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Angelo State University
Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work

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Fact Myth Puzzle Shows Facts Or Mythology

Social Work Myths and Facts

The rewards and empowering qualities of the social work profession are catching on with many Americans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 607,300 social workers practice in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow by nearly 20 percent during the next decade, adding about 115,000 professionals to the field. 

However, the social services profession has several myths and misconceptions, which can give some looking to embark on social worker training the wrong idea or even put them off entirely.

Here are some common myths about social work:

Myth: Most social workers work for the government. 

Reality: About a third of all professional social workers are employed by federal, state and local governments combined.  

Myth: For therapy you need a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Reality: Professional social workers are the nation’s largest providers of mental health and therapy services. Professional social workers are often the only mental health care providers serving residents of many poor, rural counties. Social work is designated as one of the four core mental health professions under federal legislation that established the National Institute of Mental Health.  

Myth: Most social workers are employed in public welfare or child welfare.

Reality: About one-quarter of all child welfare cases are handled by professional social workers. About 1 percent of National Association of Social Workers members work in the public sector. Professional social workers practice in many settings:

  • Family service agencies
  • Mental health centers
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Corporations
  • Courts
  • Police departments
  • Prisons
  • Public and private agencies
  • Private practice

More than 200 professional social workers hold elective offices, including one U.S. senator and four representatives.

Myth: Social service employees, caseworkers and volunteers are “social workers.” 

Reality: A social worker is a trained professional who has a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate in social work. All states license or otherwise regulate social work practice. A social service employee, caseworker, or volunteer community worker is not a “social worker” unless he or she has a social work degree.