Learn about the 600,000 professionals working to get the down-and-out back on their feet.
They’re in our schools, our prisons, our hospitals. They work in adoption centers, shelters, clinics—600,000 of them in all. Professional social workers are embedded in communities across the United States, working hard every day to help people overcome addiction, abuse, divorce, grief, mental illness, unemployment, poverty, and more. Pillars Community Health employs 244 staff in the western and southwestern suburbs, and many of them have advanced degrees in social work.
Facts About Social Work
March is National Social Work Month, a time to learn more about the profession and to celebrate social workers’ successes. Did you know? Social workers:
- Have earned social work degrees (Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral) and completed hours of supervised fieldwork
- Are trained to evaluate and treat mental illnesses (psychotherapy) and can provide case management, hospital discharge planning, and advocacy for families
- Do not all work in government/with welfare—in fact, fewer than 3 percent do
- Advocated for social justice initiatives like the Voting Rights Act and the Community Mental Health Act
- Pushed for programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the National Association of Social Workers. More facts about social work can be found on their website, www.socialworkers.org.
Social Work Video
Pillars has released a short video explaining the work and passion of today’s social workers:
Slides: Pillars Celebrates…National Social Work Month.
We asked two of our staff to explain social work to us.
Here’s what they had to say…
Michael Krusinsky, licensed clinical social worker: We start with somebody who is having some sort of problem and then we sort of work our way out to think about maybe what kind of social pieces we could fix.
Slide: Hmm…what makes that different from psychiatry and psychology?
Anna Padron Sikora, licensed clinical social worker: So a psychiatrist is the MD, so he’s a doctor and the only one that can prescribe medication in our field. The psychologist has additional training. And so they are the ones that focus on psychological testing for individuals.
Slide: OK so no testing, no medication. What do you focus on?
Padron Sikora: A social worker, a lot of their clinical training has to do with meeting clients where they’re at. And so it could be examples of advocacy, it could be therapy, it could be helping them connect to other systems—so those are just some examples.
Slide: So you provide social justice for individuals. Don’t you work for the government?
Padron Sikora: I think one of the biggest myths is that the majority of the social workers work for government agencies. And we actually have master’s degrees and do clinical work in a variety of settings. So we could be in schools, we could be in community mental health or in hospitals, we could be in the jail system. So really social workers are embedded in a lot of different places in society.
Slide: What made you pursue social work?
Krusinsky: I went into social work because I was studying aerospace engineering in undergrad. And I realized one day when I was coming home from class that I kind of hated what I did. And I had a passion for solving problems. So I decided to study philosophy and then I took it to the next step and went for a master’s in social work. Solving problem is what I do.
Slide: Where did you get your passion for social work?
Padron Sikora: I’ve always had a natural passion for helping people. And so I didn’t know of this career until I got into undergrad and then eventually got into a master’s program. But it’s really about listening to people, caring about people, and then really wanting to help them connect to resources.