3 Facts About Poverty and Social Work

By Sam Engel

Working with the impoverished is one of the most important services that a social worker can provide to society. Due to the systemic oppression that individuals in poverty face due to the capitalist society that exists today, they need the help of social workers more than ever. Having a lack of money puts one at a severe disadvantage in society, and it’s a social worker’s job to help bridge that divide. Here’s three facts about social workers and poverty!

  1. The goal of social workers is to help individuals and families escape poverty. This is a tough task in itself, however a social worker can provide a variety of services, including referrals to human needs services, assistance with filing for government-subsidized housing and programs, and even providing education and job training programs.
  2. Self-empowerment is a crucial part of social work. Social workers try to help people help themselves, and empowerment plays a huge role in this goal. The importance of educating the impoverished on self-advocacy cannot be understated. This will encourage them to get involved in public policy, and hopefully improve the community around them.
  3. The impoverished are at a huge disadvantage in terms of educational opportunities. They are at such a disadvantage due to the institutional racism and systemic oppression that exists in society.


DiNitto, Diana M., and Carl Aaron. McNeece. Social Work: Issues and Opportunities in a Challenging Profession. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990. Print.

3 Facts About Social Work and Child Welfare

By Sam Engel

One of the most important places in society in which a social worker is needed is in child welfare. Child welfare social workers provide a wide variety of services to make sure that children are not living in hazardous conditions. Therefore, social work in child welfare is extremely important and absolutely invaluable. Here’s three facts about child welfare social work!

  1. Socio-economic status affects the likelihood of child maltreatment. While child maltreatment occurs at all socio-economic levels, children who are of a lower socio-economic standing, especially those in poverty, are more susceptible to maltreatment and mistreatment. This is unfortunate, as the impoverished are even less likely to receive the necessary services that they need for a higher quality of life, leading to widespread frustration and potentially child abuse. Something to keep in mind: there are an estimated 13 million children currently living below the poverty line.
  2. Abused children have to take on more responsibilities than usual. Abused children often have to take on the role of a parental figure to younger or other siblings. On top of this, they often have to deal with their parents’ difficulties, and more likely than not, their parents’ drug addiction. That’s because about 2/3 of parents involved in child welfare have a substance addiction.
  3. There are many ways a social worker can help! This could include direct services to the child (such as crisis intervention) and holding an administrative position at a shelter.


DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books

3 Facts About Clinical Social Work

By Sam Engel

One of the most prevalent places in which social workers are needed is in hospitals and other health care facilities. This is known as clinical social work. Clinical social workers can provide a variety of services, from providing links to services for the patient’s family to providing direct patient care. As the demand for more health care professionals skyrockets, including mental health care professionals, social workers are now needed more than ever! Here’s three facts about social work in the clinical setting.

  1. Social workers are involved in multiple levels of health care. This includes the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of health care. The primary level of health care is direct care to the patient, and this can include providing psychotherapy treatments. The secondary level of health care includes preventative care, such as mental hygiene and continual therapies. The tertiary level of health care includes health care education (Class Lecture 3/1/2016).
  2. Social workers provide necessary advocacy for minority patients. Specifically, the LGBT community is stigmatized in the health care system, and they are unfortunately discriminated against by some health care professionals. Social workers provide advocacy for this community of patients, and as a result, primary care clinics are beginning to combat these discriminatory sentiments (DiNitto & McNeece, 2012).
  3. Other health care professionals use social work as a training model. Many of the core pillars of social work are now stressed when training new physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. This includes providing the highest quality of care, and maintaining positive patient interactions (Class Lecture 3/1/2016).

3 Facts About Social Workers and Disabilities

By Sam Engel

To be in social work is to be in the profession of helping others. Not to say that those with disabilities cannot help themselves, but those with disabilities, both mental and physical, are at a disadvantage in society, especially given the variety of stigmas surrounding disabilities. Here’s three facts about disabilities in social work!

  1. People with disabilities don’t have a strong base of public support. This is much different from other minorities that are discriminated against, such as the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, this leads to open, accepted public discrimination and people become desensitized to the horrors of dehumanization. This lack of grassroots support makes it even more difficult to pass comprehensive legislation that protects the disabled from discrimination in public and in the workplace.
  2. Fortunately, there’s already a law that aims to end discrimination against the disabled. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was created mainly to combat discrimination in the workplace and access to facilities and services. While the act has vastly decreased said discrimination, people with disabilities still have extremely high rates of unemployment, causing an inability to necessary services and health care.
  3. More laws that prevent discrimination against the disabled are difficult to create. This is due to the nature of the laws, and the systemic discrimination in the government systems that crease said laws. Drafting and creating anti-discrimination laws takes time and money, and the funding for the programs in a new law that protects one subsection of the disabled often comes from the funding of law that protects from the subsection of another disabled group.


DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.

3 Facts About Geriatric Social Work

By Sam Engel

Geriatric (Elderly people) Social work is an often under-appreciated, yet highly necessary, branch of social work. It’s a field that has a varying range of ages, however the general consideration is that an individual is considered to be geriatric if they are over the age of 65. Here’s three facts about geriatric social work!

  1. A large portion of the elderly have disabilities that are extremely debilitating. In fact, about 1/3 of all elderly Americans have some form of a severe disability, and these disabilities become more severe as the individual becomes older (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 272). This is detrimental to the individual with the disability, however it is also detrimental to their wallet; the increasing severity of the disability is going to increase the costs of living, including the potential costs of palliative care later on in life.
  2. The elderly are often cared for by unpaid caretakers. Most of these people are family members of the individual that’s being cared for. In fact, it’s estimated that there are 34 million unpaid caretakers in the United States that provide care to those over the age of 50 (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 279). Most of the time, these people are spouses, children, or family-in-laws to the elderly individual.
  3. Protective services are extremely important. Unfortunately, physical and emotional abuse and neglect of the elderly does happen, whether either by a caretaker of the individual, or the individual themselves. The point at which the elderly cannot take care of themselves is a point when the elderly need help. It is considered a form of negligence, self-neglect, when the elderly are unwilling to accept care (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 281).


DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.

3 Fun Facts About Mental Health Social Work

By Sam Engel

When most people think “social worker”, they think “therapist.” Obviously, we have learned otherwise throughout the duration of the course, however mental health plays a huge role in the social work profession. In fact, social workers are an integral mental health professional in the health care system. Here’s 3 fun facts about mental health in social work!!

  1. Pediatric mental health is often a priority for social workers. They often work with children, but what’s even more important is that about half of all mental health disorders appear by age 14, and almost 75% of mental health disorders by age 24 (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 153). The earlier a social worker can recognize a mental illness, the earlier they can help their client cope, live with, and potentially treat their disorder. Lack of preventative care is a huge issue in the health care system, and leads to a plethora of unnecessary funds!!
  2. Mental Illness is prevalent among the homeless. Correlation is not causation, and being homeless definitely does not cause a mental illness. However, 20-25% of the homeless have a major mental illness (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.154-155). Having a mental illness is understandably difficult to cope with, and could even make it difficult to function in society. This, coupled with difficult circumstances, can make an individual become homeless.
  3. There is a huge demand for mental health in social work. That’s because 46% of all Americans experience some form of mental illness throughout their lifetime (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 145). That’s roughly 151 million people in the United States!! That’s certainly going to need a lot of social workers!

3 Fun Facts about School Social Work

School social work is an aspect of elementary, middle, and high schools that are extremely under-appreciated aspect of society. School social workers provide a wide variety of services to their students, and they’re absolutely invaluable for the students. Here’s 3 facts about school social workers!!


  1. School social workers must use a wide variety of interventional strategies when dealing with their clients. School social workers have a diverse amount of clients, so they have to utilize a large amount of interventional strategies when treating their patients. This can range from individual therapy to referral to outside counseling, to a safe space to do homework in the afternoon. The possibilities are endless!! (Lecture 4/7/16)SchoolSocialWorkLogoBIG
  2. School social workers are mandated reporters. This means that they have to report any sign of abuse, both physical and sexual. They are required by law to do so, else they could be held liable. This preemptively protects any unwanted scenarios from occurring, and it can help prevent abuse at the student’s homes. (Lecture, 4/5/16)giphy (26).gif
  3. School social workers create safe environments for their students by advocating against bullying. School social workers provide an amazing outlet for students that feel they are being bullied, and they advocate for a school in which no bullying is present!! (Lecture, 4/5/16) giphy (27)


The Six Stages In The Stages of Change Model

By Sam Engel

  1. Precontemplation– Precontemplation is essentially when an individual is in denial of having a problem. They are completely unaware of their current situation, and they do not understand the impact of their drug addiction on their personal lives. giphy (19).gif
  2. Contemplation- Contemplation is when the individual recognizes that they have a problem, but they don’t think that their problem is impacting them negatively, so they actively deny it. The distinction between precontemplation and contemplation is very important, as it signals the beginning of the individual’s journey to recovery. giphy (20).gif
  3. Preparation– Preparation is when the individual decides to take action on their pre-recognized issue, and they attempt to figure out how to do so. At this point, they will begin to make minor changes to their lifestyle, but they are reluctant to make any major strides. giphy (21).gif
  4. Action- The individual decides to take major actions to absolve his problem. This includes reaching out for help, getting counseling, and potentially even going to rehab. giphy (22).gif
  5. Maintenance- The individual actively works to maintain their sobriety. This includes going to continual counseling, avoiding triggers that would cause them to relapse. The individual will constantly face challenges, but they will fight hard to continue their sobriety.
  6. Relapse- Unfortunately, the individual might relapse into their addiction, starting the sobriety process all over again. giphy (24).gif

Source: Lecture 3/15/16

4 Awesome Things About Military Social Work As Told By Ferris Beuller’s Day Off

By Sam Engel

Social work in the military is an essential yet under-appreciated branch in the social work world, and not very many people (including myself) know its vast scope of practice. Here’s 4 awesome things that I learned about military social work!!

  1.  Military social work isn’t just limited to working with soldiers. In fact, military social work encompasses working with not just soldiers, but also the families and children of soldiers, veterans, and civilians in the military (Lecture, 3/8/16)! This means that military social workers work with a wide range of demographics, from people of any race to people of any socio-economic status (Lecture, 3/8/16). giphy (14)
  2. The Department of Veteran Affairs is the largest employer of social workers in the United States (Lecture 3/8/16). Around 11,000 social workers work for the VA. That’s a lot of people!                    giphy (15)
  3. The vast majority of VA social work is about helping vets deal with their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Interview with Connie Studgeon, 3/10/16). This can prove to be extremely difficult. Vets often have to adjust to living with their PTSD, and it is often triggered by a wide variety of things, including smells, sounds, and even foods (Studgeon, 3/10/16). giphy (16)
  4. Military social work can be extremely rewarding, according to Connie Studgeon. In an in-class interview, Mrs. Studgeon said that even though it can be very frustrating at times, she loves working with veterans, and wouldn’t want to work in any other social work branch (Studgeon, 3/10/16). After all, she’s been doing it for over twenty years!! giphy (17)


That’s four new things that I learned about military social work. The field encompasses so much more than I originally anticipated, and I certainly enjoyed studying about it!! Thanks for reading, but as Ferris puts it best:                                                                                      giphy (18)


A Reflection on IPV

By Sam Engel

Disclaimer: This is not going to be a listicle. I want to convey just how much learning about this topic has impacted me on a personal level, and a listicle just wouldn’t do that justice for me.

Interpersonal Violence (IPV) is something that I knew that existed, but I never knew any statistics or facts about it, or what it really entails, and it’s something that I had never experienced. It’s a very tragic subject matter, and it’s something that society finds uncomfortable discussing.  However, the material that we discussed in lecture for the past week, along with reading Dragonslippers, has singlehandedly caused me to reflect on how I’m perceived by society.

Here’s some things I learned this week that struck me:

  • 1 in every 3 women will be abused at some point in their lifetime (Lecture, 2/9/16)
  • 85% of abuse victims are female (Lecture, 2/9/16)
  • 1 out of every 3 adolescent girls is a victim of abuse from a dating partner (Lecture, 2/9/16)

That alone made me ashamed. The fact that so many women are going to be abused is absolutely disgusting. This gives me a privilege that I don’t want, and for the rest of the week my mind could not stop thinking about how I can change that statistic. I’m ashamed of the men in the society that I grew up in, and I feel obligated to take some sort of action to prevent further incidents from occurring. However, on second thought, it will be quite difficult for me to advocate or make any sort of meaningful change because I am male, and I’m automatically forced into the same category as the majority of abusers. This will cause my actions to lose a certain level of legitimacy, and they won’t be as effective.

However, I think that the way I can make a difference in levels of IPV is by being an example for the men of society by confronting those that feel the need to abuse, and to give them the resources they need to stop.

To the women who might be reading this:

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you might be abused. I’m sorry that you might be broken again and again and again and again and again, only to pick up the pieces of your existence just because some guy thinks it’s ok to abuse you, to cope with (most likely) the abuse that he received when he was younger instead of getting help from a mental health professional. I’m sorry that you’ll be caught up in the vicious cycle of abuse, and that it’s going to take you more strength than you could have ever imagined to break the cycle. I’m sorry that there’s so many systemic barriers in your way to receiving help, and I’m sorry that there’s nothing you can do about that.

Learning about IPV was extremely humbling, and it made me feel uncomfortable and guilty. I suppose that is a good thing, because I now feel somewhat empowered to use my male privilege to educate society about IPV and to try and tear down the systemic barriers that are in place to keep women from reaching out for the help that they need.