Social worker jobs are some of the most stressful and time consuming jobs imaginable. It is not always for everyone, but at the same time can also be one of the most rewarding career paths possible, due to the positive change you can have on someone’s life. In this article, I will lay out some of the qualities needed if you are going to succeed in a career as a social worker.
Firstly, a high level of objectivity is often needed for a variety of reasons in social care. A lot of the time, you will be dealing with highly emotional cases and emotional clients, it is paramount that you remain objective and impartial when dealing with high emotions, especially if there is a level of conflict within the situation you are dealing with. Of course, being strictly objective and non-emotional all the time in your role would also not be beneficial, there are times when you need to support clients and service users. In fact, this type of empathy is of equal importance to that of the objectivity. It is a case of knowing what type of support is needed in a given situation. There are times when objectivity will only get you so far, and other times when being emotionally supportive will hinder rather than help.
To survive any amount of time within the world of social work, resilience is key. Emotional overload, whether it takes the form of stress, burning out, compassion fatigue etc. are all very real within this profession. Before embarking on a career in this field, you should at least question yourself on these grounds, and be honest with yourself if you have got the resilience for what this career needs. If you are already a social worker, and you are worried you might be getting too stressed in the role, or something similar, don’t allow it to spiral and become completely unmanageable. Perhaps look at other opportunities within social care.
Finally, it is key to carry a level of professionalism with you, no matter what aspect of your job you are carrying out. Something such as social work, it is very easy for lines to begin to blur. For example as relationships build with clients, that shift away from social worker toward being a friend can occur. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but can become one if this friendship masks you from key information you should be seeing and understanding as a professional, or if it affects your duty of care.
There are of course other qualities and attributes needed to be a social worker, but this at least gives an outline of some of the fundamental qualities that can be expected from you.