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10 Focuses to a First in Social Work Essays
Before you start, this is a long article. You might prefer the pdf version here .
So… You want to write a great social work essay?
It’s deceptively difficult, isn’t it?
I remember the time I got back my first assignment from university. I was so excited.
How high would I get?
Then I saw the mark.
Was it out of 50? No, it wasn’t. it was out of a 100. That’s when I realised that I had
Sitting at the edge of the pool, I felt like crying. I couldn’t believe it. I had come all the way from Singapore to England… to fail?
That’s when I realised I truly needed to bring up my game. If I was not going to be serious, the 35 would not be an isolated event, but a continual series.
This short article covers the series of steps I took to move from failure to first. I hope it helps you on your own journey in social work too.
In this short book, the first 3 focuses cover what happens before your coursework has been assigned. It covers the basics of class-going, reading, and creating the right study environment.
Focuses 4 to 7 cover the writing process, from understanding the essay- writing process, to planning deadlines, to the actual writing itself.
Focuses 8 and 9 share about how you can polish up the essay before submitting, before 10 suggests how you might use the returned coursework as a springboard to your next A.
Note: Please bear in mind, this bears relation to academic papers we must write as part of the social work course and not the performance on placement.
Focus 1: Understand what tutors want
If you don’t know what your tutors want, they will never give you what you want – a high grade. Therefore, it’s important that you and I turn up for our classes. I know, I know, it’s a travesty when universities force you to turn up for class at 9am.
But there’s no excuse if a first is what you want. Appearing at lectures is essential to see what tutors are focusing on when they teach you something. It also helps to see what tutors know, and more importantly, do not know, when they teach.
Why do I say that?
When you write an essay, the thing that differentiates an average essay from an A+ essay is the number of unique insights you give. Rehashing what your tutors have said is simply not going to get you a high grade.
Therefore, when you appear at their lectures, see what they have focused on, you can start giving your own insightful take on what they have said.
To put it more simply,
Basic arguments + Unique Insights = Mark attained
Secondly, when you turn up for your lectures and seminars, you build a treasure trove of insights that other students give when they are in class.
It’s no use to appear at the last lecture, hoping that the tutor is going to give you all the essential tips for scoring an A+. It doesn’t work that way.
Consistency is key.
Focus 2: Read right
When I see students lug their 6 pack Red-Bulls to the library, bring the blanket, and prepare for an overnight stay at the library, I empathise with them.
Why? Because just 5 years ago, whilst I was studying for my A Levels, I was like them. I thought that doing well meant that you had to sacrifice on your sleep, spend long hours at the library, and down litres of caffeine.
When my A-Level results were released, I was deeply disappointed. All those hours of suffering at the hands of caffeine, worrying about work…all that hadn’t worked? What had I done wrongly?
But for one, I realised I had not focused on consistent work. Instead, I had focused on bursts. I had failed to realise that the assessment started the day lessons started . This was a crucial insight.
This meant that lessons were no longer a joke, a chance to play with my friends, or to laugh at the homework I hadn’t completed.
It was when the assessment started .
Putting in effort during classes is vital for reducing the amount of work you do for your final assessment. But it does not mean doing everything that the tutor asks you to do.
Nor does it mean reading everything the tutor tells you to read.
When I was at university, everyone used to joke about how they never had to do readings, and yet still managed to survive.
I know readings are long and boring.
But they are important to build your understanding of the topic. In social work, this is vital.
For example, understanding the method of practice is important to help you choose the right method to write about. One that engages you enough to spend weeks researching, writing and editing. You cannot write about something you are not interested in.
There’s an important caveat though – you don’t have to read everything. With readings being hundreds of pages, you would not have enough time physically to read all.
To help you determine what to read, Newport developed a useful heuristic.
Readings that make an argument > Readings that describe an event > Readings that provide context
For example, a reading that explains why we use the relationship-based approach is more important than one describing Gillian Ruch, who brought it into prominence, which is more important than an article describing BASW’s 2019 theme of relationship- based practice.
This is not an excuse to skip readings, but to read the ones that truly matter.
Focus 3: Create the right study environment
When the deadline is close, we often bring along packs of Red-Bull to the library, hoping that the wings Red-Bull gives is going to help us to sail through this assignment.
It works when you want to turn in a mediocre assignment, but for a first, it doesn’t work very well.
That’s because your brain is on a sugary high, and is focused on getting the job done. Rather than trying to draw unique insights from the readings, you are focused on getting the essay out of the door.
To create the right study environment where this cramming does not need to happen, there are 3 essential tips that helped me.
Firstly, study alone.
When you are studying in a group, the tendency is for you to chat from time to time, go out for breaks, laugh together, and end up with little work done. But I’m a social person! Sure, that’s important. But you can always be sociable after the work is done.
This way, you focus entirely on the work that is in front of you, rather than the friend that is beside you. You face little distractions that will take you away from developing a great essay.
Secondly, study in a quiet area.
This is as clear as it gets. studying whilst lying on the bed, with Netflix in front of you, and trying to type out a great essay is not a great idea.
Cal Newport, founder of the famous Study Hacks website, calls it ‘pseudo-working’. Sure, you can complain about the hours you spent on your essay, but how much of it was quality time, instead of quantity time?
When you want to write your essay, take yourself to a library with few distractions around you, and focus.
Lastly, study smart. We are human. Expecting yourself to focus for 2 consecutive hours is impossible.
Rather, it becomes more productive when you focus for 25 minutes, rest for 5 minutes, focus again for 25 minutes, before resting again for 10 minutes.
Called the Pomodoro technique, this breaks work down into more manageable chunks rather than an impossible mountain.
Focus 4: Understand the writing process
Rather than seeing an essay as a whole process of writing, breaking it down into its sequential parts will make the job much more organised, and much, much, more effective.
In the first step of research, determine the necessary sources for your arguments.
Find at least 2 references for each argument before moving on. Reference those arguments correctly, indicating the page number. This makes it easy to put everything together later.
Then, we move onto the writing section. In this section, before you even start writing, construct a proper topic level outline for your essay.
Discuss this outline with your tutor, and get their feedback. Most tutors can’t give direct feedback on written drafts, but they can give feedback on written outlines.
This is important to ensure that your essay is moving on the right track and not going into potential dead-ends. This process of consulting your tutor is explained in the next section.
Then, start writing!
Focus 5: Plan deadlines
After you get your assignment, the next step is to start planning!
It doesn’t matter where you are going if you don’t have a plan. If you don’t care about what grade you get, don’t bother planning! It will be a waste of your time.
But if you do, then plan. The point of planning is that it breaks up what you are doing so that you can know what exactly needs to be done to get to the end.
Here, I have developed a simple worksheet for you to keep track of your writing.
Write down the dates, and keep yourself accountable to them by showing them to a friend.
Focus 6: Consult your tribe
Whatever you are writing, I can guarantee that you will not do well if you keep your outline to yourself.
Why am I so sure?
As humans, we are subject to the confirmation bias.
Bestselling author Rolf Dobelli (2013:23) describes it as the:
‘mother of all misconceptions’, because it is the ‘tendency to interpret new information so that it becomes compatible with our existing theories, beliefs and convictions’. Rolf Dobelli, The Art of Thinking Clearly
This means that however bad the outline you plan is, it will look brilliant to you. Why? Because you are the one who planned it.
That’s why it’s important to give someone you trust, such as your tutor, another colleague, or even your placement supervisor, a quick read through to ensure that you are on the right track.
Tell them to be honest with you about the theories you are using, the arguments you are going to make, and if they have any suggestions for you. This way, you ensure that you are on the right track to success before spending too much time on it.
Even though it might look troublesome and embarrassing, consulting others is very is important.
During my last practice analysis, my mark dropped from a previous high of 85 to 65, simply because I was too arrogant to ask. Just because my first practice analysis had been an all-time high of 85, I thought this meant that I no longer needed any consultation.
Well, now I know.
It’s a little too late now, though.
But I hope that sharing this with you shows you the importance of sharing your outline with someone else, and having the humility to take their feedback into consideration when you craft your eventual essay.
Focus 7: Argue well
This is a distillation of the most useful tips I learnt from 24 years of arguing in school, as a debater, as a writer, and as a student. It is meant as a list of guidelines you should use as you write your essay.
Firstly, when writing your essay, you need to offer a roadmap to the marker. Don’t let them get lost. Where are you taking them on the journey through your essay? For me, it has been useful to write the introduction last , after I’ve been clear about the main arguments and conclusion I will make.
Secondly, always be clear about what your argument is.
Don’t assume that your marker is going to understand it without you stating it explicitly to them. I would suggest you state it within the first two sentences of your paragraph.
Use clear markers such as, ‘I would argue that…’, ‘This essay believes that…’.
Thirdly, connect the dots between each paragraph and your question. Remember to link your argument to the question with concluding words such as therefore, thus, in summary , to illustrate to your marker that you are drawing a link between what you have said to what the question has asked.
Fourthly, let your voice shine through.
During my last assignment, I made the mistake of referencing every other sentence I wrote. An example is shown below.
The social pedagogy approach guided how I related to A. The 3 key concepts involve ‘haltung, head-heart-hands, and the common third’ (Ruch et al. 2017:1016). ‘Haltung’ brings one’s whole self – ‘rational, emotional and practical’ to develop sincere relationships (Ruch et al. 2017:1016). With A, I brought the ‘haltung’ of authenticity. My practice analysis, 2018
Authenticity is not ‘hustling for acceptance and changing who we are to fit in’ (Brown 2018:25). It was embracing myself, and using my ‘self’ to influence A.
My marker commented that it felt quite turgid and stilted. She meant that it had felt unnatural. She had felt that whilst I had referenced well, my own voice had not come through. Therefore, whilst evidencing is good, I would argue that your own perspectives must first be explained before you start throwing in references. This brings me to my next point on referencing.
The best students understand how to question the evidence that is given to them, rather than copying the references wholly from the source. Thus, rather than using references in a descriptive manner, start using it in an analytical manner.
I used the relationship-based approach (Ruch et al. 2017) to work with X.
Ruch (et al. 2017) recommends bringing the authentic self into work with clients. However, with X, I found that this was not necessarily helpful as he tended to overstep boundaries, taking advantage of my kindness.
I hope these 5 tips help you to write better essays.
Focus 8: Work consistently
I like to think of essay-writing as something similar to chopping a tree. You can chop a tree in a day, but it’s difficult. Rather, taking small chops consistently ensures that you can give it a good ‘THWACK!’ each day, and come out alive.
I am aware that you might be reading this as another act of procrastination, telling yourself that you are going to go back to that essay after reading yet another article on how to write a good essay.
Well, it’s not going to work that way.
Working consistently helps. Period. If you like pulling all-nighters, rushing through your essay on the deadline, I cannot stop you. But I’m here to tell you that there is a better way.
To deal with procrastination, your mind needs to be assured that it is going to be able to rest. It hates the fact that you might put it through another all-nighter again, and it starts likening your early attempts to work to an all-nighter.
Thus, to start the ball rolling, building momentum, start with 5 minutes.
5 minutes is all it takes. If you can’t do 25 minutes of reading, just tell yourself, ‘I will do 5 minutes of studying today.’
Time yourself with a stopwatch. The probability is, after 5 minutes, your mind will start gathering momentum and will continue to work.
Use the Pomodoro technique described above to have regular work-rest cycles.
Here is another important tip.
When writing your essay, go offline. As we have discussed in Focus 3 – Understand the writing process , essay-writing is split into research, writing and editing. When you are researching, it’s fine to be online. But when you are writing, go offline.
This removes unnecessary distractions like email, social media, and notifications.
When you go offline, you find it much easier to go into the flow, rather than trying desperately to switch between your browser, your word processor, and your phone. It makes you less likely to procrastinate, because there is nothing to procrastinate on.
Rather than telling yourself that you are going to finish 3000 words on the final day, why not set yourself a more manageable goal of 300 words over the next 10 days? Consistency, not craziness is key to your excellence.
Focus 9: Review your paper
Someone once said, ‘it’s not about the plan, but about the planning.’ Similarly, in essay- writing, it’s not about the final essay, but it’s about the process of constantly reviewing what you have written. We have researched. We have written.
Finally, we come to the editing portion. In his book ‘How to be a Straight-A Student’, which I thoroughly recommend for every student, Cal Newport suggests three different edits.
- Read the paper carefully on the computer, ensuring clarity of argument.
- Fix obvious flaws.
- Rewrite when flow needs improving.
- Print out your essay and read it out loud.
- Highlight or mark any passages that seem unclear and edit it.
- Read over for the final time to fix any remaining flaws.
I don’t know about your tutors, but my tutors were very strict on things like referencing, naming of clients, and naming of organizations.
Editing ensures that these small chinks are ironed out, creating a beautifully crafted paper, ready for a first!
Focus 10: Ask for feedback
No matter how well or how badly you do, it’s vital to learn from it. Don’t simply let it go.
I would say that this is the most important factor in getting a first at social work. Reading the comments about your essay, and the markings on the essay are not particularly helpful in and of themselves. It’s only when you begin to have a conversation about them that it starts becoming helpful.
When you know the points you did well at, you can focus on including more of them in your next essay, so that you can get an even higher grade.
When you know the points you could even improve on, eliminating those pain points ensures that you make the marking process an easy one for your marker.
Arrange a call with your marker to review what you had done well or not so well over the course of your essay.
Many students forget that social work is a social science subject. This means that many of your assignments will be based on your writing capability, rather than your ability to write the CORRECT answer.
There is no correct answer in something subjective like social work. Instead, markers grade you on how well you argue your point, the unique insights you give, and the evidence you have combed through to get to your point.
Therefore, getting your tutor’s feedback on your writing ability, and the points you could improve on is helpful for your future essays. Look at it this way. your tutors do this for a living.
That means they have seen hundreds, if not thousands of essays. They have also probably written hundreds of essays themselves to get to where they are.
They know what qualifies as good writing. Teasing from them the principles of arguing was perhaps the most important lesson of my university experience.
Social work essays can be tough. But they are not that tough.
If you follow the steps here, I hope you find them a little easier.
- Appear at lectures and seminars.
- Ask questions.
- Store insights from classmates and tutors.
- Read right.
You don’t have to read everything!
- Study alone.
- Study in a quiet environment.
- Study smart.
- Have clear dates for significant milestones.
- We are guilty of the confirmation bias.
- Ask for feedback
- Offer a roadmap to the reader.
- Be clear about what your argument is.
- Link your paragraph to your question.
- Let your voice shine through.
- Analyse the evidence.
- 300 words everyday is better than 3000 words on the last day.
- Argument adjustment pass
- Out loud pass
- Sanity pass
- Ask for feedback.
- Ask your tutors: What have I done well? What can I do better?
I hope you enjoyed this short article that distils the essence of how I turned from failure to first in social work.
What helps you get your A? Add a comment below.
Cheers to your next A,
These are a list of resources that transformed my study habits. If you have the chance, read them, and you will see why.
Dobelli, R. (2013) The Art of Thinking Clearly . London: Sceptre Books Newport, C. (2007) How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less New York: Three Rivers Press.
Wong, D. (2012) The Happy Student. Singapore: Write Editions.
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Want to get an A for your essay?
I failed my first essay , getting 35/100. But I went onto get an average of 72 for the next 2 years. How can you move from failing to first ? Here's 10 principles.
Writing Guide for Social Workers
Social workers serve as a link between clients and community resources, providing vital human services that assist underserved populations. Writing is a key part of the job; social workers frequently write documents such as assessment reports, case notes, letters, emails, and support plans. Often, social workers are responsible for procuring and providing services for clients, and their writing skills must be strong to enable the best support possible. The social work field has a reputation for bureaucratic red tape and paperwork, but it’s up to skilled social workers to navigate these systems and secure the most useful resources and social services for their clients.
This guide examines the ins and outs of professional writing for social work practice, exploring the main types of writing you’ll likely encounter while studying social work in college. Along with a breakdown of common types of writing, you’ll also find information on style and citation formats relevant to academic writing. Additionally, this guide includes common writing mistakes to avoid, resources to help you improve your general writing skills, and writing resources specifically for social workers.
Types of Writing Social Workers Will Do in School
The personal statement is a written representation of your interests and abilities, giving colleges a sense of who you are and why you’re interested in social work. Specific topic requirements vary between schools, but the statement of purpose typically calls for you to describe your personal and professional experiences and relate them to the goals of a specific social work program. Schools also use the statement as a social work writing sample, gauging your career motives as well as your creativity, self-awareness, critical thinking skills, and overall writing ability. Common prompts may include describing your background, the development of your interest in social work, your experience with diversity, or your work experience in the field.
A strong personal statement answers all required prompts in a cohesive narrative. The essay should explain your experiences and how they relate to your aspirations while avoiding clichés and overly generalized statements. Almost everyone who goes into social work wants to help people; distinguish yourself from other applicants by explaining precisely why and how you want to help, and what makes this desire unique. Some schools don’t require the statement of purpose, but you should always complete one if you have the option, as it gives the admissions committee a clearer sense of who you are as a student and a social worker.
In many social work programs, exams take the form of essays completed during class. Professors rarely announce the essay topics in advance, but you can prepare by examining the syllabus and determining major course ideas and themes. You may also be able to anticipate potential essay topics by examining previous course materials and looking for patterns in the type of questions the professor assigns. A study group can also help you prepare for essay exams by reviewing the course curriculum and devising possible essay topics with other students.
Before you begin writing an essay, you should first determine exactly what the prompt asks, which ensures that you’re fully prepared to answer the question. Next, compose an outline with a thesis and at least three main points that support your idea. Ideally, you should spend 10-20% of your allotted time devising your main ideas and drawing up an outline. Essay exams must follow the same logical progression of ideas that characterizes conventional expository writing, so be sure to organize your supporting paragraphs properly. While writing the essay should occupy most of your exam time, try to give yourself a few minutes at the end of the exam to proofread your work and make minor revisions.
Of all social work writing, the research paper ranks among the most common. You’ll likely complete several extensive research papers throughout the course of your studies, requiring you to examine and synthesize many information sources on a specific topic. While a research paper is similar to an essay, several key factors distinguish the two forms: an essay typically expresses your own perspective, while a research paper uses the work of others to draw new conclusions on a topic. Research papers are typically longer than essays and require a greater depth of knowledge on a topic. Potential topics for social work research papers vary as much as the field itself and may cover subjects like substance abuse, child and family services, community organizing, or education.
Most research papers either make an argument on a topic or explore overall perspectives on a topic, and some do both. Like other forms of writing, a research paper needs a thesis and supporting information, though the thesis often changes as further research occurs. Since research papers call for substantial information gathering and presentation, outlining and organization are particularly important, and a topic must be complex enough to sustain significant research.
How Do You Write an Essay?
Regardless of your area of study, you’ll likely complete several types of writing throughout the course of your degree. Different essay styles call for different approaches, and the following section outlines the most common essay forms you’re likely to encounter, along with tips for writing them.
- Narrative : A narrative essay allows you to tell a personal story, typically with more freedom than most forms of writing. However, the narrative essay must fulfill certain requirements, such as telling a cohesive, interesting story with a beginning, middle, and end. A narrative essay must also serve a purpose; readers need to understand why you’re telling your story and come away with a message or lesson.
- Expository : The expository essay requires you to explore a topic and make a compelling argument based on your research. An expository essay begins with a clear thesis statement, moves into body paragraphs that support your argument, and ends with a conclusion that sums up your main ideas. Expository writing encompasses many styles, including comparative writing and cause-and-effect writing.
- Persuasive : Similar to the expository essay, the persuasive essay requires you to research a topic and make an argument based on your assessment. However, persuasive essays differ in that they require more extensive research and often entail more writing. Expository essays may occur as in-class assignments or as parts of exams, while persuasive essays often function as final assignments with more time to complete. A persuasive essay still requires a strong, evidence-based thesis and extensive supporting details in its body paragraphs.
- Comparative : A comparative essay examines the similarities and differences between two or more items, which could be anything from political systems to literary texts. After analyzing these items, you must develop a thesis that makes an argument about their similarities or differences. Some comparative essays focus more on similarities to develop a thesis, while others focus on differences. Like other essay forms, the comparative essay needs well-organized points that support a thesis.
- Cause and Effect : This essay type examines a certain event or pattern and attempts to analyze the factors that caused it, making an argument about why the event occurred in such a way. For example, an essay on the Great Depression and the stock market crash of 1929 might examine the various economic and social factors that led to the depression, making an argument about how these factors functioned together to create the situation.
Featured Online Programs
Citations guide for social work students.
Citation plays an important role in all forms of academic writing, as it ensures that writers properly attribute their research sources and avoid plagiarism. Failure to cite your sources properly can cause major problems in your academic career, and even unintentional plagiarism can result in heavy penalties in the academic world, particularly at higher levels of study. This section outlines the major citation styles used for academic writing, highlighting key differences and presenting examples of each style’s citation format.
American Psychological Association Style
APA style is the citation method of choice in most social science courses, and this format generally serves as the default social work writing style. Since research in the social sciences constantly changes, APA emphasizes the dates of sources to help readers determine their recency and relevance. For in-text citations, APA style uses the author’s name, the date of publication, and the page number. Book citations used in a reference list typically include the author’s name, year of publication, book title, city of publication, and the publisher.
“If the manner of a man’s dying seems arbitrary, his morality is inescapable” (Anderson, 1983, p. 10).
Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined Communities. New York, New York: Verso.
Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago style ranks among the most comprehensive and complex of formatting choices, and it often serves the needs of high-level academic writing, particularly in the field of history. Unlike most other styles, Chicago calls for the use of either footnotes or endnotes for in-text citations. Numbered in-text citations correspond to notes that indicate the author’s name, book title, publisher information, publication date, and page number. Chicago style formatting also typically includes a formal bibliography at the end of the text.
“If the manner of a man’s dying seems arbitrary, his morality is inescapable.”  Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (New York: Verso, 1983), 10.
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. New York: Verso, 1983.
Modern Language Association Format
MLA formatting most commonly occurs in humanities and liberal arts writing, such as English and philosophy. This format emphasizes authorship, with in-text citations that indicate the author’s name and page number at the end of each quotation. For reference lists, MLA format calls for writers to include the author’s name, the title of the work, the publisher, and the year of publication.
“If the manner of a man’s dying seems arbitrary, his morality is inescapable” (Anderson 10).
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. Verso, 1983.
Associated Press Style
AP style isn’t commonly used for academic writing, but you may find yourself using this style if you’re writing a more journalistic piece. Created for newspapers and other forms of mass media, the AP style emphasizes consistency, clarity, accuracy, and brevity. Since it’s not academic, there aren’t concrete rules for citing particular types of texts, but generally the style calls for the citation of a source directly before or after a quote, often using the words “said” or “stated.”
“If the manner of a man’s dying seems arbitrary, his morality is inescapable,” said Anderson.
The Best Writing Style for Social Work Majors
Social work combines many academic disciplines, but typically, social work courses call for assignments to be formatted in APA style, though this may vary between schools, programs, and individual professors. Your faculty will likely indicate which format they prefer in the course syllabus, but it never hurts to ask. Always be sure to follow formatting instructions exactly, as professors may penalize you for disregarding specific formatting requests.
Common Writing Mistakes Students Make
Active vs. passive voice.
One of the most common mistakes among developing writers is the use of passive voice, which makes sentences wordier, less immediate, and less clear. In the active voice, the sentence’s subject performs the action. Using passive voice, the subject receives the action. Passive construction occurs everywhere in writing, but there are easy strategies to help you locate it and convert your sentences to active voice.
Certain keywords and phrases, such as “by,” “was,” and “it was” often indicate the use of the passive voice. When revising your writing, look for these words and determine if they form part of a passive sentence. For example, if you notice the word “by” connected to the subject of the sentence, see if you can alter the construction so the subject occurs closer to the beginning of the sentence.
Improper comma usage often leads to confusion in writing. One of the most common errors is the comma splice, which occurs when a writer connects two independent clauses using only a comma. For example: “I don’t like accounting class, it’s too difficult.” Both “I don’t like accounting class” and “it’s too difficult” are independent clauses, meaning they can stand as separate sentences. To link these clauses correctly, a comma isn’t enough; you can often correct a comma splice by either creating two separate sentences, using a semicolon to link the two clauses together, or using a coordinating conjunction like “because.”
Incorrect semicolon and colon usage also causes problems for many writers. While they function similarly, these two punctuation marks serve different purposes. A semicolon links two separate, but related, thoughts: “I’m glad I’m going to Europe; I really need a vacation.” A colon typically sets off a list or an example: “I always bring three things on vacation: my camera, my suitcase, and my sunglasses.”
Grammar mistakes hinder writers of all skill levels. In an abstract sense, grammar forms the entire structure of a language and its usage, but in practice, many simple rules exist to help you keep track of and avoid common mistakes. For example, many writers struggle with the use of there, their, and they’re, but the differences in the words are quite pronounced. There indicates a location. Their is the possessive form of they. Finally, they’re is a contraction of “they” and “are.”
Another common grammatical mistake hinges on the confusion between its and it’s. The word its is a possessive that indicates ownership. On the other hand, it’s is a contraction of “it” and “is.”
Writing Resources for Social Work Students
- Purdue OWL : Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab offers support for all types of writing, with a wealth of instructional material that covers general writing strategies and the specific facets of academic writing.
- WiSP : Writing in Social Work Practice seeks to examine the role of writing in the field of social work, with the goal of improving the overall efficiency and effectiveness in social work writing practices.
- Foundation Center : Grant writing plays a major role in social work, and the Foundation Center offers resources to connect social workers with philanthropic organizations and improve grant writing skills.
- Grammar Girl : Casual and conversational, Grammar Girl offers general writing tips for all types of writers. Most articles highlight common writing mistakes and offer strategies for recognizing and fixing them.
- Council on Foundations : Another major resource for grant writers, the Council on Foundations offers online learning and mentorship services that help social workers develop their grant writing and public policy knowledge.
Disciplinary Approaches to Composing Texts
Writing in Social Work
by Dr. James Smalley
Even as most everything goes electronic, writing will continue to be the major component of social work and something all social workers need to be proficient at to succeed in the profession. Writing in social work can take the form of short case notes, longer case plans or treatment plans, writing to show client or program success to supervisors or funders and scholarly writing in the form of journals or books. Most often in the field, writing is done in either print (handwritten) or digital (computer) formats. If a social worker is presenting information to others, then writing will also be visual depending on the audience. While the writing a social worker will do will depend on the context (in their work, online, grants, books, etc.) there is one constant in social work – you will be writing!
Beginning social works will be doing case notes and case plans that require summarizing information about your work with clients. As, social workers progress and move into other roles in the profession the writing will change depending on the audience.
Writing in the Social Work classroom
Students will be writing papers in the classroom; and they will need to use information from books, journals, or from class or an experience, and summarize the information while providing their own thoughts about the material. This is very similar to writing in a professional setting where social workers need to take information from several sources and summarize the information while also providing their own professional opinions on the information. The major difference between writing in the classroom and in the profession is the length of writing. Most often in the field, social workers are asked to write with detail and information while keeping the writing as short as possible.
In academic writing, using headings and laying out a paper in an organized fashion are very helpful for the reader. Students will learn APA formatting for papers for their scholarly work so having an understanding of APA will be useful to students. Finally, in social work papers, students should provide as much detail as possible while keeping their papers within the limits of the assignment description and guidelines.
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Home — Essay Samples — Life — Professions & Career — Social Work
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Career Profile Research Assignment: a Career of Social Worker
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Social work is an academic discipline and practice-based profession concerned with meeting the basic needs of individuals, families, groups, communities, and society as a whole to enhance their individual and collective well-being.
Females account for around 83% of all social workers. Healthcare social workers and family, child, and school social workers are the highest paying social work jobs. Social workers helped decrease the number of juvenile arrests by 68% between 1996 and 2015. Social workers provide over 60% of mental health services.
Mahatma Gandhi, Jane Addams, Alfred Neumann, Frances Feldman, Ida B. Wells, Harriett Rinaldo, etc.
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- Career Goals
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Social Work as a Profession
Introduction, crisis theory, social work ethics, approaches to problem solving.
Social work is a social science that deals in ensuring social justice and preserving the sanctity of life. It is a profession that deals in restoring emotional balance in human beings that becomes impaired during moments of stress. The practice pursues the well-being of society at large. The body that governs the profession is known as the National Association of social workers. Under this body, the job description of social workers is to aid in the materializing of aims and goals.
This paper seeks to highlight the importance of the crisis theory in analysis of different types of stress and to further elaborate the codes of ethics governing the profession. It further gives the approach to problem solving. It outlines the steps in follow up procedure after treatment.
The Hope wellness centre is a counseling agency that focuses on the well being of major women and adolescents. They agency has a mission to restore social health of individuals so that they can have optimum functionality. The agency deals with issues like anger management, domestic violence, sexual offences, and substance and alcohol abuse.
One of the goals is to provide solutions to problems without sprouting new ones in the process by identifying root causes and capitalizing on them for restoration of well being to the client.
Another is to empower women and adolescents by solving the issues that cause them to deteriorate both mentally and emotionally, hereby creating hope for a better tomorrow.
Some of the values upheld in the organization include: confidentiality between the social worker and the client. No information is disclosed to anyone unless authorized by the legal framework. The company is committed to provide quality service. It has ensured this by having competent staff. Social workers who are knowledgeable in the profession and with credited experience. The company has a follow up policy to ensure full recovery of the clients it treats.
A crisis is as defined in the dictionary is a disaster, calamity, predicament, and an environmental occurrence that poses an external threat. Kaplan defines crisis as “a threat to homeostasis” (Kaplan, nod.).
During this state of mind, it is believed that an imbalance takes place so that a person lacks focus and has difficulty in maintaining order in their way of doing things. They are not their normal selves and seem to have switched off from reality. Usually one has no enthusiasm for life and even the things they used to enjoy most do not even make sense anymore. Usually a person is confronted by a situation they cannot handle by themselves and so it poses a threat to their whole being. A crisis is clinically noted to last a span of four to six weeks.
Stressors are factors that induce stress or active crisis for that matter. They comprise events and conditions. Events are happenings that are abrupt and don’t last for long for example death of a loved one. Conditions on the other hand develop over time. Events cause situational crises while conditions cause maturational crises.
There are stages in the advancement of the six weeks period. First stage: a person experiences overwhelming pressure from stressors. If a person does cope well no crisis develops but if they succumb due to failed coping mechanisms, then a crisis materializes.
In the second phase, the victim’s concern continues to transcend. As time goes by they cannot take it anymore and they begin to seek assistance, they become emotionally distant. This translates to the third stage. The final stage is the active crisis stage. The patient is depleted of any resources that give them hope they develop fear and cannot think straight. They perceive they are going mad. The thought of going crazy scares them to their wits.
Daphne (not real name) is a twelve-year-old girl whose mother is a single parent. Due to the economic pressure the mother was crumbling under, she sent her to stay with the uncle in the city. The uncle was one of those rich influential people. The sad part is that he had a wife but he still molested Daphne. Daphne could not dare say a word because she knew the ramifications of such an action. Therefore, she stayed silent and slowly by slowly her esteem and dignity died in the hands of someone who was supposed to be helping her.
From the above situation, we see both maturational and situational crises inhere life. Maturational: her mother being single, her uncle molesting her. Situational: absence of her father. Both stressors are affecting her and her ability to deal with the situation depends on her experience on tackling complex situations prior to the present one, her perception of the problems at hand and the level of positive or negative support.
“Crisis is not a pathological state; it may occur to anyone at any stage in his or her life span.” (Golan, 1978). Meaning no one is exempted from stress. “Few of us will ever experience psychopathology first hand. Less than 20% of the population will
Have a clinically severe depression and less than 2% a psychotic episode. But we will all experience active crisis in our lives” he argues.
Ethics in social work are guidelines and rules that are meant to keep the social workers in check, accountable. To avoid inappropriate behavior and for practitioners to be able to make informed decisions on the various cases they handle. They are, basically, to maintain law and order in the profession. They also help to set standards against which other practitioners can gauge their performance. They help to sustain the credibility of the profession per se.
Some of the codes and interpretations are as follows. Social workers are not supposed to have any relationships whether out of consent or coercion that in one way or the other takes advantage of the client generally, monetarily or sexually.
The client is not to be segregated or discriminated against at any point. This could mess with the healing process of a client or cause them to develop esteem issues they never had before in extreme cases.
Social workers are to make sure them only advice on what they are competent. They are not permitted to administer treatment on trial and error basis if they are not certified to do so no matter regardless of working experience.
It is the duty of a social worker to hold in awe the sovereignty of the client.They are sworn to secrecy to keep client information confidential. In harmony with the aforementioned, they are supposed to respect the opinions and beliefs of other practitioners in the profession.
In the profession some practitioners might get sloppy on their work, it is the duty of colleagues to keep them accountable to the profession.
Change is the only constant in life so social workers need to take refresher courses per time to stay at par with revisions in the discipline is it in the codes of ethics or the practice itself. This boosts efficiency since it saves the much treasured time, both the client’s and the social worker’s.
When attending to clients, social workers are required to have assistants to avoid overworking themselves and giving wrong diagnoses. They are also free to seek advice where need be.
Finally yet importantly social practitioners are indebted to the law. They must obey all the laws and regulations concerning the proper handling of clients. (Braniff, n.d.)
Compton and Galaway refer to the problem solving process as “a series of interactions between the client system and the practitioner, involving integration of feeling, thinking and doing, guided by a purpose and directed toward achieving an agreed-upon goal”. Before anything else, the problem has to be defined to get bearing on what action to take. People have experiences that inform their decisions in problem solving, but it is important to note that no one person can have all the information they need to solve a problem. In that light, people use heurists. Heurists are devices that contain information that acts as a standard that has been acquired through trial and error.
The process of problem solving is in stages as follows. The first phase is the contact phase: the problem has to be plainly identified. It is defined as perceived by all people involved in the situation and a clear root problem penned down. Next follows stating of goals both short term and those that will stretch into the future. The focus here is the client, how they see themselves progress, their determinations. It is also important to measure feasibility by establishing resources that will be available for implementation. Then comes validation of the process, the contract. Here the agency determines its capacity to handle the case and does further exploration into the nature of the problem. A further examination into the client’s drive, being and potential ability should be done.
The second phase is known as the Contract phase. It is broken down into four sections. The first section majors on reviewing and analysis of the circumstances surrounding the problem. One determines the relationship between the problem and the necessary requirements of the client. They also establish the issues that lubricate the existence of the problem. Questions have to be asked to bring out the strong points that the client possesses and the funds available to help in seeing the procedure through. The social worker can then determine the insights to be drawn from the profession to aid in solving the problem. They will also figure out how the information can be best incorporated into the process and what avenues to employ.
Section two of the phase is bent on deciding the best way forward and how to get there. The social worker is cautioned to avoid setting up the client for disappointment by suggesting or setting ridiculous and unrealistic goals. They are to outsource experiment and analyze different substitutes and their implications on the end result. After doing all the research the social worker can then, drawing from the options determined, decide on the principles of the practice to integrate. He or she can determine what to focus on depending on the magnitude of work that the problem demands. This way they can avoid creating more problems hen solving the root one. It also saves on time in that one is confined to the one procedure that will actually yield results instead of circumnavigating. The social worker should ensure that at this point they clearly define the responsibilities of the client and their own to avoid conflict of interests.
In the third section: prognosis, the social worker should have a projection of what they expect as outcome. They should have an opinion whether they anticipate success and how much.
The third and the final phase is the Action Phase. It has three sections: implementation of the plan, termination and Evaluation. The first section is basically delegation of duties for materialization of the agreed upon solution. Timing is essential in accomplishing this and a social worker has the challenge of determining exactly when to intervene. There has to be a clear plan on the funds and services that will be employed in realizing the plan. To achieve the aforementioned, it is essential that every team member knows exactly what he or she are assigned to do and when he or she are required to do it.
The termination section involves wrapping it up with the client. There is analysis of the outcomes. The client needs to be brought to speed on the occurrences during the process and their translations and relevance to them. In case there was a setback in the process, the client is made aware of it and further given an explanation on the causes of the failure. The social worker should be careful not to dwell on the negative so much so that it overshadows the positive elements of the process. The successes are the main objectives of the process and the client should be encouraged to focus more on these and how to sustain the impacts. At this point interaction between the client and the social worker is coming to an end and they should both be made aware of this so they can deal with it.
The worker, where he or she sits down and determines whether the set goals were achieved effectively, mostly does Evaluation. Though evaluation is progressive throughout the whole process, general evaluation has to be done. The worker reviews to establish whether the process served its purpose. In addition, whether the options that were taken were effective in bringing about the desired change in the client. He or she also investigates to determine what the client got out of the process that they could reuse in the same process or in future. The worker notes down all he or she can gather on how to help the next client with a similar situation.
When the problem solving process comes to an end it is important that the worker gets feedback on the progress of the client. The agency has avenues through which it does this. Primarily the agency maintains contact with the client to ensure full recovery. Occasional calls are made in effect to this. An extended relationship by the social worker helps the client feel cared for and so seeks to maintain the successes of the process. When they do this for as long as twenty-one days, it gets into their system and becomes a habit so they gain full recovery. The worker also goes an extra mile and visits the client at their place of residence only if they are comfortable. This helps in analyzing how well the client is restored to normalcy.
The agency also organizes sessions after the treatment sessions to get a one on one with the client. By so doing, they are able to assess first hand and from clients behavior whether they have reached full recovery or might still be struggling. It could also be an avenue to investigate whether other problems or situations cropped up because of the treatment. If any, that will be a decision that will be made by the client whether to start another episode of treatment or not, the worker will only give their advice where they deem necessary.
As a way of encouraging the recovery, the clients are called back to give talks to other clients undergoing the same cases. This way the clients still in the program get hope and the one giving the talks gains confidence. If a person can talk about what they have been through to a group of strangers then, the agency believes, there is no better gauge for an effective process.
In conclusion, any organization should have a scope that it targets to service. It is known as identifying the target audience. Hope wellness centre focuses on women and adolescents and their issues. It has values like confidentiality, competence and accountability that it upholds to the latter.
It is essential for social workers to understand the crisis theory and how it works for them to be effective in serving clients. They have to know the different types of crises: situational and maturational and how to handle both. They have to know the phases of crisis through the 4-6 weeks that one goes through when under stress.
The workers should also understand the problem solving process and be one with it. They should internalize all the phases: Contact, Contract and Action phase. This will help them have a whole list of satisfied clients which goes a long way in creating good publicity for the agency.
Follow up and feedback is necessary and should not be neglected at any cost. They should take it as free advice on how to do it better next time. Clients should be called up to find out how they are fairing and called for sessions for analysis. They could also be visited at their homes to see how well adapted they have become. They can be called back for mentorship to others undergoing the same treatments they did.
The writer however thinks the important in the whole treatment and recovery process should involve the workers focusing all their energies in convincing the clients that the problems can be solved and that the crisis would be no sooner rather than later. Once the client believes in their ability to get well, the task becomes downhill, the client becomes motivated to get better. All that the social worker has to do is lead the way and keep the client disciplined in the process of recovery.
Braniff R., (n.d.). Ethical Decisions making: simplified strategies for complex cases . 2010. Web.
Code of Ethics. (2010.). Web.
Crisis theory & Intervention. (n.d.). 2010. Web.
Rapoport L., (1962). State of crisis: Some theoretical considerations . Web.
Social Work Treatment. (2010.). Web.
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Essay on Why I want to Become a Social Worker
Social work is something that satisfies our soul and many of us want to become a social worker. It is up to us and our power, how much we can do? It is not necessary to always help people with money; all you need is a pure heart and a helping soul.
Short and Long Essays on Why I want to Become a Social Worker in English
Here are some essays of 100 – 120 Words, 250 Words, 500 Words, and 600 Words limit on this topic, hope you would like them:
Why I want to Become a Social Worker Essay 10 Lines (100 – 150 Words)
1) Every time I see needy people, I eagerly want to help them.
2) My grandfather says, if God made you capable, you should help needy ones.
3) My grandfather is an inspiration for me, he serves for humanity that I love the most.
4) I cannot see any person in trouble.
5) Helping others let me feel a different type of relaxation.
6) Once I read about Mother Teresa that influenced me a lot.
7) Since childhood I aim to remove poverty from my country.
8) I like the kind-heartedness of the social workers.
9) I like how social workers are respected and loved by all.
10) Social working is a very self-satisfactory and soulful service.
Essay 1 (250 Words) – Why I want to Become a Social Worker?
Social work is something that gives me happiness and a kind of satisfaction. The importance of charity has been mentioned in our ancient mythological books. But there are very few who follow. Some of us just do charity to get someplace in heaven. But Social work or charity is something that should be done by heart and only by those who really want to help others.
All of us just need one reason to love any work and my reason is my mother. I learned from her and I want to be like her. I have seen her feeding beggars and poor, who were unable. No one uses to go hungry from our door. All these things inspired me a lot and I also want to contribute myself as a social worker.
My mother is a homemaker, so; she cannot travel across the city and do charity on a large scale. She also has to take care of us as well as our pets. But I have decided to help her once I complete my school. I want to arrange different stalls in the different corners of the city. In this way, every needy can easily get food and no one will be hungry in my city. I have also decided to open an NGO. Where I can also provide other basic things like cloth, free education for children, etc, and help everyone. Really it feels fantastic when we help someone.
All of us should spare some time in helping the society because there are people who are unable to buy everything. You can help in many ways, depending on your abilities. It gives an amazing satisfaction and believes me you will love it.
Essay 2 (400 Words) – Qualities of a Social Worker
Charity somewhere called “Daan” in Hindi that people do for the poor. It has a vast meaning, and it can be of any type. Charity does not only mean donating money. It can be any help as per your power and ability. There are some people who do charity throughout their life and are called social workers. They are people who live for the sake of society and the needy.
Some Unique Qualities of Social Workers
There are people who live for others and the whole nation as well the world is their family. They live for them and do each and everything for others. They like helping others and making others happy, they fight for others’ rights and bring justice to them. Some qualities of these life-changing warriors are;
- They never hesitate of taking risk; they do everything for helping others and are always ready to take risks. Sometimes a group of people fights against a government or a big organization, but these warriors do everything and support people for justice. We can also call them brave.
- They are kind-hearted, it is their kind heart that melts them and encourages them to help others. They can feel the pain of the poor and they do everything they can.
- A social worker should be intelligent because sometimes people also fool them, so they should do charity but at the same time should have a sharp mind to analyze the truth and take further actions.
- They should really have good communication skills because it is not everyone who can share his problems. But these warriors know how to communicate and make others feel safe with them.
- Apart from the above qualities a social worker should also be loyal, should have good tolerating power, should have patience, etc.
It is our duty to help the needy but most of us skip. Develop a positive attitude and it will definitely help you. Charity is not only a word but also a kind of devotion. There are many NGOs in our country still we can see many poor children on the road. Now it’s time and we have to become active and our single step can change the nation. The only thing we have to do is, take the needy to the required place for example if you see any old age person on the road you can take them to the old age home. If you find any kind of domestic violence in your neighboring, you can complain. This is also a kind of social work.
Essay 3 (500 – 600 Words) – How can I Become a Social Worker?
If you are able to help someone in any way, then believe me you are blessed. Not everyone has the courage to help or give something. Either you offer water to the strangers in the hot summer, or you feed the poor. All are different types of social work. Apart from this if you raise your voice against any social issues or a group of people and help them. Then this is also a kind of social work. I can define social work as a kind of work where you get satisfaction and blessings in return.
Different Types of Social Workers
Depending on their personal interest people do various types of social work, I have differentiated them into various groups;
- Working for a certain Community or Organization : They work for a community or organization; they advocate them or raise their voice against any kind of issue in these communities. Sometimes they also have to fight against the government and a social worker supports them for justice.
- Social Help for Old Age : There are some organizations as well as people who ensure that there is no old person sleeping on the road due to lack of shelter. Sometimes people throw their parents away from their home, although it is an inhuman act, still every year many old aged people are found on the road. This type of social worker enforces their powers for their development.
- Social Workers for Children : Children are not safe everywhere, there are some people who perform some inhuman act and do not allow children to get their basic rights. These kinds of social workers ensure the safety of children and whenever they feel or see something fishy, they take action or inform the police.
- Women and Physically Disabled : Whenever someone is in trouble, there are many NGOs and people, always ready to help them. But very few of us know about it. These social workers have an eye and whenever they feel anything uncommon, they provide help. Similarly, there are people and organizations that work for women as well as physically disabled people.
How to be a Social Worker
The very first thing required to be a social worker is the inner determination and will power to do anything for others. Once you make sure about helping others you can follow the below steps;
- One should complete his graduation from Social Work or Sociology as a subject.
- Can also have a master’s degree for more knowledge.
- There are many certificate courses available for this and one should also apply for a license for running an NGO or being a certified social worker.
- Apart from these educational backgrounds, one should also have some qualities like one should be sensitive, kind, helping nature, polite in behaviour, loyal, etc.
- Suppose you don’t have any degree and want to do something for your society, you can simply help others the way you like. If you have enough money you can donate, if you have the power you can benefit others, if you have physical strength you can help the poor in different ways. Depending on your ability you can also be a social worker.
Sometimes people badly need help and when someone helps them, they just feel as if God has sent someone for their help. Their happiness cannot be expressed in words. Really it is a great job and if you are able please help others. In Indian mythologies, it has been mentioned that God has made both rich as well as poor. And if someone is rich; he should take care of the poor and in this way a society develops. If you develop alone your country or city will not be called developed. Until and unless each and every person meets his basic needs.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
Ans . Social work was started as a profession for the first time in the 19th century.
Ans . A social worker is a person who helps in solving different issues of people.
Ans . Yes, it is a good carrier choice as there are several opportunities in this field.
Ans . Thounaojam Iboyaima is regarded as the father of social work.
Ans . Social Work Education begins in India in 1936 after the establishment of Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work in Mumbai.
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