Social work is a profession that cares for and protects people. But how do you care for people when they don’t have many other supports, or when they face oppression that makes it hard for them to speak up? That’s when being a social worker advocate comes in to improve conditions.
In today’s world, advocacy is a vital part of social justice. And that’s why social workers are returning to school to obtain an online Master of Social Work degree from reputable course providers like Spalding University. In short, they know that social work involves much more than it did in the past. So, a program like Spalding’s online Master’s, which focuses on social justice and an action-oriented community, provides the skills essential to become a social worker advocate.
If you want to be an advocate, there are some things you should keep in mind as a social worker. Here are a few helpful tips for successfully advocating for marginalized people.
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Distinguish between research and opinions
As you know, social workers need to make evidence-based decisions. So, as a social worker, knowing when to use your expertise and clinical judgment is essential. Sometimes, you have to help people make crucial life decisions. As a social worker, you may discuss whether someone should go into treatment or how to find vital social services. You may have to help someone choose which school to attend or what job to take. Thus, knowing how to research quality programs and avoiding opinions is crucial to the work.
Take action to support marginalized people — always
As a social worker, you can’t simply tell people to “be more aware” of privilege. Moreover, it’s even more challenging if you’re a social worker who is supposed to help people unpack and address their privilege — and yours. But taking action is the difference between a lifetime of feeling helpless and a chance to be an agent of change. So, if you want to serve as a social worker advocate, you may select from various forms of activism. For instance, you could focus on community organizing, public policy, or mental health policy.
Don’t let fear stop you from helping marginalized people
If you’re a social worker interested in advocacy, you might be afraid of potential backlash. It’s a genuine concern. Sometimes, it’s hard to not feel anxious about the possible consequences of your work. Social workers face challenges but also many opportunities and support. So, look at speaking up as a matter of doing the right thing. Even if it makes you uncomfortable, your clients need your help.
Be kind and respectful
Finally, there’s a lot of discrimination against people who identify as LGBT people, immigrants, people with disabilities, and people who don’t conform to gender norms. As we know, there’s also a lot of discrimination against people of color. As a social worker, it is vital to show basic respect toward your clients. Remember that they may be unable to speak up for themselves in certain situations. So, use respectful language when you talk with your clients. Language, like “you” and “your”, is beneficial. Furthermore, try using gender-neutral terminology when appropriate.