What is Social Work?


- A Wholistic Profession -

Social work is a regulated allied health profession. All Canadian provinces have legislation in place that requires a regulatory college to ensure ethical practice. You must be registered with a provincial regulatory body to hold the title of social worker. The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers also sets standards for competent and professional practice. What sets social work apart from other allied health professions is it's emphasis on the role ones' social context plays in their well-being.

Social workers treat people wholistically by considering how factors such as: culture, society, inequity, and social exclusion impact ones' sense of self, psychological well-being, and relationship to the wider world. Social workers are instructed in the following areas of study:

  • Mental Health & Addictions
  • Psychosocial Assessment & Diagnosis
  • Counselling & Psychotherapy
  • Group & Family Interventions
  • Community Development & Organizing
  • Social Policy, Political Systems, & Human Rights
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Research & Program Evaluation
  • The Effects of Social Inequity, Oppression, & Marginalization

In North America, social workers are the primary providers of mental health care in both the public and private sectors. For example, in Ontario social workers are one of several allied health professionals able to engage in the Controlled Act of Psychotherapy as per the Psychotherapy Act, 2007, S.O. 2007, c. 10, Sched. R. In some Canadian provinces, such as British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, social workers are able to engage in the Controlled Act of Communicating a Diagnosis. For more information about the social work profession please visit the Canadian Association of Social Workers.