Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

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About the Job

Assess and treat individuals with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs. Activities may include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, case management, client advocacy, prevention, and education.

It is also Called

  • Therapist
  • Substance Abuse Services Director
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Substance Abuse Clinician
  • Social Worker
  • Residential Case Manager
  • Psychotherapist Social Worker
  • Psychotherapist
  • Psychiatric Social Worker
  • Probation Officer
View All

What They Do

  • Develop or advise on social policy or assist in community development.
  • Supervise or direct other workers who provide services to clients or patients.
  • Plan or conduct programs to prevent substance abuse, combat social problems, or improve health or counseling services in community.
  • Increase social work knowledge by reviewing current literature, conducting social research, or attending seminars, training workshops, or classes.
  • Assist clients in adhering to treatment plans, such as setting up appointments, arranging for transportation to appointments, or providing support.
  • Educate clients or community members about mental or physical illness, abuse, medication, or available community resources.
  • Modify treatment plans according to changes in client status.
  • Refer patient, client, or family to community resources for housing or treatment to assist in recovery from mental or physical illness, following through to ensure service efficacy.
  • Counsel or aid family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, or supporting the client or patient.
  • Collaborate with counselors, physicians, or nurses to plan or coordinate treatment, drawing on social work experience and patient needs.

Interests

People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: SIA.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Social interests, but also prefer Investigative and Artistic environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Achievement, but also value Relationships and Independence in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Education Required

Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).

Wages

In 2017, the average annual wage in Pennsylvania was $36,800 with most people making between $24,810 and $52,310

Outlook

1.61%
avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 10,660 people in Pennsylvania. It is projected that there will be 12,380 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 172 openings due to growth and about 258 replacement openings for approximately 430 total annual openings.



Pennsylvania Department of Education