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WOW! Did You Know??


By Maria Panitsidis, LCSW


What Exactly Is A Social Worker? And What Do They Do?

Since the inception of the Social Work profession, social workers have worked in various capacities and are trained to work with individuals as a whole, meeting them where they are, rather than focusing on one specific thing (i.e., mental health). Social workers perform their roles and responsibilities within three inter-related levels of practice: micro, mezzo, and macro. These systems of practice use different methodologies to provide services to diverse populations, but they all operate within the Person-in-Environment (PIE) Theory.


But what does all this mean??


Micro-level social workers focus on individualized care by a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). These social workers provide direct services, observations, supports to individuals, families, and groups. Micro level is most often associated with traditional clinical social work. Micro social workers are credited as "first responders to the immediate emotional and social needs of clients."


Mezzo-level social workers may offer direct individual services, but their primary focus centers on problem-solving on behalf of groups of clients, or “client systems”, implementing programs and advocating for services and resources. Mezzo social workers are credited with organizing community action, such as developing community watch groups or bringing together parents who suddenly must homeschool their children due to COVID-19.


Macro-level social workers address the challenge of alleviating societal problems to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. Macro social workers are in charge of creating the system and not just managing it. While micro social work focuses on individuals and mezzo approaches emphasize small groups and organizations, macro social work confronts issues at the systems-level. Macro social workers do not provide individual counseling or direct client services.


Today you will find many social workers in various roles, some may even be surprising to you. You can find us working in:

¶ Chemical dependency treatment programs

¶ Mental Health facilities

¶ Hospital Systems

¶ Elder Care and Advocacy

¶ Child Advocacy and Care

¶ Hospice

¶ Universities/Colleges

¶ Federal Government agencies

¶ Human rights organizations

¶ Nonprofits

¶ Community organizing

¶ Program development

¶ Law enforcement

¶ Policymaking

¶ Healthcare

¶ Politics

¶ Criminal Justice systems

¶ There are also some famous actors and politicians who are social workers!