Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Scope of Counselling in Social Work Profession

Social workers are one among the many professionals
engaged in counselling individuals with emotional and
other problems. Besides social workers, other
professionals providing counselling services include the
psychiatrists, psychologists, psychoanalysts, nursing
personnel, religious leaders, teachers and other
volunteers. Counselling is one of the major tasks of social
workers engaged in helping people. Through direct
counselling or referral to other services, social workers
help people solve a range of personal problems.
Counselling and social work are closely connected.
Social workers help people by counselling them to cope
with issues in their everyday lives, deal with their
relationships, and solve personal and family problems.
Some social workers provide counselling to clients who
face a disability or a life-threatening disease or a social
problem, such as unemployment, cancer, HIV/AIDS or
substance abuse. Social workers also counsel families
that have serious domestic conflicts, sometimes involving
child or spousal abuse. Many social workers specialize
in serving a particular population or work in a specific
setting. They get many opportunities for engaging in
their field of practice.
Some of the agencies where social workers engage
themselves in counselling can be listed as follows:
l Social welfare departments – family counselling
centers, children’s home
l Family and child welfare agencies
l Schools and colleges – government and private
l Child and adolescent guidance centers
l Hospitals and health services – government, private
and voluntary organizations
l Home for the aged
l Agencies for the physically and mentally challenged
l Home for the terminally ill – hospice
l Agencies working for HIV/AIDS prevention and
l Drug de-addiction and rehabilitation centres
l Mental health projects and rehabilitation centres
l Youth welfare agencies
l Centres for suicide prevention
In order to get a better idea, let’s discuss the scope of
counselling in some of the fields of practice by social
i. Family and child welfare: Social workers provide
social services and counselling to improve the social
and psychological functioning of children and their
families. Further they work to maximize the wellbeing
of families and the academic functioning of
children. They may assist single parents, prepare
parents for adoptions, or help in finding foster homes
for neglected, abandoned, or abused children. Some
social workers specialize in services for the aged.
These social workers may run support groups;
counsel elderly people or family members about their
living, health care, and other services.
ii. School social work: In schools, social workers often
serve as the link between students, parents and the
school. They work with students, parents, guardians,
teachers, and other school officials to ensure
students reach their academic and personal
potential. In addition, they address problems such
as misbehaviour, truancy, absenteeism, late coming,
under achievement, etc. and provide counselling
services to students, parents and teachers on how
to cope with difficult situations.
iii. Medical and public health: Social workers working
in medical and public health areas, provide
psychosocial support to patients, families, or
relatives. Counselling is given so that they can cope
with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses, such as
cancer, or AIDS. The role of social worker in the
field of medical and public health is as important as
that of a physician. While the medical practitioner’s
role is concerned with the treatment of a patient,
social worker deals with the social, physical and
psychological aspects of the patient under
treatment. The role of social workers in the medical
and public health in India has become more
important with the fast spread of HIV/AIDS. This is
one area where counselling is provided for prevention
as well as rehabilitation of affected persons.
iv. Mental health and substance abuse: Social Workers
help the individuals with mental illness or the
problem of substance abuse, including abuse of
alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. The social workers
in mental health set up provide services along with
the psychiatrist and other professionals. Such
services include counselling, individual and group
therapy, outreach, crisis intervention and social
rehabilitation. The increasing involvement of young
people in substance abuse in India is also a matter
of concern for the involvement of social workers.