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What is Social Work?

Social Work may be defined as the applied science of helping people achieve an effective level of psychosocial functioning (Barker, 1991, p.221). The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the largest professional association of social workers in North America (1973, pp 4-5), described social work as:

"...the professional activity of helping individual, groups, or communities to enhance or restore their capacity for social functioning and to create societal conditions favorable to this goal. Social work practice consists of the professional application of social work values, principles, and techniques to one or more of the following ends: helping people obtain tangible services; providing counseling and psychotherapy with individuals, families, and groups; helping communities or groups provide or improve social and health services; and participating in relevant legislative processes. The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior; of social, economic, and cultural institutions; and of the interaction of these factors."