Why Writing Works

Disciplinary Approaches to Composing Texts

Documentation in Social Work

by Dr. James Smalley

 In the social work field, documentation is the most used writing for social workers. The most important part of the documentation is citing where the information comes from (most often the client or another person close to the client) so that the social worker’s bias and opinions can be limited. Documentation is the communication that happens between social workers and others who may be working with their clients such as health care professionals, courts, teachers or therapists. The clear and concise writing in documentation is very important to let other professionals know what has been done and what the plan in the future is for the client.  A basic truth in social work is: “If it is not documented, it did not happen,” meaning social workers need to document everything when it comes to clients and their work.

Citation style

In scholarly writing, students use APA (American Psychological Association) style. In the field, social workers need to cite their sources (most often the client) and be very clear about where information comes from in order to be professional. Documenting sources is extremely important for social workers! 


Social Work Overview

Writing in Social Work

Reading in Social Work

Research in Social Work