by Adrian D. Anderson, Ph.D., LCSW
Social work professionals must remain diligent in celebrating and educating students and the broader community about the eclecticism of our praxis. Too many nascent social workers readily embrace the misguided notion that social work is a poverty-wage and poverty-client profession limited to direct practice.
I have worked with many social work students over the years who have expressed tremendous trepidation that they could only work with indigent clients or at the Department of Family and Children Services. This misperception is promulgated by some practitioners who present social work as a practice exclusive to child services or as a clinical and license-driven profession. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We as social workers can serve our profession better by vigilantly guarding against the notion that social work is a poverty profession limited to direct practice. We must continue to reinforce and celebrate the fact that direct practice and licensure pursuit is not necessary for a career trajectory that may entail serving as a university president, an owner of a hospital, a fundraiser, a mayor, a senator, or a governor. Social workers have been appointed to key positions in the White House by various presidents over the years. We have consulted presidents on policy initiatives and have served as architects for a variety of business ventures, which could include the establishment of banking or financial centers.
We can promote social justice and honor our code of ethics in high salary positions or as owners of billion dollar business enterprises. We can be millionaires and practice social work in the same spirit as some wealthy philanthropists who promote and enhance society. Furthermore, some of the early social work pioneers who established our profession emerged from very affluent families and used their personal wealth to improve society.
The tenable fact is that social workers are not obligated by our code of ethics or any other doctrine to live a life of financial destitution or take a vow of poverty. Let us celebrate that equifinality exists in our profession, and that social work is not a silo.
Adrian D. Anderson, Ph.D, LCSW, is an Assistant Professor at Savannah State University.