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Social Workers: The New Frontier

By Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Author of The Law of Sobriety, CBS Radio Host, Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab, and Speaker

When you graduated with an MSW back in the nineties, the general consensus was there were basically two options for employment after you graduated; either work for an agency or go into private practice.  Within those two options; private practice was even considered a dirty word and “politically incorrect.  Becoming a Media Expert on National Television was rarely recognized unless you wrote a book, and there certainly was no Dr. Drew or Dr. Phil.  It was understood you were going to graduate and provide therapy for emotional, behavioral, or mental disorders and that was “good enough.”  What is so exciting about today’s Social Worker, is there are many more options running the gambit from working in traditional social worker settings such as a non-profit institution or agency or taking the road less traveled and  becoming a media psychologist, media consultant,  marketing director or even a radio or TV host. Today’s Social Worker in America means many things and for many social workers like myself, they have been able to brand themselves.  For example, I am known as a Celebrity Psychotherapist who has worked in addictions from my work on the VH1 reality TV show “Celebrity Rehab”.  That is just one example of how the face of Social Work has changed with the influx of reality TV, blog radio, blogging, you tube, and all the other opportunities that go beyond the agency setting.

When we view traditional settings for the social workers, they may include a hospital or mental health clinic, working with patients or family members to access community resources, treating mental disorders or disturbances, or might be assigned clients with special needs, and work individually and specifically with that client to help them meet their needs.  Social workers also extend to school settings working with special needs students or students in the foster care system who may require additional help and support.

In the realm of special needs children and child psychology, social workers may be called upon to work in a variety of manners and settings from case working, adoption or foster care counseling, at-risk counseling, and advocating for child welfare.  This type of work may be applied in a multitude of public and private settings and for a wide variety of tasks.

Outside of work that is clinical or counseling related, social workers may be utilized for their special knowledge in a variety of manners by nonprofit institutions or government agencies.  With advanced degrees, an academically advanced social work student can move into the field of research and work with other scholars to advance techniques, counseling procedures, and a general understanding of human nature.  Social workers with specialized knowledge may also be employed in a professionally integrated setting. For example, social workers with special experience in law and policy may enter the field of public policy and attempt to influence legislation and regulations that affect the profession and its clients.

Furthermore, some institutions may hire social workers with media experience to ace as media experts for related news stories.  In this manner, the worker is helping to raise awareness of their field and educate the public.  In addition, another in entertainment might be becoming a Media Consultant. Media Consultants regularly meet with film and television producers, directors, and writers helping them accurately depict human behavior in media productions.  Another fast growing field, for example, is working for a reality television production company accessing the stability of cast members to make sure they are stable enough to appear on a show.  In addition, another branch of Social Workers are marketing directors who help understand how consumers react to certain types of advertising.  With the explosion of social networking, social workers are attractive for following marketing trends, paying attention to competitors, and developing company brands.

Other nontraditional settings where social workers can use their skill set and their knowledge of human behavior also include corporations and private businesses. These jobs may pay higher salaries and offer greater benefits than traditional social work professions and represents an expanding employment market during the recession.

Regardless of the workplace setting or the exact job title, social workers will often need to act as advocates, protect, educate, link individuals with community resources, counsel, and conduct research.  With these practical skills and a valuable education, social workers are able to take the knowledge acquired in their line of work or academia and obtain jobs that many may not typically associate with this career.  As the fields of psychology, sociology, and counseling advance, so does the field of social work.  With the right education, and a drive to succeed, social workers can use their skills to advance a wide variety of interesting and fulfilling career paths.

Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life & Recovery Coach is featured Celebrity Rehab on VH1.   Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety” which uses the law of attraction to recover from any addiction. Sherry conducts webinars, teleseminars, coaching and has done various speaking engagements. Listen to Sherry on “A Moment of Change with Sherry Gaba” on CBS Radio.  Email:

One Response to “Social Workers: The New Frontier” Leave a reply ›

  • I have been in Social Work for many years. Coming up the ” Ranks”. Group homes, Welfare, Child welfare, Home care, Hospitals and currently a Social Worker in a renal center.

    My patients are new to dialysis,or have been on for a long period of time . I have seen a lot, and dealt with a lot of situations. I am older now and find that the thing that is most fustraing to me, is how all things have become computorized and the primary function of my job appeare to be working on billing, making sure that funds, insurance and cash is available and flowing. Also to assure that each patient s is meeting their, finacial quota, the only thing that is “most important”

    I have progressed and do understand the need and reasons for the evolution in eletronic charting and documenting informatin, however, it has in many of my employment situations, been where the practice of Social Work is not quite appriecialted , and other task are deemed more important, than our titled or degreeded. I would like to see that, whom ever hire a Social Worker understand how and what our, contributions are, and can be .

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