What is a social worker and what do they do?

Social workers are professionals who are trained in an ecological-systems and biopsychosocial model of care. Some social workers are licensed master social workers (LMSWs) and some are licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) who have received additional clinical post-graduate training to provide behavioral health diagnosis and treatment services. Social workers help individuals, groups and communities enhance their capacity to thrive in their environments in a variety of ways. They often help individuals and families overcome life’s most difficult challenges such as poverty, discrimination, abuse, addiction, physical illness, divorce, loss, unemployment, educational problems, disability, and mental health concerns. A social worker’s role will vary depending on their agency of employment, but may include:

  • Advocacy
  • Case management and care coordination
  • Education of individuals, groups, and community professionals
  • Empowerment of patients and clients
  • Non-medical diagnosis
  • Individual, family, group therapy services
  • Provision of community resources

What is the role of social work in DBP?

The number of social workers embedded in developmental clinics across the country is growing.  DBP social workers practice in interdisciplinary teams of developmental-behavioral pediatricians, psychologists, neurologists, nurse practitioners, and other disciplines and they support patients and families in a variety of ways.  DBP social workers may provide psychotherapy, care coordination and psychoeducation, and in academic centers, they may also participate in training residents, fellows and trainees from other disciplines.

Benefits of participating in SDBP

No matter what setting a social worker is employed in, they are going to work at some point with children and families or adults with developmental and behavioral diagnoses. SDBP offers social workers the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills related to the developmental-behavioral field, and to share in a commitment to clinical practice, research, education, and advocacy through collaboration with other developmental specialists across the country.

For more information about social work in SDBP or to connect with other DBP social workers, contact Jennifer Cervantes (jennifer.cervantes@bcm.edu) or Dinah Godwin (dlgodwin@bcm.edu).