Social Work Is Not a Poverty Profession

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Poverty is not an issue, unless you're poor

Inevitably, when dealing in any way with the social context of people, money concerns raise their collective head. When we, ourselves, achieve some measure of financial security, we may forget that poverty is eviscerating to the human psyche. If I lose sight of this in the pursuit of my security, then I am not operating out of the Social Work professional practice, despite any organized body elucidating the mandates of the profession.

Poverty is the number one instrument of oppression, of diminished.ability and capacity in the impoverished and a destroyer of such people's ability to progress, generally speaking.

I applaud the good professor's article for what it says and for its ability to offer a springboard for thought.

There is no higher calling in the profession than alleviating poverty in the people we serve. If we do that as a professor, hospital owner, statesperson or teacher, than we are taking care of an essential and chronic problem in the world and are operating out the social worker profession as it has evolved over the centuries.

We are given respect because we are practical and we care and fight for our people. To me, that is the essence of a social worker.

Your definition and experience may differ from mine.

Robert Marek more than 6 years ago


If you're not working with clients, you're not a social worker. Period. Hospital owner? Good lord what nonsense.

Fargles more than 6 years ago

Social workers in indirect practice

Professional social workers have many different roles in their careers, not all of which involve direct practice. A client may be an individual, a family, a group, an entire community. Social workers may be practicing directly with a client in a mentail health or other setting, or may be working in policy or administration, among other roles and settings. more than 6 years ago

I concur

Very true points. We need to change the stereotype of the "poor social work profession".

Phillip Ortiz, Ed.D., LCSW more than 7 years ago

Wonderful Article (and Enlightening)

I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Anderson's comments. However, people often comment on their own experiences and may not have been exposed to higher-paying opportunities within the social work field. Therefore, they may rely on these personal testimonials as they attempt to guide (or misguide) interns, students, and other interested parties. Unfortunately, such occurrences happen all too often.

Latonia S. Johnson, PhD, LCSWA more than 7 years ago

could you tell me more?

I'm probably one of those students you're referring to, looking to further my mental health career and realizing that a social work degree is necessary. I love the work, but I am terrified by what I learned on about my prospects with a master's degree - how can I justify the time and expense just to go back to making the same salary I made without a degree? Can social workers truly expect to earn 50k and that's it? What are these higher paying opportunities? I am passionate about the field and love the work I've been able to do so far but feel that I will never be able to own a home or have kids if I continue in the field because I won't be able to afford anything other than renting apartments forever. I would love some good news!

Janelle more than 6 years ago

Let us be Wholistic

Poverty reduction is still part of our profession. Let us be wholistic. I just wanted to comment on the heading. Maybe "SOCIAL WORK IS NOT JUST A POVERTY PROFESSION" should do. :)

Jareen GT more than 7 years ago

Well said!

Dr. Anderson raises very valid points in this editorial. Too many labor under this restrictive notion that social work ethics demand a vow of poverty. I applaud him and join his voice.

David Johnson, PhD, LSW, Associate Professor of Social Work, Millersville University more than 7 years ago

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