An independent social worker runs a private social work practice. While it was previously unheard of for a licensed clinical social worker to pursue an independent career path, such social workers are now quite common. These independent social practitioners are governed by a regulatory body and are expected to maintain continued professional development. Their services are regularly commissioned by private, public and governmental agencies.
The availability of an independent social worker can be a boon to governmental agencies with stretched resources and limited budgets. They can get a flexible, experienced service provider at a lower rate than would have been possible with a full-time employee, and it can also enable their staff workers to pursue other essential tasks. On the private front, people may find that an independent social worker may have more time on hand to address their individual concerns.
At the onset, an independent social worker will meet with clients and discuss the clients' particular situations. On the basis of this discussion, the social worker will makes an assessment of their requirements, and will recommend the social services appropriate to their needs. The social worker will liaise with specific service providers and health specialists on behalf of their clients.
Working with individuals, families and communities, social workers assist people in coping with their various life situations. These situations may include dealing with dysfunctional family conflicts and relationship problems, facing up to crippling or life threatening health conditions, battling mental problems and substance abuse, surviving sexual abuse, and coping with unemployment and homelessness. Social workers help with child adoption and fostering, and help to care for the elderly. They work with young people to resolve issues related to academics, truancy, teenage pregnancy and so on. A social worker can make plenty of positive difference in people's lives, but a social worker job can be a very stressful and is best suited to strong-minded, motivated individuals.
To get started in a social worker career, it is necessary to have a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, or a more advanced qualification in social work, sociology, psychology, education or any other related discipline. In addition to a graduate degree, social workers need to obtain a professional license or certification in order to be able to practice. A qualified independent social worker can find a range of social worker job positions in both rural and urban areas. Social worker salaries depend on experience, location and type of social work.