Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

What they do:

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.

On the job, you would:

  • Counsel clients in individual or group sessions to assist them in dealing with substance abuse, mental or physical illness, poverty, unemployment, or physical abuse.
  • Collaborate with counselors, physicians, or nurses to plan or coordinate treatment, drawing on social work experience and patient needs.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress with respect to treatment goals.
  • 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.
  • Counsel or aid family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, or supporting the client or patient.
  • Modify treatment plans according to changes in client status.
  • 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.
  • Develop or advise on social policy or assist in community development.
  • Interview clients, review records, conduct assessments, or confer with other professionals to evaluate the mental or physical condition of clients or patients.

Knowledge

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Philosophy and Theology
  • Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
  • Law and Government
  • Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • 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.
  • Administration and Management
  • Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Skills

  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Active Listening
  • Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking
  • Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Service Orientation
  • Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking
  • Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Coordination
  • Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Monitoring
  • Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Writing
  • Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities

  • Oral Expression
  • The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension
  • The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Written Comprehension
  • The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Written Expression
  • The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Work Activities

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Getting Information
  • Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People
  • Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

Interests

  • 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.
  • First Interest High-Point
  • Primary-Rank Descriptiveness
  • Conventional
  • Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Third Interest High-Point
  • Tertiary-Cutoff/Rank Descriptiveness
  • Enterprising
  • Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Second Interest High-Point
  • Secondary-Cutoff/Rank Descriptiveness
  • Realistic
  • Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Work Styles

  • Concern for Others
  • Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Self Control
  • Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Integrity
  • Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Social Orientation
  • Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Dependability
  • Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Cooperation
  • Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility
  • Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Stress Tolerance
  • Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Attention to Detail
  • Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Persistence
  • Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.