forensic social work

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DegreeQuery has published several articles on the topic of forensic social work. We invite you to click on the links at the bottom of this piece for further research. Regarding the captioned question, this post will explore some of the jobs related to forensic social work (FSW). FSW is a specialty within social work that focuses on cases involving the legal system. This involvement could be the result of criminal activity, domestic violence, custody issues, substance abuse, incarceration, or any of a myriad of social problems.

There are careers in which you may use your degree in social work. It is essential to know that a bachelor’s or master’s degree in forensic social work is rare. One such program is available at the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. Forensic Social Work is one of nine specializations in their Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW).

In place of enrolling in a forensic social work program, per se, you can opt for a degree in social work with carefully selected classes. Classes that may be beneficial include American law, criminal justice, forensic psychology, clinical social work, counseling, the corrections system, and related subjects. You want to complement the social work education with a foundation of courses relevant to the judicial system. This study plan will open job opportunities in other fields. Some of the potential careers are as follows:

Correctional Treatment Specialist

We devoted more space to this position in another article (see below). Briefly, the job combines social work with criminal justice. The treatment specialist provides a service to inmates, parolees, and individuals on probation. The primary role is to assist a person with reentering society.  You may need to arrange treatment, find housing or employment, and counsel the released person on the struggles he/she will face in the community.

A degree in criminal justice, psychology, social work, or human services is applicable to work in correctional treatment.

Probation Officer

Most probation officers work for the state or federal government. Although a degree in criminal justice is common to work in this field, degrees in sociology, psychology, and social work are also applicable.

These officers work with assigned clients to provide a detailed report for the courts. The report is the result of interviews with the client, family members, friends, and employers to gather background information on the client. The material collected helps the court with the probation sentence.

Mental Health Social Worker

Clients dealing with mental health problems may require the services of a social worker. Consequently, behavior associated with mental health issues may cause the client to enter the judicial system.

Mental health social workers spend much of their time supporting clients who have behavioral problems such as bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety. Treatment options include psychosocial therapy, family therapy, and education group therapy, or a combination of these treatments. To qualify for this career, a master’s degree in social work with a mental health concentration is advantageous.

Substance Abuse Counselor

The titled profession is related to social work, as it demands a strong foundation in counseling therapeutic methods to help clients overcome their addiction. As with other lines of social work, a keen sense of altruism and communication skills go a long way to empathize with drug and alcohol abusers.

A career in this line of work is related to forensic social work due to the correlation between drug abuse and crime. Statistics report that 40% of all crimes have an association with alcohol or drug abuse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, 26.2 % of aggravated assaults occur while the offender is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Eighteen percent of inmates report that they committed a crime to obtain money for illicit drugs!

Consequently, the perpetrators become introduced to the criminal justice system. Their illegal actions may require the services of a forensic social worker, substance abuse counselor, or mental health counselor/social worker.

Child, Family, and School Counselor

In this career, you are a counselor, social worker, psychologist, and therapist. You may work in hospitals, health organizations, community service offices, government agencies, and private practice. In these settings, you may encounter the stresses of family life that include violence, abuse, addiction, and learning disabilities. Therefore, a gambit of emotional and behavioral problems may surface.

You may want to tailor your training and education to child counseling or social work. The latter includes counseling students who have mental, emotional, or physical impairments that disrupt learning capabilities. The psychological issues could stem from a family environment that is an indication of child-rearing problems or neglect.

Again, many factors within the family dynamics could necessitate the interaction of the courts. A judge or court-appointed official, for example, may rule that a child be removed from a family and placed in adoptive or foster care. This unfortunate situation brings the counselor’s legal education and skills into play.

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