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 What is Social Work?

Social Work is the profession of caring and intervening in the interactions between individuals, groups, and communities to enhance or restore well-being, and create societal conditions that help individuals, groups, and communities enhance their own well-being. Social workers select, use, and develop interventions based on the best available evidence.

 More about Social Work*

Cathy Scott sitting at table with two students

  • Social workers are trained professionals who have a BSW, MSW, or a PhD in social work.
  • All states license or otherwise regulate social work practice. For more information about licensure, go to the Social Work Licensure website.
  • A social service employee, caseworker, or volunteer community worker is not a "social worker" unless he or she has a social work degree.
  • Social workers are America's largest providers of mental health and therapy services.
  • Social workers are often the only mental health care providers serving residents of many poor, rural counties.
  • Social workers practice in many settings: family service agencies, mental health centers, schools, hospitals, corporations, courts, police departments, prisons, public and private agencies, private practice, and as elected officials.


*Adapted from Social Work Myth Busters, National Association of Social Workers, Washington, DC.