Professional social work requires full professional training with a college degree and in a number of cases, requires a person to have a master’s or doctor’s degree in social work. Social work specialization covers five major fields (Hartman 2015):
1. Family and child welfare.
This includes services to families in situations that seriously disrupt family life such as physical or mental illness, unemployment, divorce, in aid of improving client’s family life. In child welfare programs or services such as adoption, daycare, foster child care, and care for children with disabilities and aiding physically or emotionally abused children and their families.
Social workers help patients and their families in clinics, hospitals, and other health-care facilities. They provide physicians information about the social and economic background of patients; help patients and their families deal with the impact of illness and death and counsel patients who have been discharged to help them return to everyday life; provide counseling in maternal and child care; the care for dying patients and victims of certain diseases like HIV or cancer.
3. Mental health.
Social workers provide aid to people suffering from mental and emotional stress and many other services similar to the ones offered by medical social workers. Many have training in psychotherapy, the treatment of mental or emotional disorders using psychological methods.
Social workers in corrections are involved with programs concerned with the prevention of crime and the rehabilitation of criminals and provide counsel to people who are on probation or parole.
Social work in school is part of the program on all levels, from preschool through college. It includes services to students in special schools for individuals with emotional disturbances or physical disabilities. Social workers in schools provide vocational counseling, school adjustment counseling, and help with behavioral management and personal problems. They also assist students who have learning difficulties and help them work to their potential.