The poverty and inequality rampant in the European states contributed to the early development of social work. This discipline witnessed several reformations after the technological advancements of the 18th century. We can observe how this institution has undergone numerous transformations since the emergence of global digitization. Social workers realize that they require adaptability to modern trends for survival and progress in this field. These trends will keep influencing this humanitarian institution in this COVID-ridden world. Some of them have already become “norms” of the area of social work. That’s why professionals must learn about these trends if they wish to excel in their department.
Top trends in social work right now
Social workers aim to promote growth, development, and empowerment among human beings. But challenges to human progress haven’t remained the same, have they? That’s why social work adopts new trends to combat these ever-evolving challenges. Besides COVID-19, several problems pose severe threats to our society right now. These threats can’t get swept away without incorporating the changes in the institution of social work. Some of these trends are as follows:
- Evidence-based practice:-
“Evidence-based practice” has ceased to be a mere buzzword. It’s become an essential component of clinical research since it improves transparency and encourages accountability. Over the previous decade, EBP has overshadowed the institution of social work. The growing competition for funds, materials, and resources will motivate more social workers to pursue EBP in their department. The focus of this practice is to improve a client’s experience and make better outcomes possible. It isn’t true that EBP follows a one-size-for-all perspective. It deals with the rejection of treatments that have no scientific basis. So, social workers only employ experimentally beneficial tactics.
- Reduced paperwork:-
The arrival of the digital age has encouraged more social workers to abandon their dependency on paperwork. The traditional form-filling causes them to waste their time instead of employing it in meaningful pursuits. Digital processing is – doubtlessly- the most modern of all recent trends.
- Distance learning:-
The internet has enabled students to gain expertise in social work via digital means. Similarly, the coronavirus pandemic popularized the concept of distance learning. Many social workers can now enhance their credentials through e-learning without sacrificing their current jobs. Professionals now seek online DSW programs to improve their graduate-level education. Quality education in the comfort of your home has become a dream come true for many individuals. The trend of digital pedagogy welcomes many new students into social work, making e-learning a crucial part of MSW/DSW courses. Many workers of this discipline believe that this trend will last forever.
- Tapping into technology:-
Technology enables clients to securely and effectively communicate with social workers. Experts have tapped into modern applications to offer video-based lectures, social network support, and digital counseling programs to their clients. Similarly, electronic record-keeping allows social workers to maintain/update the medical history of their patients effortlessly. Likewise, social media platforms permit social workers to market their services internationally and provide collective support to different clients. Globalization gave birth to effects that are visible and beneficial for the general populace. It has made it easier for patients to find valuable social help online.
- Intervention and prevention:-
The 19th century marked a significant shift in medical sciences when doctors focused more on preventing diseases than their treatment. Social workers assist people suffering from problems such as mental health and substance abuse as the need for intervention/prevention has elevated. The cases of substance abuse were on the rise last year due to the pandemic. A CDC survey showed that over 13% of respondents had started/increased substance (drugs & alcohol). Social workers focus on rehabilitation via intervention to curb this alarming increase in drug consumption. These methods succeed in bringing down the number of people suffering from an addiction.
- Trends in employment:-
The job outlook of social work has seen a strong streak of improvement since the start of this century. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this discipline to grow by 13% in this decade, a rate this is “much faster than average.” Moreover, social workers also earn over $50,000 annually, which is higher than the median salary most American professionals earn. Also, experts estimated the creation of more than 40,000 employment positions in this department before 2022. These statistics will encourage more students to pursue a career in social work. During the pandemic, we need to incorporate more social workers into healthcare to combat the public’s suffering.
- Ideas about trauma:-
Disasters such as 9/11 and Katrina traumatized the nation. But these incidents also made people realize the importance of social workers when it comes to assisting trauma patients. Thanks to television, it’s possible not to be horrified by events of violence and murder in the country. That’s why a dominant trend in the social sphere is to find means to help trauma victims. As violence in America comes in different shapes and forms, traditional recovery methods aren’t as effective. So, social work experts learn skills that allow them to treat trauma patients in the 21st century. They also educate people – especially veterans – regarding the harms of PTSD and its possible cures.
- Promoting self-advocacy:-
Another trend that has transformed social work in the 21st century involves the empowerment of the patient. Social workers encourage people to practice self-learning and self-advocacy. Since shifting responsibilities to the client leads to better outcomes and more effective results.
- Parity with mental health issues:-
We observed that the pandemic had negatively influenced people’s mental health. A study shows that nearly 20% of coronavirus patients developed mental health issues after recovery. Similarly, disorders such as anxiety and depression climbed among Americans in 2020. That’s why experts have identified COVID-19 as a psychosocial epidemic as well. Social workers collaborate with mental health professionals to diminish our nation’s declining mental health and treat patients suffering from declining psychological well-being. Advocacy groups have contributed to spreading awareness regarding behavioral health problems encountered by employees working for large corporations.
The massive social changes of the 21st century transformed all disciplines into sophisticated institutions of modern times. Our world’s emerging technology – tied with global health crises – brought some reforms into the traditional field of social work as well. Modernization allowed clients to receive quality care through telemedicine. It also allowed students/professionals to seek higher education digitally for career advancement in social work. The field became paperless with the advent of the cloud, and trauma solutions were well-observed under the light of evidence-based practice. Moreover, social workers started supporting self-advocacy among their clients. These changes, experts believe, are here to stay.