What is Social Work?
Strongly influenced by the concepts of human rights and social justice, social workers are professionals that help vulnerable individuals, families, and groups in need. Social work can include a variety of different jobs or careers, but in essence it involves meeting people in their home environment, identifying the issues that are causing social problems for them, and connecting them with the right resources to improve their well-being.
Social workers may work for organizations, in hospitals, in schools, for the government, at senior centers, in private practice, or in any number of public or private institutions. Many social workers choose to work with specific populations, such as children, the elderly, or the poor. Often, social work is about creating healthy communities in order to improve the lives of all people.
Some of the issues that social workers may come up against in their profession include:
Illness and lack of access to healthcare
Drug and alcohol addiction
Death and grief
Social workers are advocates for social change. They educate clients to prevent problems from occurring or worsening. They empower others to develop to their full potential.
What is Counseling?
Counseling is a type of professional guidance for handling problems in life. There are many types of counselors, and they serve an incredibly wide variety of people with all kinds of different needs. There are general counselors, marriage and family counselors, school and student counselors, career and vocational counselors, religious counselors, and gerontological counselors specifically for the elderly.
In all cases, counseling works when the client and the counselor talk to each other and develop a trusting relationship. The counselor listens respectfully to the client’s problems. Then the two together work on identifying goals, increasing coping skills to overcome any troubles, and improving useful skills such as communication. The goals of counseling will be different for each person, but generally they include an increased sense of well being, decreased distress and anxiety, resolved crisis, and increased ability and function in daily life.
What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is commonly referred to as talk therapy or simply therapy. Trained therapists help and guide patients as they talk through issues in their life and problem-solve ways to make healthy changes.
The use of therapy is extremely common, with millions of people going through therapy each year in the United States alone. It can be useful for patients who want to learn coping skills when they are facing difficult issues or need to heal from past trauma. Therapy can also be a support tool when patients are facing stressful periods in their life. Essentially, therapy is helpful any time life events require more mental or emotional resources than a patient currently has. Change is a major theme of therapy, offering a supportive environment for patients to make changes to their life or themselves so that past problems stop recurring in the future.
There are several different types of psychotherapy, with the most common being cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. This type of therapy focuses on the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is a form of CBT that encourages acceptance and validation as well as change. Interpersonal therapy focuses on relationships and communication as a pathway to feeling better. Psychoanalysis, an older form of therapy invented by Sigmund Freud, teaches that all problems stem from the unconscious.
Although many people see therapists by themselves, not all psychotherapy is one-on-one. For example, in family therapy, the therapist treats a family as a unit. Patients can also participate in group therapy, where they meet as a group to work on issues.
Psychotherapy is a safe, powerful healing tool that can help patients lead happier and healthier lives. However, therapy is a joint effort between the patient and the therapist. Both need to work together in order for therapy to be effective.
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