By Lisa Beth Miller, LCSW-R, BCD, Outreach and Referral Coordinator at Lighthouse Guild
Mister Rodgers’ wisdom will never lose its charm. He said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ” His words inspired many of us, to seek help and to become helpers, in neighborhoods everywhere.
March is National Social Work Month, a time to celebrate and honor social workers for the valuable work they do helping individuals, families and communities to face and overcome challenges. The theme for Social Work Month 2020 is “Social Workers: Generations Strong.”
As this new decade begins, all are invited to look back at the impact the social work profession has had on society, as activists, advocates and healers.
What is a Social Worker?
Social work, “the helping profession,” is an academic discipline and profession that aims to enhance social functioning and overall wellbeing. Social workers have master’s degrees and are licensed to assess biological, psychological and social situations, make mental health diagnoses, coordinate care and connect people to resources.
A guiding social work core value is “to meet the client where they’re at.” Essential for wellbeing, people need access to food, clothing, shelter, social supports and medical and mental health treatment. Quality of life improves with discussion of challenging situations and problem solving.
Social workers address urgent and chronic life issues, making sure people can get to their appointments, get their medications and medical equipment and move forward towards personal goals. They also provide psychotherapy.
In order to provide psychotherapy in New York State, social workers must first, among other requirements, receive supervision in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning; meet clinical exam requirements; and complete training in the identification and reporting of child abuse. Social work education provides a framework for problem solving.
Social workers serve in many different roles which include psychotherapists at behavioral health centers who provide individual, couple, family and group therapy; at health centers providing support groups helping patients to remove obstacles to accessing medical and vision care; and at adult day health care programs, assessing and monitoring the bio-psycho-social needs of each client, throughout the day.
They also help at rehabilitation departments, providing emotional support and guidance to individuals seeking education and work, as they establish and pursue their goals.
So, look around and find a social worker to help and encourage neighbors in need of support, today.
To find the helpers New Yorkers can call 311 or access NYC Well, 888-NYC-WELL. Those with concerns about vision loss, can call Lighthouse Guild, 212-769-7820.