What people think they know about Social Work is often a myth . . .

Myth: Most social workers work for the government.

Fact: Fewer than 3 percent of all professional social workers work for the federal government. About one-third of all professional social workers are employed by federal, state, and local governments combined. 

Myth: You need to be a psychologist or psychiatrist to provide therapy.

Fact: 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.

Fact: About one-quarter of all child welfare cases are handled by professional social workers. About 1 percent of NASW members works in public assistance. Professional social workers practice in many settings: family services agencies, mental health centers, schools, hospitals, corporations, courts, police departments, prisons, public and private agencies, and private practice. More than 200 professional social workers hold elective office, including two U.S. Senators and four Representatives.

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

Fact: A social worker is a trained professional who has a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree 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.


The content of this page is from the pamphlet "CHOICES Careers in Social Work," developed by the National Association of Social Workers, Washington DC (NASW), 750 First Street, NE, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20002. Used with permission.