Social workers help people find lasting solutions to their problems. They deal with the life challenges of their clients on a daily basis.
Social workers help people with difficult life situations. For example, they help people living with family violence or poverty, or who can no longer live on their own. Social workers help them find ways to solve their problems.
Social workers are trained to understand human behaviour and the kinds of problems people face in life. They often work with special groups of people, such as teens. They can analyze difficult life situations and develop programs to help people experiencing these difficulties.
They often work with other specialists, such as doctors, teachers, lawyers and psychologists, to help people who are having problems.
Social workers also act as family mediators. In cases of separation or divorce, social workers can help parents agree on a solution that works for them and their children.
What are the qualities of a good social worker?
Social workers must have compassion for others, as well as the following skills:
- ability to listen and really understand someone’s problems, suggest ways to solve the problem, and communicate well with people
- ability to be open to others, respect their values and analyze their situation without judging
- ability to defend the rights of others
Social workers help people understand and solve their problems. They direct them to available resources if needed.
These are the main duties of social workers:
- meet with people, alone or in groups, to learn about their problems and to decide what services they need
- give advice and help people learn skills to solve their problems
- develop programs to help people
- act as family mediators
Social workers work in community centres, health centres, shelters, youth centres, prisons and schools.
They often work with other specialists, including doctors, teachers, lawyers and psychologists.
Social workers need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work or social services. Several Quebec universities offer these programs.
“Social worker” is a title reserved only for members of the Ordre des travailleurs sociaux et des thérapeutes conjugaux et familiaux du Québec (OTSTCFQ), which is the professional association for social workers. Only members of this association are allowed to work as social workers and they need a university degree.
Some people might choose a CEGEP vocational program in social service instead of a university degree. A CEGEP diploma in social service lets them do work similar to what social workers do, but they can’t call themselves “social workers.”
The Ordre des travailleurs sociaux et des thérapeutes conjugaux et familiaux du Québec (OTSTCFQ) is the professional association of social workers in Quebec. It regulates and monitors the professional activities of social workers. Its website (French only) has information for its members and the general public, including information for young people thinking of becoming social workers.
Emploi Québec’s Information sur le marché du travail website (job market information) has information about social workers, the work they do, job prospects and necessary training.
The Service Canada website explains what social workers do, where they work and the training they need.