As any student applying him or herself to a social work masters degree online will tell you, the field is not for everyone, and it takes someone with a special calling to thrive in the service of others. While there is no definite outline for who will succeed, there are some common traits that every good, effective social worker will have. If making a career out of helping others interests you, read on for some of the imperative characteristics you will need.
There are many careers in the social work field, but all of them will require patience. Working with children is common, as is helping the elderly, the mentally disabled, the emotionally unstable and those afflicted by grief or fear. In all of these instances, the ability to recognize and then work at the client or patient’s healthiest pace is an essential part of helping them.
If you can empathize with someone else’s situation, you can put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are feeling and why, and that is an incredibly powerful ability to have in your arsenal. Empathy resonates deeply with individuals who need understanding, often aiding them in opening up and trusting.
Can you get knocked down but dust yourself off and get back up? Do you persist even when the days are very dark and hope seems far off? All effective social workers must be able to persevere, because oftentimes clients and patients – not to mention outside forces beyond your control – will frustrate and dishearten. The social work field needs more workers who can take a setback but keep moving forward with hope and optimism.
The life of a social worker is often stressful, with long hours, trying days and cases which run the gamut from difficult to heartbreaking. Because of this, a social worker must also have a high degree of self-regard, which enables him or her to demand respect, act with dignity and also know when he or she deserves a time-out and mental breathing room.