Definition of Social Work

Social Work is the professional activity of helping individuals, groups, or communities enhance or restore their capacity for social functioning and creating societal conditions favorable to this goal. Social Work practice consists of the professional application of Social Work values, principles, and techniques to one or more of the following ends: helping people obtain tangible services; counseling and psychotherapy with individuals, families, and groups; helping communities or groups provide or improve processes. The practice of Social Work requires knowledge of human development and behavior; of social, economic, and cultural institutions; and of the interactions of all these factors.

Social Work is concerned and involved with the interactions between people and the institutions of society that affect the ability of people to accomplish life tasks, realize aspirations and values, and  alleviate distress. These interactions between people and social institutions occur within the context of the larger societal good. Therefore, three major purposes of social work may be identified:

  • to enhance the problem-solving, coping and developmental capacities of people;
  • to promote the effective and humane operation of the systems that provide people with resources and services;
  • to link people with systems that provide them with resources, services, and opportunities.