Hover mouse over thumbnail image above to view larger image.
Professional social work practice is distinctive from other helping professions in its approach of assisting clients to function optimally within their environments. The person-in-environment approach is central to social work practice. Through this perspective, professional social workers are uniquely trained to help clients maximize the opportunity for change in themselves and/or their situations. The term client encompasses individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
Social work is distinctive also for its professional values and ethics, appreciation for human diversity, emphasis on social and economic justice, understanding of social welfare policy and services, and strong foundation in field education.
Its unique approach to problem-solving and interventions is evidenced in direct clinical practice, policy planning and administration; community-level and state-level services; private and public sectors; and teaching, research, and scholarship.
Many become advocates for change within the systems in which they function; some rally for political action.
While professional social work practice is far-reaching in its scope, a changing world continues to present new challenges and avenues to make a difference. For example, in health care, community-based services and managed-care are becoming prevalent and require the special skills of social workers. Poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, and the generational transmission of domestic violence are issues facing nearly all practitioners. Technology is advancing methods of service delivery and allowing for the creation of new approaches to the traditional notions of relationships.
There is a wealth of opportunity within the profession and the need for professional social workers is strong. The projected job growth through 2016 for social workers overall is 22%; with child, family and school social workers seeing a 19% increase; medical, public and health social workers seeing a 24% increase; and mental health and substance abuse social workers seeing a 30% increase in job growth.
CoursesFinancial Aid Scholarships
Student OrganizationsCareer Services Computing Services Student Web Resources FAQ SSW Job Board Community Involvement Board
Professional Social Work CareersSSW Pride Sheet (PDF) Professional Advisory Committee Our History Getting to the School About Columbia, MO About MU
Field Instructor OrientationsSearch Agencies
AwardsSSW Job Board
Reasons to GiveWhy I Give Ways to Give Make a Gift Online Social Justice Society Development Staff FAQ