Social work as a profession is of relatively recent origin. Individuals were first hired as social workers around 1900, and formalized training in social work was first offered at universities in the early 1900s.Social work is the professional activity of helping individuals, groups, families, organizations, and communities to enhance or restore their capacity for social functioning and to create societal conditions favorable to their goals. A social worker is a multiskilled professional. The social worker needs training and expertise in a wide range of areas to be able to deal effectively with problems faced by individuals, groups, families, organizations, and the larger community.
Like the general practitioner in medicine, a social worker should acquire a wide range of skills and intervention techniques. Social work is distinct from other careers in that it is the profession that has the responsibility and mandate to provide social services. The ability to counsel clients effectively is perhaps the most basic skill a social worker needs. Second in importance is probably the ability to interact effectively with other groups and professionals in the community.
Social workers work with individuals, groups, families, organizations, and communities. The social worker helps people increase their capacities for problem solving and coping, helps them obtain needed resources, facilitates interactions between individuals and between people and their environments, helps make organizations responsible to people, and influences social policies. There are several types of professional social work activities: casework, case management, group work, group therapy, family therapy, community organization, administration, research, consulting, planning, supervision, and teaching.