Characteristics, Needs, and Types of Clientele and Audiences of Social Work

Marginalization, social justice, and universal human rights and dignity as a starting point, displays right away several classes of people to qualify as clientele and audience of social work: the minorities, elderly, women, children, the poor, people with disability, people with mental health issues, the terminally ill, people in conflict with the law, those with substance abuse and addiction, and people in workplaces who are affected internally or externally with issues that reduce their productive capacities. All of them and many more may constitute the clientele and audience of professional social work.

Characteristics of Clientele and Audiences of Social Work

All people with various social concerns (in terms of being marginalized or experiencing social injustice or having their rights violated or disrespected) share characteristic qualities of the clientele and audience of social work: individuals, families, groups, and communities experiencing being left out or having some personal social problems like loss of job, getting sick especially becoming terminally ill, all those deserving of social welfare benefits, and so on. It is not just about being old and retired, being employed and having concerns in that place of work, being in a health-care facility, home for the elderly, home for street children, drug rehabilitation center, mental health facility, or having conditions that would warrant one to be in such facilities. Being a minority, a migrant, a divorced woman, neglected child, sexually, physically, or mentally abused child, suffering discrimination of any kind characterize one as clientele and audience of social work.

Needs of Various Types of Clientele and Audiences of Social Work

 The needs are generally that of wanting to be empowered, to be socially included by way of insuring that one receives what is legally due him/her and that one receives the necessary care he/she deserves. Some people need their rights respected, some need justice, and others need social welfare help to put them on their feet. Each context of social work discussed in this book reflects a unique type of clientele and audience. However, commonalities do exist.

The Individual as Client of Social Work

We have pointed out that social work can happen on one, two, three, or four levels. The individual level is generally working on an individual who has to be assisted to fit in a larger environment or someone who has been deprived space by the larger environment calling for change in the very environment or simply improving one’s ability to cope with it. 

The Group and Organization as Client of Social Work

Groups are people existing with similar or common identity. Gay men and lesbians, migrants, women, abused or neglected children, elderly, pensioners, veterans, military service men and women, people in conflict with the law, unemployed, people with substance abuse and addiction represent groups that social work may focus its services on. There are also groups such as members of an organization or place of employment, or pupils and students in school setup. We classify them as groups because they form collectivities in terms of level of services they have to receive.

The Community as Client of Social Work

Community has the largest share in the clientele and audience of social work because individuals and families are essentially members of the community. Everything happens in a community and everyone claims membership in the community. A community may exist as a marginalized sector, and in which case, the social work services may gear toward their emancipation and empowerment. In some cases, they may constitute the majority imposing general norms that seek to marginalize minorities and those different from them. In this case, social work may focus on community transformation to cause environmental change so as to make it possible for individuals and groups on the minority to achieve social well-being or social justice and respect for their rights.