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What Are the Best Tips for Improving Social Work Skills?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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Social workers are constantly tasked with the responsibility of maintaining a positive attitude and constructive mentality even when their clients are dead set against both sentiments. It may be necessary to periodically improve social work skills or at least refresh one's approach to difficult situations. One way to do so is to learn how to identify the client's fears, motivations, needs, and desires. This means being an active listener--listening to the client's words and retaining that information. Such social work skills can be improved by practicing them in any setting, even with family and friends.

Identifying the client's needs and desires is only the first step in a long process. As a social worker, it is necessary to improve social work skills by establishing strong and useful contacts within the field. This means researching mental health professionals, drug rehabilitation centers, police officers, child care professionals, and more so that the social worker has a useful directory of people who can help at a moment's notice. Some of the most important social work skills revolve around referrals and knowing who can help the client when the social worker can't. A good social worker will have established contacts who will have the right answer when the social worker does not.

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Of course, helping a client develop his or her own support system is just as important as having one for the social worker, if not more important. It helps if the social worker can encourage the client to build his or her own support system, and guide that person through the process of finding dependable people and ensuring those people are open to helping when necessary. This can be daunting for a client, so the social worker will need to exercise patience and understanding throughout the process. The client will usually need support and, in some cases, direct help when building a support network among peers.

Communication skills are perhaps the most important social work skills a professional can develop. The social worker will need to develop a trusting relationship with the client and must be able to express constructive ideas to help the client through difficult situations. The social worker with the best intentions but no communication skills will fail every time because the client will not listen to or trust that person. Courses at community colleges may focus on improving communication skills through conversation exercises or even public speaking exercises. These classes are great ways to improve communication skills quickly and efficiently.

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candyquilt
Post 3

@serenesurface-- I agree with this. I worked with a social worker in the past and he was always so composed. He was understanding and kind, but also extremely professional and in control.

He seemed to think of everything thoroughly and very good at identifying the problem. He was kind of like an analyst, definitely used a lot of logic and reasoning skills.

serenesurface
Post 2

@donasmrs-- It is a good thing to be compassionate and to try to understand others. Someone who doesn't have these qualities cannot survive in this field.

But you are absolutely right that you can't take things personally or get very affected by them. You have to remember that you are there to help them. You must remain calm and focus on the task at hand. Listen to the stories to understand the facts and to analyze the information for possible solutions. Try to detach yourself from those feelings though.

You see, your clients, they are depending on you and how you act towards them will also impact how they view their own situation. Remaining calm and positive will have a very beneficial effect on them and they will also feel calmer and hopeful.

I also recommend taking a course on dealing with traumatized individuals. It will help you immensely.

donasmrs
Post 1

I recently started a job which involves interviewing traumatized and sensitive individuals.

The most difficult thing for me so far has been detaching myself from my emotions while I work. Although I understand that empathy and compassion are very important in this line of work, I also cannot get carried away when I'm working.

Some of these individuals have such sad stories and they are utterly devastated and crying during the interviews. I do get affected. I really feel what they're feeling and sometimes it takes me a few minutes to get myself back together. I find this difficult, remaining normal while I listen to these stories.

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