Social Work: A Profession for the People

Social Work: A Profession for the People


If you lost your health insurance but your loved one required regular medical treatment, would you know where to turn for assistance? What if you lost your home? Where would you go for help?  If you found yourself caring for your elderly parents and your children, would you know how to access community resources? 

Social workers provide support and counseling for individuals and families to help them meet those life challenges and more. They assist with obtaining health care, housing, employment, mental health services and a range of other resources. Social workers with advanced clinical preparation provide psychotherapy.  However, most people don’t realize this help is available. 

March is National Social Work Month, and Ohio Dominican University (ODU) is putting a spotlight on social work and the assistance this profession provides to local, national and international communities. 

“Social workers are essential because we provide resources to support the well-being of individuals, families and the community,” said Dr. JoNataye Prather, an ODU assistant professor and social work field director. “We help people transition through tough challenges by providing the right resource for clients’ needs.Social workers exist ideally to serve individuals from all social walks of life.” 

The University’s Social Work programfocuses on five areas: human behavior and the social environment, social problems and policy, practice methods, research, and field work.   

“ODU’s Social Work program mission mirrors the historical roots of social work with its concern for bringing about social and economic justice with and on behalf of vulnerable groups of people,” explained Dr. Martha Armstrong, an ODU professor and director of the Social Work program. 

To prepare future social work professionals, ODU requires Social Work majors to complete a senior field placement in a social service agency under the supervision of an agency-based field instructor.  The University partners with organizations that offer such experiences, including The Salvation Army and Communities in Schools. 

Nothing can truly prepare a person for social work like internships,” said Lori Clayton, employment services coordinator for The Salvation Army of Central Ohio. “The student learns how to handle the unexpected with a professional demeanor. They learn how to use empathy and compassion, and how to partner with an individual in order to meet the individual’s needs.” 

Julie Holston, director of Program Management at Communities in Schools of Central Ohio, agreed. “As a social worker myself, I feel like I have a responsibility to the field to do my part in educating and guiding new social workers.” 

Anastasia Collier is an ODU senior from Cleveland and career developer intern with The Salvation Army. As a future social work professional, her goal is to advocate for those in need. “I want to give a voice to the voiceless, and to help people make realistic decisions to better themselves and in turn help society.” 

Matthew Smith, an ODU senior from Columbus and an intern for Communities in Schools, explained his internship helped him discover his strengths. “Professionally it has given me an expanding plethora of tools that can assist me in helping the clients I work with and those I will work with.” 

By helping the individual, social workers help a family. And by helping a family, they keep our communities strong. ODU’s Social Work program provides the coursework as well as the hands-on experience to ensure future social work professionals are equipped to support local, national and international communities. 

Click here to view a video highlighting ODU's Social Work program and several of its students.