Social Work Leadership and Advocacy: The Moral Imperative

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

School of Social Work


Social work is only one of many venerable helping professions. Our colleagues in the professions of psychology, psychiatry, mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, and psychiatric nursing share social work's commitment to assisting people who have difficulty navigating and coping with life's challenges. But what is truly unique to social work is the profession's enduring commitment to developing leaders who promote social change and social justice. From day one, social workers are taught to understand and address the complex intersection between individuals' private troubles and the public issues that surround them. Social workers understand that a client's protracted clinical depression may be affected by draconian housing policies that have left him homeless. Social workers understand that a client's substance use may be a consequence of antiquated domestic violence laws that have exposed her to relentless risk. Social workers understand that a client's disabling anxiety symptoms may stem from her job loss resulting from a weak economy. In short, social workers understand that they must explore and address the structural and environmental challenges that cause trauma in people's lives.