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History of Social Work as a Profession

Discuss about the International Social Work and Profound Elaboration.

The aim of this present discourse is to establish a profound elaboration and review of the life of a senior social worker who has devoted his/her life for the betterment of the society. Prior to consider the life and contribution made by the considered social worker, it is significant to contemplate that, not only in Belgium but also in the whole world, the practice and concept of social work has been growing with a modern as well as a scientific origin. Broadly, there are three strands encompassing the profession of social work, which are individual casework, social administration and social action. In the words of Bartiaux et al. (2016), the third and the latest strand of social work is probably the most significant as it emphasizes upon the contribution of political action that starts to work through the contemporary community life for alleviating poverty and misery. In this respect, it is to say that the notion of taking social work as a profession emerged in the 19th century in the entire European society. According to Boffin et al. (2016), it is believed that the trend of professional social work had been determined by the economic as well as social disturbance of manipulation, brought by the industrial revolution.

Prior to illustrate and demonstrate my sense of identity as a professional social worker, it is significant to mention that I as an eager one to become a social worker began my carrier by information about the social history in Belgium. My collected information is indicative of the fact that the sense of working for the social welfare in Europe started from the middle age through the hands of Catholic fundamental doctrines. In this context, it can be said that the New Testament and other Biblical documents of the Churches, which imply that the notion of social working has come from the Jesus Christ’s love for the weak individuals in the society (Corey 2015). Jesus had always shown love for those who are sick, excluded or vulnerable in the society. In the words of Geens and Vandenbroeck (2014), the Church followed the same footsteps of Jesus by providing food for the poverty-stricken area of the society. However, the fundamental concept of social work reemerged potentially in the time of world war when homicide and repeated bombardment took life of millions of people and made the rest poor, helpless and shelter less.

Inspiration and Influences

In my country home Belgium, I believe the notion of working for the social welfare and the trend of taking social work as an occupation has fostered by the installation of Center Public Social Help (CPAS) in the year 1976 (Hall et al. 2016). Further, it has been gathered that the installation of CPAS has proved fruitful by the inauguration and success of CAPE (Committee of Assistance Public). Both of the committees and their movements have motivated hundreds of young mind like mine for dreaming the ambition of serving for the common good. In this context, one name I should mention whose contribution and work has inspired and influenced my desire to become a social worker is René Sand (Healy 2014). I should contemplate that one of the most significant aspects about René Sand is that along with his medals those he won for commemorating services in the world war, he achieved the place of a grand office in both Order of Leopold and Crown in the state of Belgium. Nevertheless, most importantly his contribution through his foundation of International Conference of Social Work coupled with the Schools of Social work of the International committee, are two potential premises those have influenced my mind mostly. However, I feel unfortunate to denote that his achievement as an honorary social worker is shadowed by his accomplishment as the president of the Schools of Social work. Nevertheless, I should state that his vision and mission have given direction to so many young hearts like me.  

My vision to work for the betterment of the children and my ability to promote their well-being has been shaped by my learning about the value of social work in the society. I have learnt that the purpose of serving for the helpless people or the children is an anti-discriminatory as well as anti-oppressive practice. More precisely, according to my experience, the wish to do social work is fueled by an inbuilt social practice that individual possesses. As a senior social worker, I have always believed and maintained that human individuals should not be diagnosed or treated according to their financial status, religion, color or race. I believe one of the core values of social work, which is human rights, indicates that every human being is entitled to have respect for their inherent worth as well as dignity. Therefore, being a social worker I have understood that when a person seeks help from others, social workers should jump right into the place to help that individual without being respective towards his/her social, financial, cultural or racial status. For evidence, I can state an incident from the initial years of my practice where I successfully demonstrated my knowledge as a social worker. I have been an intern in this field and have been learning the core values of social work thoroughly, when I came to realize that in my locality a childcare nursing home neglects suffering children whose parents are not able to pay money on time. The information about such practice pushed my humanity to take a strong action against the authority of that hospital.

Values of Professional Social Work

It has been the love of my family and friends and their faith on me, which has supported me to take initiative to reveal the true condition of the hospital to our local administrative and legal authorities. It has been their help with which I became part of a well-known child-welfare organization where both physical and mental treatment are provided. In this context, I should denote that my experience as a social worker has taught me that the key fundamental professional value as a social worker is to promote social justice. I believe my act to inform about the misdeed running in that Nursing home to the responsible authority has been indeed a work of social justice.

In this context, it should be contemplated that for a professional social worker, ethical awareness is one of the fundamental aspects of professional practice of social work. The professional social workers because of the fact that this value is related with the quality of the service offer it. In the words of Jennings (2013), the ability and commitment of the professional social workers to respect and maintain human dignity and promoting the social justice determines the quality of the social workers. However, my perception about this consideration is that professional social workers like me should learn to stay concerned with their own values and potentiality to control an inappropriate circumstance in time of their practice. Most significant contribution that my learning and practice have taught me is a distinct set of values those I should abide as a professional social worker through-out my life. The values are – the strong commitment to give primary importance to every individual in the society, commitment to every social change to address and achieve socially identified needs and an honest commitment to maintain both mental and physical wellbeing of the community (Mapp 2014).

In this respect, I can state a piece of evidence from my work practice as a professional social worker. Prior to elaborate the evidence, it should be denoted here that in Belgium it is mandatory for the social worker to abide the social framework designed and coined by the CPAS (McNeill 2016). The framework of CPAS implicates that professional social workers would provide the psychosocial assessment of the clients and their families in time of need through home visitations and should provide counseling to both the patients and their individual families for clarifying various options as well as strengthening the process for decision-making (Milner et al. 2015). In case of giving care to the child or the old and vulnerable in the society, according to the framework set by CPAS, professional social care agencies and practitioners should facilitate all those training sessions and mutual support to the parents, which would enable them in providing effective care to the children (Munson and Saulnier 2014). Therefore, my perception says that professional social workers in time of promoting the welfare of the children play the role of counseling experts. My experience in this field which is more than nine years now, have collected numerous episodes and anecdotes, where I come across little children along with old and vulnerable individuals and their helpless families.

Ethical Considerations in Practice

From those recollections, I can illustrate one case scenario where I found chance for sharpening my ability to think critically as well as find the existing ethical issues in our society. About seven years ago, in times of doing my internship in a childcare consultancy charity, I came across an extraordinary case, which involves harassment of a child and his family in a local school. As per the case history, the child had been suffering in his school for racial discrimination as his family belonged to one of the minor community of the society. One particular thing that caught my eye has been the continuous neglect that the particular child was being provided by his family. I came to know in time of counseling the young one, that whenever he tried to inform the acts of bullying and physical harassment in his school to his parents, they simply ignored them. Initially, as a human individual, it gave me pain and I was astonished to notice that living in the era of twenty first century, academic institutions are behaving in such an unethical manner. It has been probably my first counseling practice, which came successful for both the child and his parents.

With the help of my seniors and my teachers, I decided to counsel the parents afterwards and I came to know that the child’s parents have become habituated with bully and other kinds of act of discrimination. Moreover, I came to understand that the family itself has been a victim of social discrimination for belonging to a minor community along with having a relatively disappointing financial status. However, I chose to counsel the parents and help them learning the basic principles of care giving, which is to pay utmost attention to the young and vulnerable one. Until now, I visit that family twice in a year and it is fortunate that the family learnt to act against bullying and unethical treatment.

On the other hand, it should be contemplated in this context that to become a satisfying professional social worker, it is essential to stay well learnt about numerous theories and concepts of social work (Netting et al. 2016). At the initial stage of my educational journey to become an appropriate social worker, I came acquainted with three key theoretical concepts - system theory, social learning theory and psychosocial development theory. The system theory taught that the fundamental human behavior is part of a complex system (O'Connor 2015). Moreover, the theory underpins that in time of crisis, members of family or organization directly involves them, even if the crisis is an individual’s problem. However, I believe my professional attitude as a social worker has been shaped by leaning the theoretical concept of social learning theory, which says that learning in a social environment is more dependent on observation as well as imitation. It means, a person’s behavioral attributes are the result of what that individual observes around him (Patton and McMahon 2014). This particular concept has supported me to understand several situations and behavioral disorders while working with small children.

Examples from Professional Social Work Practice in Belgium

Nevertheless, over years of education I have come to understand that a person’s mental development is determined by eight stages. The understanding is shaped by learning the theoretical underpinning of Psychosocial development theory that says life-cycle of every human individual depends on eight distinct stages – hope, purpose, fidelity, love, strong wisdom, will, and care and competence (Payne 2015). Therefore, it has been understood that from infancy to adulthood to old age, these eight aspects encompass as well as develop the life cycle. Interestingly, for a professional social worker, all these eights aspects are found to be significant. It is because without strong will and wisdom to serve for the common good, and hope, love and care and fidelity, a person cannot become a proper caregiver (Roose et al. 2014).

However, in this context, the recent developments in the dimension of social work should be illustrated. It has been learnt over years that the field of social work irrespective of any country has been transformed and at the same time developed by growing need of evidence-based practice, substance abuse parity, increasing rate of school abuse, social work with elderly people, the mental health of children, economic recession and globalization. In the words of (Sue et al. (2015), along with globalization, economic recession and the need of evidence-based practice, the dimension of social work has been developed with the influence of social media. For professional social workers like me, the aspect of Globalization has supported to become aware of the effect of social, political, cultural and economic circumstances. In time of working with a victim, it is significant for us to understand whether the vulnerable individual has been affected by any global trends or not. I have come to realize from my practice and early years of learning that the emergence of social media and networking sites have made it easier for us to extend our hands for helping the vulnerable.

For example, two years ago the premise where I work presently, has started an online campaign to help the abused children of Belgium. It is unfortunate to note that in Belgium, each year several child refugees in Belgium are abused physically due to lack of adequate support from the Belgian integration policy (Sarangi and Slembrouck 2014). On the other hand, I have come to know that nearly one-third of the child-abuse cases in the country are related with sexual abuses. Considering these fundamental human right dispute, my organization started to extend our hand for the harassed child refugees of the country. I came to acquaintance with a few cases of harassment, where I found that numerous children have been physically harassed by the negligence of their caregivers. It shocked me as well as aware me about the fact that social caregivers are lacking their responsibilities at the very basic ground, which is appropriate supervision.

In this respect, I should contemplate that professional supervision in social work helps in improving the mode of practice. According to Sarangi and Slembrouck (2014), professional supervision in the social work assists an individual professional social worker in establishing strong bond with the survivors. Most significantly, professional supervision is essential for identifying act of violence and issues faced by the suffering individuals. It has been realized that cases of physical abuses is common with those children who are mentally challenged (Withaeckx et al. 2016). At the initial period of my training, I began to learn that a person’s vulnerability in front of others is determined by their mental capacity. Childhood sufferings, physical abuse or passive aggressions for a long time are some of the contents, which disturb the normal mental balance of a person. Specifically, among the younger ones who are unable to express certain mental problems mostly suffers through physical abuse, bully and mental torture (Van Bogaert et al. 2014). However, it is to regard in this context that over last ten years, Belgium has incorporated and developed several social policies (Williams and Graham 2014). It has been found that one of the predominant reasons for tightening the immigration policies is the increasing number of migrants. I have come to understand that my country has a relatively contradictory attitude towards immigration and diversity. At the same side, Belgium has a lenient policy for the economic migrants.

I have acquired the knowledge that   constant development in the center for equal opportunities has made it easy for the migrants and their children to integrate easily and appropriately in the economic sphere of Belgium. I believe this is the reason, which has promoted the cross-cultural practices in the dimension of social work. Twelve years ago when I started as an entry-level social practitioner, I came to understand that to provide proper care to the suffering and vulnerable individuals, it is necessary to make emotional bond with them. In order to become emotionally attached, a person needs to understand the other’s socio-cultural belonging, which helps to accomplish the cross-cultural practice in social work. In this context, I should denote one case, which I have encountered in the initial years of my practice. Nearly seven years ago, I worked with one of my senior practitioners who enlightened me that cultural context related to person is necessary to know prior to be acquainted. Through thorough observation, I learnt that social exclusion and vulnerability of a person is related with cultural issues. I have come across a ten years old victim who endured bully and physically injured through the hands of her family for being a girl child. At that time, when we rescued her, she almost had broken her left arm and had been utterly shocked to say a word. I started to provide care to the girl by mingling with her in a friendly nature. It has been my peer, who taught me to address the issue of the girl by identifying her cultural upbringing and her family cultures. After following this instruction, I made some background research and came to know that cultural backwardness and superstition had been the major cause, which manipulated her parents to make physical injure upon her.

However, it can be concluded that my experience and my practice for over ten years has enlightened me about the fact that an individual’s vulnerability and social exclusion are determined by cultural, social, economic and political situations. Therefore, accomplishment of a social worker can be counted when the worker would be able to provide care against individual social sufferings.


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Boffin, N., Antoine, J., Moreels, S., Wanyama, S., De Ridder, K., Peremans, L., Vanmeerbeek, M. and Van Casteren, V., 2016. General practice patients treated for substance use problems: a cross-national observational study in Belgium. BMC public health, 16(1), p.1235.

Corey, G., 2015. Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Nelson Education.

Geens, N. and Vandenbroeck, M., 2014. The (ab) sense of a concept of social support in parenting research: a social work perspective. Child & Family Social Work, 19(4), pp.491-500.

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Healy, K., 2014. Social work theories in context: Creating frameworks for practice. Palgrave Macmillan.

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Mapp, S.C., 2014. Human rights and social justice in a global perspective: An introduction to international social work. Oxford University Press, USA.

McNeill, F., 2016. Probation. Palgrave Macmillan.

Milner, J., Myers, S. and O'Byrne, P., 2015. Assessment in social work. Palgrave Macmillan.

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Netting, F.E., Kettner, P.M., McMurtry, S.L. and Thomas, M.L., 2016. Social work macro practice. Pearson.

O'Connor, M.K., 2015. Social work constructivist research (Vol. 1134). Routledge.

Patton, W. and McMahon, M., 2014. Career development and systems theory: Connecting theory and practice (Vol. 2). Springer.

Payne, M., 2015. Modern social work theory. Oxford University Press.

Roose, R., Roets, G. and Schiettecat, T., 2014. Implementing a strengths perspective in child welfare and protection: A challenge not to be taken lightly. European Journal of Social Work, 17(1), pp.3-17.

Sarangi, S. and Slembrouck, S., 2014. Language, bureaucracy and social control. Routledge.

Sue, D.W., Rasheed, M.N. and Rasheed, J.M., 2015. Multicultural Social Work Practice: A Competency-Based Approach to Diversity and Social Justice. John Wiley & Sons.

Van Bogaert, P., van Heusden, D., Timmermans, O. and Franck, E., 2014. Nurse work engagement impacts job outcome and nurse-assessed quality of care: model testing with nurse practice environment and nurse work characteristics as predictors. Frontiers in psychology, 5, p.1261.

Williams, C. and Graham, M., 2014. ‘A world on the move’: Migration, mobilities and social work.

Withaeckx, S., Schrooten, M. and Geldof, D., 2016. Thinking and acting globally and locally? Emerging transnational social work practices in Belgium.

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