It has been recommended that I work with a social worker. How may a social worker help me find the resources that I need?

The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) defines social work as a “practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people.” And, according to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), social work enhances human wellbeing and helps “meet basic and complex needs of all people, with a particular focus on those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.” Social workers work in a wide range of situations, such as mental health clinics, schools, child welfare and human service agencies, hospitals, private practice, libraries, and community development. Their key tasks include identifying people with and without disabilities, families, groups, organizations, and communities in need of help; assessing clients’ needs and identifying their goals; providing psychotherapy services; researching, referring, and advocating for community resources; developing and evaluating programs and services; advocating for policy change at the local, state, and federal levels; and more! In other words, social workers help their clients find the resources and services that they need to live as independently as possible in their communities.

There are several types of social workers, including clinical and non-clinical social workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-clinical social workers only need a “bachelor’s degree in social work, while clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and 2 years of post-master’s experience in a supervised clinical setting and must be licensed in the state in which they practice”. Clinical social workers may provide psychotherapy services and prescribe medications, while non-clinical social workers do not offer these services.

Are you seeking a social worker? The following resources provide information and referral services related to social workers and other community supports for people with disabilities, older adults, families, and service providers:

  • Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADCRs) assist people with disabilities, older adults, and their families learn about and access services and supports. ADRCs provide objective, reliable, and unbiased information, advice, counseling, and assistance; help people access public and private programs, and support people in making informed decisions about their long-term services and supports. To find your local ADRC, you may search Eldercare Locator (see below) by using your zip code in their search feature.
  • Centers for Independent Living are consumer-led organizations supporting the full participation of people with disabilities in their communities. These centers often have social workers on staff or available through affiliated organizations or agencies. Find the Center for Independent Living serving your county.
  • Eldercare Locator is a nationwide service that connects older adults, people with disabilities, their families, and their caregivers with trustworthy local supports. This organization links those who need assistance with state and local agencies, as well as community-based organizations that provide services such as meals, home care, transportation, caregiver training and education, and more. To find the services, including social workers, that you need, use your zip code in their search feature.

To learn more about social work, social workers, or how to find a social worker in your area, please contact NARIC’s information specialists.