Nature, Scope, Goals, and Functions of Professional Social Work



  1. Introduction
  2. Nature of Social Work 
  3. Scope of Social Work 
  4. Function of Social Work 
  5. Goals of Social Work 
  6. Personal Attitude of the Worker
  7.  Social Work and Ethics 
  8. Ideologies of Professional Social Work 
  9. Spirituality and Social Work
  10. Summary


 Social work has varied meanings for different people. For some, social work is (shramadan), while for others, it is charity or disaster assistance. Services such as road, constructing, or cleaning a house or its surroundings will fall under the category of (shramadan). However, all of these are not necessarily social labor. Social work assists people with behavioral issues, such as children's marital issues and chronic patient rehabilitation issues.

The following are some of the reasons for misconceptions:

1) Social workers are unable to distinguish between western professional and traditional religious aspects of their employment.

2) Terminology has not developed because social workers are preoccupied with day-to-day problems.

3) The majority of the findings are obtained from social sciences, therefore precision and accuracy are weak.

4) Social work is concerned with issues about which even the average person has preconceived notions.

5) To add to the confusion, politicians, actors, and cricketers refer to some of their promotional campaigns as social work. Trained social workers are paid and voluntary, while untrained social workers are not, but both work side by side. Laypeople frequently do not understand the differences between the types of activities that fall under the label of social work, which are carried out by a diverse group of people from various backgrounds.

Nature of Social Work 

Some people are dealing with personal or family issues. They may be unable to tackle these problems on their own at times. As a result, they require outside assistance. Such assistance is provided by professionals. The person seeking assistance is referred to as a client, and the professional person assisting him is referred to as a social worker. Social case work is the term for such tasks.

The customer should be motivated to improve himself or herself. In social work, being willing to receive aid is a requirement. The client's own efforts to improve his position are merely supplemented by the social worker. He respects the client's right to self-determination by not imposing his advise or solution on them. Clients should not feel superior to social workers, nor should they be despised by them. They should have empathy, which means they should try to understand the circumstances of the client by putting themselves in her shoes. They should not, however, feel as if they are the client. The client's feelings must be understood and accepted by the social worker.

Hundreds of individuals contribute money and goods to support victims of catastrophes and natural calamities. They will not come into contact with the victims directly. This is commonly referred to as social service because it entails assisting the helpless. However, in social work, face-to-face interaction between the professional and the client is critical. In some cases, with addition to providing temporary relief, the social worker also assists in the improvement of interpersonal relationships and the resolution of adjustment issues associated to disasters and natural calamities. Social work is the type of involvement required to address deeper difficulties and other relationship challenges.

Scientific Base of Social Work

The practice of social work has a solid scientific foundation. Social workers do not consider that knowledge is valuable in and of itself. Social work is based on a scientific body of knowledge, although one that has been drawn from several fields in the social and biological sciences. There are three categories of knowledge in social work, like in any other discipline.
1) Knowledge that has been put to the test. 
2) Hypothetical knowledge that must be converted into empirical knowledge. 
3) Assumptive information, which is practical wisdom, must be transformed into hypothetical knowledge, which must then be evaluated.

Sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science, economics, biology, psychiatry, law, and medicine are all used to supplement the knowledge. All disciplines have made significant contributions to our understanding of human nature. This expertise is put to use by social workers to help their clients address challenges.

Humanitarianism is at the heart of social work. It is referred to as "Scientific Humanism" since it is founded on scientific principles. Social work is built on a set of ideals that, when put together, form the "Philosophy of Social Work." Social work is built on a belief in the individual's inherent value and dignity. Man is revered because he is a human being, not because he is wealthy or powerful. Human nature bestows worth and dignity on each individual, which must be respected by all other humans. Discrimination based on caste, color, ethnicity, sex, or religion is prohibited in social work.

Social work is opposed to "Social Darwinism" and the "survival of the fittest" idea. This means that social workers do not assume that only the strong would survive and the weak will perish in society. For social workers, those who are weak, disabled, or in need of care are equally essential. Regardless of psychological, societal, or economic differences, the individual is seen as a whole with equal worth and dignity. The social worker believes in the individual's capacity while also acknowledging individual variances. The importance of individual self-determination is emphasized. He needs to be understood from both a household and a cultural standpoint. "Idealism and realism" are combined in social work. Individuals are vital to a social worker, but society is also crucial. Social conditions have a significant impact on an individual's personality. However, the individual must ultimately face responsibility for his or her actions and behavior. The worker must resolve the issue that is causing the client to be upset. As a result, social work is fundamentally a problem-solving profession.

Scope of Social Work 

The goal of social work is to assist people who are in need in developing the ability to solve their problems on their own. It's both a science and a work of art. Social work is science in the sense that a social worker's body of knowledge is made up of knowledge from other disciplines, and she/he uses this theoretical foundation to help people, i.e., for practice. It is necessary to put theory into practice. Skill refers to the ability to perform the task. As a result, professional social work must be developed into a professional service using selected knowledge and a set of social work ideals.

A social worker must build a favorable relationship with the people she serves. She should be able to conduct interviews and compose reports. She/he should be able to diagnose, that is, determine the source of the problem, and then devise a treatment strategy. The four key steps involved in social work are assessing the problem, preparing for its solution, implementing the plan, and evaluating the outcome. The social worker's genuine desire to assist the client will not solve the situation on its own. She should be able to assist her customers. His/her will be able to comprehend how to aid people using social work practices. The following are some examples of social work methods: 
1) social casework 
2) Participation in social groups. 
3) Participation in community activities. 4) Research in social work. 5) Administration of social assistance. 6) Participation in social activities

The first three are referred to as direct aid methods, while the latter three are referred to as secondary or auxiliary aid ways. These six social work practices are systematic and well-thought-out approaches to assisting others.
Individual problems, whether in the context of the entire environment or as a component of it, are the focus of social case work. A person becomes entangled in an issue when he is unable to deal with it on his own due to circumstances beyond his control. His nervousness makes him temporarily unable to solve problems. His social functioning is disrupted in any circumstance. The case worker gathers information about the client's entire environment, determines the causes, develops a treatment plan, and attempts to modify the client's perceptions and attitudes through professional relationships.

Social group work is a social work service in which a professionally qualified person assists individuals in improving their relationships and social functioning through group experiences. Individuals are vital in group work, and they are supported to improve their social ties via flexible programmes that emphasise the individual's personality development in group functioning and relationships. Individuals are assisted in making essential changes and adjustments through and within the group.

Another type of social work is community organization. A community is made up of groups and refers to a system of interactions that is well-organized, yet no community is perfectly organized. Community organization is a method of systematically attempting to strengthen community ties. Community organization entails identifying problems, locating resources to solve community problems, creating social relationships, and implementing essential programmed to achieve the community's goals. The community can become self-sufficient and build a cooperative mentality among its members in this way.

The process of organizing and administering social work services, both private and public, is known as social welfare administration. Some of the functions of a social worker in administration include developing programmed, mobilizing resources, involving personnel selection and recruitment, proper I organization, coordination, providing skilled and sympathetic leadership, guidance I I and supervision of the staff, dealing with programme financing and budgeting, and evaluation.
Social work research is a systematic examination aimed at uncovering new facts, testing old ideas, confirming existing theories, and determining causal linkages among the issues that a social worker is interested in. A comprehensive analysis of the given situation, including social work research and surveys, is required in order to scientifically launch any form of social work programme.

The goal of social action is to bring about desired changes in order to assure social progress. The activities of social workers who use the approach of social action include raising awareness about social problems, mobilizing resources, encouraging various groups of people to speak out against harmful practices, and applying pressure to enact laws. It aims to strike a fair balance between community needs and environmental concerns.

 Function of Social Work 

Restoration, resource provision, and prevention are the three core functions of social work. These are interconnected and interdependent. There are two components to restoring damaged social functioning: curative and rehabilitative. The therapeutic part removes the factors that are causing the individual's social dysfunction. That is, disrupted interpersonal relationships are remedied by removing the conditions that cause them. The individual must acclimate to the new cure or gadget advised after removing the variables that caused the condition. The person is assisted in adjusting to the demands of the new situation. This is referred to as the rehabilitative aspect. A hearing device, for example, is recommended as a treatment for a partially deaf youngster whose social relationships have been harmed as a result of the problem. This is the therapeutic aspect. The rehabilitative element is getting used to the hearing aid.

The development and instructional components of resource provision are both important. The developmental aspect is intended to promote resource effectiveness and personality variables for effective social interaction. Mr. and Mrs. X, for example, are happily married despite occasional differences of opinion. They are not getting divorced, and their marriage is in good shape. They can work out their problems and repair their connection with the help of a family counselling organization. The developmental aspect is what it's called. The educational spectrum is intended to familiarize the general population with specific criteria and requirements for new or changing circumstances. A talk provided by a counsellor to address family and marriage issues, for example, is an educational process.

The prevention of social dysfunction is the third function of social work. It entails the early detection, correction, or removal of circumstances and situations that may obstruct efficient social functioning. For example, establishing a youth club for males in particular locations may aid in the prevention of juvenile criminality. Pre-marital counselling for teenagers may help to avoid future marital issues.

Goals of Social Work 

Social work's purpose is to alleviate suffering through resolving people's difficulties. People suffer from psychosocial issues related to their bodily and mental health. Apart from that, children's and adults' adjustment issues can be addressed independently. In other words, social work improves the social functioning of people, organizations, and families by offering recreational services to the general public, and by sensible use of leisure time, it can help society avoid delinquency and crime. It also connects the client system to the resources it requires. Individuals benefit from social work because it assists them in bringing about changes in their environment that support their growth and development.

Social work promotes democratic concepts and the development of positive interpersonal relationships, culminating in optimal family and neighborhood modifications.

'Social Darwinism' is not something that social workers believe in. It does not believe in the survival of the fittest premise. As a result, it uses legal aid to promote social justice. Through the creation of social policy, it also promotes social fairness. Social work also increases the efficiency of the social service delivery system.

 Personal Attitude of the Worker

The social worker is a human being as well. She or he will go through all of the feelings that a human goes through. She or he may feel superior since she or he is in a position to assist others. When she/he sees herself/himself in the mirror. All of this may be traced back to the worker's early life and experiences as a Professional Social Worker. While professionally participating in the assisting position, she/he must comprehend her/his own feelings and control Nature, Scope, Goals, and Functions. She or he must accept the client's feelings as they are. She/he must not confuse them with her/his own. She or he must concentrate on assisting the client by making good use of the client's emotions and resources.

 Social Work and Ethics 

Any profession usually provides its professionals a lot of power. A layperson seeking social work assistance may be aware of the problem's complexities. The professional counsel of a social worker is valuable, and his or her judgement should not be questioned. When power is not restrained by behavioral norms, it can easily devolve into tyranny. Social workers may charge a hefty fee for their services or impose unpopular demands on the general public. As a result, professional organizations adopt a code of conduct to regulate the profession.

Ethics Philosophy: The professional has an ethical responsibility to his or her clients, employers, and coworkers. She/he owes a duty to the community as well as to his/her vocation. The foundation of a professional's service is their relationship with their client. The partnership should be unbiased and neutral. The professional should not make any distinctions based on gender, caste, creed, or color. The professional must maintain strict confidentiality regarding the client's situation and any relevant information. He or she should have a good working connection with his or her coworkers, one built on equality, cooperation, helpfulness, and regulated competition.

The professional has a social obligation and should devote all of her abilities and resources to the greater good. For the professional, the obligation to the profession is considerably greater. Members are held to the code of ethics by formal and informal techniques of social control. When a profession is recognized, it becomes a profession. Only by reserving jobs for people with technical training, giving precedence to qualifications in jobs, offering awareness of promotions and financial resources, and so on, can people gain recognition.

Social Workers' Ethical Responsibilities: A social worker has ethical responsibilities to his clients, his employers, his coworkers, his community, and his profession. The basic ethical responsibility of a social worker toward his clients is to ensure the individual's well-being. Professional responsibilities, rather than personal interests, should be prioritized by the social worker. She must respect the (self-determination) viewpoint of her client. She should keep all client-related information private. Clients' individual peculiarities should be respected by the social worker, and non-professional prejudice should be avoided.

The social worker owes his employers an ethical obligation and should be devoted to them. He/she should supply his/her employer with correct and accurate information. The social worker should be held accountable for the quality and scope of service provided while adhering to the agency's standards and procedures. She/he should continue to assist his/her agency in improving its public image even after his/her job ends.

The social worker must show respect for his or her coworkers and assist them in carrying out their duties. The social worker should take on the task of expanding her or his knowledge. She or he should treat everyone equally and collaborate with other studies and practice.

In defending the community from unethical behaviors, the social worker has an ethical responsibility. She or he must give information and talents to the community's benefit.

Above all, the social worker has an ethical obligation to his or her own field. She or he should stand up for her profession in the face of unfair criticism or misrepresentation. Through self-discipline and personal behavior, she/he should maintain and build public confidence. Professional practice necessitates professional education, which the social worker should constantly encourage.

 Ideologies of Professional Social Work 

We can understand the following social work ideologies if we examine the global historical context of social work.

Social Work as Charity: 

Religion led people to aid their neighbors in need. Alms were distributed to anyone who needed assistance. Those that assisted them were given alms as a gesture of goodwill. As a result, western countries began their social work practices with a charitable mindset. They began offering alms in cash and kind because religion inspired them to help their fellow human beings who were needy. They quickly understood that they couldn't give enough to the growing poor, and that a solution was needed to solve the situation. The state (UK government) interfered at the time by adopting legislation and initiating state inability to care for the destitute.

Welfare Social Work Approach: 

The state began to help the needy by distributing alms and passing the Elizabethan Poor Law (1601) in LK. The Act split the impoverished into three groups: those who could work, those who couldn't work, and those who were reliant on others. The first group was compelled to work in workhouses, while the second and third groups were given alms from alm houses. The Act, as well as later enactments, failed to address the issue of poverty. To comprehend the situation, the government concluded that a personalized strategy was required. The issue may be the same, but different people have various causes for the same issue. They realized that each cause must be explored in order to find a solution. As a result, charitable organizations were formed to carry out that task.

Clinical Social Work Approach: 

In 1935, Congress created the Social Security Act, recognizing the need to assist the destitute. The Act was enacted to address the issues that arose as a result of industrialization. Some of the people's financial issues were taken over by the government. A big number of people volunteered. Volunteers monitor untrained persons since they are trained people who can undertake case work practice. Most people realized that money alone would not fix their concerns, so they began working as counsellors. Psychological sciences, notably psychoanalytical thought, have served as a foundation for counselling.

Clinical social work is a type of direct social work interaction with individuals, groups, and families that takes place mostly in the worker's office. The worker supports contact between the individual and his or her social environment by using a disciplined use of self in this technique.

Ecological Social Work Approach:

 In an ecological social work approach, problems are seen as environmental inadequacies rather than personal deficits. Tradition in social work has stressed social treatment and reform, which has provided the foundation for an ecological approach. Professional social workers and the organizations that employ them see themselves as change agents working to bring about systemic change. The steps in an ecological approach are identifying the problem, identifying the clients and target system (which is causing the problem), determining the decision-making process for change goals in collaboration with clients, and determining the "action system" with which the change agent can achieve change goals.

Social workers aren't pleased with just caring for the disabled and deviants. They want to do more. Because of Marxism's influence, they advocated oppression as the root of many problems in 1970. In order to achieve an egalitarian social order, they expanded their professional obligations to include reform and development. Some of the profession's revolutionaries have gone beyond societal change and growth. Instead than dealing with adjustment difficulties and perceiving individuals as victims of an unjust social order, social workers attempt to transform the system by bringing fundamental changes to social structures and relationships. This is known as radical social work, and it has also failed to address the issues for various reasons.

Progressive Social Work: 

Some progressive social workers associate with radicals and their activities. They are dissatisfied with society's inequity. Progressive social activists work to change society's oppressive elements. They assist them in healing their wounds and educating them on how to make the best decisions for their future.

Liberal feminism is a school of thought that emphasizes gender equality and calls for legal reforms as well as equal suffrage, education, and career opportunities for men and women. Liberal feminists do not examine the societal foundations of gender discrimination.
Women's oppression, according to Marxist feminists, is a result of the capitalist mode of production. Only the latter is productive when there is a distinction between home and pay work.

 Spirituality and Social Work

India is a melting pot of religions with a long spiritual history. The Vedas and Upanishads are the spiritual foundations of Hinduism. They offer a way to master one's own inner powers in order to realize the ultimate truth. The truth is the key to understanding one's own identity and life's goals. It provides a sense of detachment from oneself and aids with emotional control. Other religions, too, assist their followers in achieving these goals.

Service to people, we believe, is service to God. The primary premise of social work is humanitarianism. It values and honors human worth and dignity. Individuals' intrinsic inventiveness and potentialities are valued in social work.

Through the use of appropriate institutions and timely opportunities, the social worker helps them to realize their full potential. The social worker will come into contact with a variety of personalities, including anti-social ones. She must cultivate a nonjudgmental attitude toward them, accepting people and groups for who they are. Although she is on the receiving end of the helpful relationship, the social worker is trained to maintain a controlled professional persona, which allows her to avoid feeling superior. In addition, she must acquire a detached attitude when interacting with clients in her professional pursuits.


The goal of social work is to assist people in resolving their difficulties. Typically, social work is concerned with interpersonal issues such as marital issues, parent-child issues, chronic patient rehabilitation, and so on. It is not the same as social service. Social work is distinguished from social service by the presence of professional relationships and face-to-face engagement. The knowledge base of social work is derived from various social and psychological sciences. Social casework, group work, community organization, social action, social welfare administration, and social work research are some of the strategies used in social work.

Restoration of poor social functioning, supply of resources, and avoidance of social dysfunction are all key functions of social work. The purpose of social work is to solve problems. It addresses psychosocial issues related to physical and mental health, as well as interpersonal connections issues and social justice.

Personal feelings such as love or hostility should not interfere with the social worker's professional activity. Professional ethics guide a social worker, just as they do any other professional. She has an ethical obligation to her career, customer, coworkers, and community.

From charity to Professional Social Work: nature, scope, goals, and welfare approach, clinical approach, ecological approach, radical approach to Functions progressive social work, and feminism, the social work history will provide an account of various ideologies.

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