Why Writing Works

Disciplinary Approaches to Composing Texts

Social Work: Disciplinary Perspective

by Dr. James Smalley

As a field, social work is concerned with helping individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being. It aims to help people develop their skills and their ability to use their own resources and those of the community to resolve problems.  Social work has a historical connection to psychology, sociology and other aspects of other social science fields.

Social work values are outlined in the professions Code of Ethics from the National Association of Social Workers. This code is what defines social work practice with all individuals, organizations and communities. Social workers value: service, social justice, the dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. These values, along with our ethics, are unique to the social work profession. 

Professional organizations

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the professional organization for social workers in the United States.  Several practice groups also have professional organizations, such as a School Social Worker Association of America, the National Organization of Forensic Social Work or the Association of Oncology Social Workers. Other countries also have professional associations for social workers and there is even an International Federation of Social Workers.

Many of these same professional organizations that are important for practice also play an important role in scholarly work in social work.  Most of these organizations have professional journals that promote the scholarly writing and education of social workers.


Writing in Social Work

Reading in Social Work

Research in Social Work

Documentation in Social Work