How We Can Change Perceptions About Social Work
A key purpose of conducting focus groups across the country was to test concepts (words and graphics) that could represent the social work profession in a multi-media campaign. Both social workers and members of the public related best to creative concepts that positioned social workers as committed professionals who connect people in need with important resources-in multiple settings.
Given the public's basic understanding of social work as a "helping profession," and our desire to increase awareness about where, how, and to whom, social workers provide services, we have concluded that we want to own and build upon the "helping" position. Based on what the public already believes, we want to further promote that: "Social workers have the right education, experience, and dedication to help people help themselves whenever and wherever they need it."
In this campaign, we plan to showcase the many ways Americans of all walks of life come in contact with social work services. We want to tell compelling stories about the diverse people who benefit from these services-and the professionals who are dedicated to the work. We do this in magazine and newspaper ads, in materials sent to journalists across the country, through myriad partner organizations, on our websites, and on radio and TV programs.
More Americans need to know that social workers are valuable resources for anyone who needs help navigating complex support systems such as patient education, end-of-life planning, substance abuse treatment, crisis intervention, mental health counseling, and employee assistance, among other services. Social workers are everywhere, in every community, and they are helping all types of people every day.
As part of our campaign we have focused on individuals between the ages of 35-54 who we believe will be most interested in learning how social workers can help their families. Many of these people, especially women, in the "Sandwich Generation" are working to raise their own children, while also taking care of elderly parents and other aging relatives. They are looking for advice, tools, and hope, on a range of issues. Social workers can, and do, provide all these things.