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8 skills you will develop as a social worker

Social workers are highly trained professionals. Their wide skillset reflects the variety and diversity of their work. Read on to find out about some of the skills you will develop as a social worker on the Frontline programme.

Communication

Few careers will bring you into contact with such a varied range of people as social work. The families supported by social workers come from every kind of background and community. Good communication skills are essential to even consider a career in social work, but these will also improve as you become accustomed to engaging others in a wide variety of settings.

Curiosity

Social workers support families in complex and difficult circumstances. Professional curiosity refers both to the ability and will to explore what is happening within a family, without making assumptions or taking things at face value. You will learn how to engage with families, to listen in a compassionate and empathetic way and to ask questions that will generate useful answers.

Collaboration

Social workers work alongside diverse professionals, including teachers, doctors and the police. The ability to collaborate effectively across professions and teams is vital to ensuring that children and their families get the best support possible. You will develop your ability to work in a team and learn how to collaborate with a wide variety of people.

Leadership

Social work is a collaborative effort. A key role of social workers is to help families recognise the need for change and work with them to create a plan for change. Social workers are also advocates for the children and families they work with. From direct work with families to providing your professional opinion in safeguarding reviews or at court, you will learn to construct a persuasive argument and influence the decisions of others.

Reflexivity and self-reflexivity

Helping families find creative solutions to their problems requires an open mind and an awareness of different ways of thinking and behaving. These skills will enable you to recognise your own biases and identify holistic solutions to problems. You will also learn how to get and give honest, critical feedback and respond to it constructively.

Wellbeing and self-care

In order to provide support and care for others, you must first take care of yourself. You will develop your resilience by putting coping mechanisms and self-care strategies in place to better manage emotional challenges.

Professional boundaries

Social work is a challenging profession and sometimes social workers can feel that their work is never complete. What’s more, the deeply personal nature of working with vulnerable families can lead to strong emotional investment. In this role, you will learn how to set boundaries – with families, colleagues and fellow professionals – so that you can carve out important time for self-care to ensure your wellbeing as well as that of those that you support.

Analysis of risk and uncertainty

Safety of the child is paramount in social work, but risk is rarely straightforward or predictable. An incorrect assessment could endanger a child’s life, or it could separate a child from their family unnecessarily. You will learn to analyse the facts and make confident professional judgements in complex, uncertain situations. You will become accustomed to factoring risk assessments into your everyday decisions and develop professional behaviours that minimise risk for families and yourself.