.

Drover, Glenn. Social Work. 2013. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/social-work. Accessed 5 Nov. 2019.

Ehrenreich, John. The Altruistic Imagination: A History of Social Work and Social Policy in the United States. Cornell University, 2014.

Forbes Magazine. No. 7 Most Meaningful Job (tie): Social Work Supervisor, 2019, www.forbes.com/pictures/fjle45lhem/no-7-most-meaningful-job/. Accessed 5 Nov. 2019.

Lombard, Antoinette, and Janestic M Twikirize. “Promoting social and economic equality: Social workers’ contribution to social justice and social development in South Africa and Uganda.” International Social Work, 2014, doi.org/10.1177/0020872814525813.

Martin, Mike W. Meaningful Work: Rethinking Professional Ethics. Oxford University Press, 2000.

McGill School of Social Work. Professional Organizations. McGill School of Social Work 2019.

Lnpprogramnearme (2022) Retrieved from https://lpnprogramnearme.com/

“Objects of the CCSWR.” Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators, 2017, http://www.ccswr-ccorts.ca/about-us/. Accessed 5 Nov. 2019.

Phlebotomy Classes Near You (2023) Retrived from https://phlebotomyclassesnearyou.com/

Proctor, Jason. Children’s advocate investigating 14 files on social worker’s alleged theft from teens, 18 Nov. CBC News.

Reamer, Frederic G. “The Evolution of Social Work Ethics: Bearing Witness.” Advances in Social Work, Vol. 15, No.1, 2014, pp. 163-181.

“Social Worker in Canada.” Bureau of Labour Statistics Canada, 2018, www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/outlook-occupation/23025/ca. Accessed 5 Nov. 2019.

University of Toronto. Careers by Major – Philosophy. 2019. Nov. 05, 2019. <https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/careers/careers-by-major-philosophy. Accessed 5 Nov. 2019.

“What We Do.” Canadian Association of Social Workers, 2019, https://www.casw-acts.ca/en. Accessed 5 Nov. 2019.

Witz, Anne. “Patriarchy and Professions: The Gendered Politics of Occupational Closure.” Sociology, vol. 24, no. 4, 1990, pp. 675-690.

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