The Professional Role of Social Workers

Social workers can work with refugees and asylum seekers in countries in the Global North, as well as in countries from which people are fleeing and their neighboring countries. The issues will vary depending upon where one engages them. In countries of refuge in the Global North, the immediate fears of danger have ebbed and cultural difficulties will dominate, as well as dealing with the physical and psychological aftermath.

The ability of social workers to work on the macro level to develop effective policy or coordinate culturally appropriate services combines well with our abilities on the mezzo and micro levels to work with people who have experienced trauma to help them resolve it. Social workers can work with many different types of organizations in this field. The United Nations, international NGOs such as Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, and advocacy organizations and local service providers are all potential employers. Due to our broad training, social workers are able to work directly with victims of war and conflict, advocate for better policies affecting this population, and conduct research on issues of concern; these are only a few options. As with most areas of international social work, starting as an intern or volunteer is an excellent way to get experience in this competitive area. Another strong skill is the ability to speak a language other than English.

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