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Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Career

Career Description

Assess and treat individuals with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs. Activities may include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, case management, client advocacy, prevention, and education.

What Job Titles Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Might Have

  • Case Manager
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Mental Health Therapist
  • Social Worker

What Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Do

  • Counsel clients in individual or group sessions to assist them in dealing with substance abuse, mental or physical illness, poverty, unemployment, or physical abuse.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress with respect to treatment goals.
  • Interview clients, review records, conduct assessments, or confer with other professionals to evaluate the mental or physical condition of clients or patients.
  • Collaborate with counselors, physicians, or nurses to plan or coordinate treatment, drawing on social work experience and patient needs.
  • Counsel or aid family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, or supporting the client or patient.
  • Refer patient, client, or family to community resources for housing or treatment to assist in recovery from mental or physical illness, following through to ensure service efficacy.
  • Modify treatment plans according to changes in client status.
  • Educate clients or community members about mental or physical illness, abuse, medication, or available community resources.
  • Assist clients in adhering to treatment plans, such as setting up appointments, arranging for transportation to appointments, or providing support.
  • Increase social work knowledge by reviewing current literature, conducting social research, or attending seminars, training workshops, or classes.
  • Plan or conduct programs to prevent substance abuse, combat social problems, or improve health or counseling services in community.
  • Supervise or direct other workers who provide services to clients or patients.

What Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Should Be Good At

  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

What Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Should Be Interested In

  • Social - Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Artistic - Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

What Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Need to Learn

  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Clerical - Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Sun iconThis career has a bright outlook.
Diploma iconThis career requires a graduate degree.
Median Salary: $42,700

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.