What is social work?

Social workers can assist when a person’s health is impacted by complex social, psychological, family and environmental factors.

Many people think of social work in terms of child protection or assistance to people in low socio-economic areas, but in reality there is a lot more to social work than you may think. Social workers can help with:

Carer issues

Carers are people who help to care for others that may have an illness, disability or medical condition that can affect their function in society and around the home. Carers face a range of issues when caring for their loved ones or friends and these can include access to education, employment, income and emotional and social wellbeing. Social workers help to identify and link clients and their families with supports and services within their local community.

Grief and loss

Social work has the ability to address the physical, emotional, social and practical challenges that are associated with any stage or context of the grief process. Grief is a common, yet individual response to loss that occurs with many life changes or events. These can result in obvious or hidden manifestations and include but are not limited to; loss of life, relationships, mobility, health, dreams, aspirations, life roles and identity. Social workers identify grief and loss issues through client engagement and assessment. By working in collaboration with the client, their families and the health care team, appropriate and effective interventions, can be provided. The different experiences of grief can be supported with the provision of a space to share their stories. Strategies to cope with emotions that highlight and build on strengths include advocacy, education, linkage to services, and navigation through systems.

Adjusting to change

Coping with a new diagnosis, disability, chronic pain and illness is a complex and turbulent time for individuals and their families that often impact on the psychosocial, economic, environmental, and legal aspects of a person’s life. Social workers are able to assist clients work through these complexities by strengthening a client’s capacity, providing skills, education, coping strategies and support for ethical decision making. This in turn enables a social worker to provide meaningful, holistic care to a client and their family.

Social isolation

Social isolation can occur due to many different reasons including moving house, barriers due to cultural or linguistic differences, mental and physical health challenges, carer responsibilities, loss of mobility, and community access barriers. Using psychological interventions, social workers work with people experiencing social isolation to identify their needs, wants and interests. Social workers can assist clients deal with interpersonal issues by facilitating peer support groups, linking with a wide range of other community groups, activities and services that can assist in accessing social supports for example referrals to services for transportation and admission to outreach clinics.

Barriers to health and recovery

There are many factors that can have a negative impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. Many people experience both personal and societal barriers to their health and recovery. Such barriers include: family relationships, mental health and coping issues, challenges in regard to compliance with health regimes; stigma and discrimination lack of appropriate care or access to services. Social workers can address these barriers through individual counselling, problem solving and goal setting, working on coping skills, providing information and referrals to services which fit an individual’s needs, and advocating on behalf of clients to access resources and services.

Mental health

Social workers work in conjunction with general practitioners and non-government organisations alongside community and peer support workers. In specialist mental health settings social workers are generally members of multi-disciplinary teams (for example: child and adolescent, adult, health care of older people or other specialist mental health services). After a full mental health assessment has been completed, the social worker, as a case-manager, is primarily responsible for developing, implementing and documenting individual client treatment plans. Social Workers use a range of psychological interventions to work with clients with depression, anxiety, and personality disorders, suicidal thoughts, relationship problems, adjustment issues, trauma and family conflicts. This includes identifying impacts of mental illness on one’s routine life, working with individuals, families, groups and communities to empower consumers and family members, working cooperatively with psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses and therapists, conforming to regulations of professional practice.

Anxiety in children and adolescents can be expected and normal, however at times this may become severe and interfere with their everyday life.

The SUSO program has been designed specifically for teens with anxiety and helps them by teaching strategies to better manage their feelings, thoughts and behaviours in social settings.

Do you care for someone with a Chronic Disease or illness?

If so, we’d encourage you to come along to our group sessions during April and May.

The group sessions will run over 5 weeks and have a focus on those in caring roles. The group sessions will provide an opportunity for carers to gain mutual support, and there will be guest speakers, group discussions and information sessions to help people with:

  • caring for someone with a chronic illness
  • coping with carer stress
  • grief and loss and chronic illness
  • effective communication
  • self-care
  • gaining access to support services
  • taking a break


Group sessions are $10 per session ($50 for 5 sessions over 5 weeks)


Time – 1:30pm

Dates – the course runs over 5 weeks on:

Mon 24th April

Wed 3rd May

Mon 8th May

Mon 15th May

Mon 22nd May


The Carer Support Group will be conducted at the Griffith University Psychology Clinic (Griffith Health Centre, Gold Coast campus). Level 4, G40 Building, corner of Olsen Avenue and Parklands Drive, Southport 4222.

Find out more

Our friendly, highly-trained staff are available between 8am-4pm Monday to Friday. To find out more please call 1800 188 295 or email [email protected]