Introduction (20)

Competencies Practiced by Generalists Social Workers

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Social work is a profession that promotes social change, liberation, and empowerment of people and solving problems in human relationships to enhance well-being. It utilizes social systems theories and human behavior to intervene in people’s interactions with their environments. Principles of social justice and human rights are at the core of social work. The generalist approach to social work offers a multileveled and integrated approach to meeting the social work purpose. Generalist social workers work with client at all levels and connects them to available resources and ensures responsiveness of resource systems. This essay discusses a variety of social work competencies employed by the generalist social worker when working with clients.

Engaging in Practice-Informed Research and Research-Informed Practice

First generalist social workers are expected to conduct research-informed research and practice when dealing with clients. Social workers should understand the role of qualitative and quantitative research methods in evaluating the practice and advancing social work as a science. It is essential for social workers to understand the principles of systematic inquiry, logic, ethical approaches and culturally informed in building knowledge. Social workers know that their practice is derived from multiple ways of knowing and disciplinary sources hence the need to familiarize themselves with processes used to translate research findings.

Engaging in Policy Practice

Another competency employed by generalists’ social worker is the ability to engage in policy practice. This is because social justice, social welfare services are affected by policy implementation at the local, federal, and state levels. Social workers need to take note of the current structures and history of social services and policies and the role that practice plays in policy development as well as the hand of policy in the delivery of services. Additionally, social workers know that they have a role to play in the development and implementation of policies in settings at the mezzo, macro, and micro levels. Moreover, they are knowledgeable in policy analysis, formulation, implementation, and evaluation.

Advancing Human Rights and Economic, Social and Environmental Justice.

Another competency has to do with the advancement of human rights and economic, environmental and social justice. Social workers recognize that all members of society have fundamental rights including safety, privacy, freedom, healthcare, education, and adequate standards of living regardless of their position in society (Suppes & Wells, 2012). Moreover, they remain cognizant of the global interconnections of human rights violation and oppression and are aware of human needs theories as well as viable strategies for promoting economic justice, human rights and social justice. Social workers are familiar with strategies employed to do away with oppressive structural barriers and ensuring social rights, responsibilities and goods are equitably distributed.

Demonstrate Professional and Ethical Behavior

Furthermore, competent social workers demonstrate professional and ethical behavior while engaging with clients. This is vital as it forms the foundation for the social work profession and relevant laws that can impact the practice at the mezzo, macro, and micro levels. They take note of the frameworks of critical thinking and ethical decision making application to frameworks in policy arenas, practice and research. Additionally, social workers know the distinction between personal and professional values. They also recognize the emergence of new technology and its the ethical employment in social practice. Social workers are acquainted with the need for continuous learning and remain committed to improving their skills regularly to ensure they remain effective and relevant.


While social work is all about social change problem solving and empowering people, the generalist approach to social work offers a multileveled and integrated approach to meeting the purpose of social work. Some of the competencies applied by workers have to do with demonstrating ethical behavior, engaging in policy practice, and engaging in the research-informed practice. Further, social workers recognize that all members of the society have fundamental rights including safety, privacy, freedom, healthcare, education, and adequate standards of living regardless of their position in society.


Suppes, M. A., & Wells, C. C. (2012). The social work experience: An introduction to social work and social welfare. Pearson Higher Ed.

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