Social work is one of the major helping professions in human services today. It is a profession devoted to helping people function the best that they can in their environment. This can mean providing direct services or therapy directly to people (called "clients"). It can also mean working for change to improve social conditions. The phrase "in their environment" points to a distinguishing characteristic of social work – one that sets it apart from other helping professions. Social workers help clients deal not only with how they feel about a situation but also with what they can do about it. (Choices, Careers in Social Work, NASW, 1999).

The overriding goal of La Sierra University’s social work program is to prepare undergraduates for beginning level generalist social work practice. The following broad definition used by our program provides a framework from which to build.

A generalist social work practice social worker is a professionally trained person who can engage persons in their environment in a problem-solving process to affect personal and systemic change.

The knowledge, skills and values of a generalist social work practitioner allow the social worker to work with individuals, families, and groups as well as with the larger systems such as organizations and communities. BSW graduates are qualified to work in a variety of fields:

  • criminal justice system
  • mental health
  • children and youth services
  • schools
  • aging/gerontology
  • health care
  • family service agencies
  • substance abuse programs
  • domestic violence programs
  • developmental disabilities services
  • public welfare (child and adult services)
  • community organization
  • social action

If you have difficulty picturing yourself doing one thing for the rest of your life, professional social work is the career for you.

There are 640,000 professional social workers in the United States who have dedicated their careers to either helping people transform their lives, or improving environments that make such progress possible.

Social Workers champion access, equality and fairness.

Social Workers improve the fabric of society by being advocates for people who need help addressing serious life challenges and exploring their options.

The Social Work profession was established more than 100 years ago to provide as many people as possible with the tools and support they need to overcome adversity (poverty, illness, addiction, abuse, discriminiation, etc.) and reach their full potential.

The Social Work profession also works to change systems and customs that limit the ability of vulnerable individuals and groups to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

The nation's Schools of Social Work promote social work education as a way for socially conscious people to make a significant difference in the world through service and leadership. Every day, Social Workers witness the best and worst of human nature.

A Social Worker's success is often defined by the opportunities people enjoy thanks to their intervention.

Social Workers believe they have a responsibility to effect positive change for the future.

From: National Association of Social Workers