5 Key Terms Every Social Work Administrator Should Know

Once you earn your degree, be familiar with 5 key terms every social work administrator should know. These terms pertain to management responsibilities but are critical to the social work field. Not only will you be responsible for the well-being of those requiring guidance but also for those providing it.

The University of Montana’s Dictionary of Social Work defines these 5 terms for social work administrators. Your key role and primary responsibility will be keeping a team of social workers motivated, focused and effective. Comprehending and incorporating these terms will help you meet that responsibility.

Indirect Practice

As an administrator, you will not have direct contact with clients although what you do will effect them. Your duties will include research, policy implementation, program development and supervision of those who provide direct service. You must ensure social workers in your practice are providing the best possible guidance, that records are securely maintained and that you are aware of available resources and policies. Although you will not have a hands-on role, you will bring the resources, the personnel and the clients together aiming for optimal outcome.


The social work dictionary defines an objective as “a measurable activity or task that is set” to help attain a larger goal. As an administrator, you will have objectives for every facet of your realm of responsibility. You may have an objective to improve client confidentiality in common areas of your office space. Improving relationships with local homeless shelters may be an objective for locating hard-to-reach clients. Because you should strive to improve the quality of service your practice offers and the competencies of your social workers, regularly setting distinct objectives will be imperative.


Competency is undoubtedly the most important of the 5 key terms a social work administrator should know. The National Network of Social Work Managers, a professional organization, has established standards and certifications to ensure competency in those who supervise social workers and develop community resources. An article by L. K. Jones in Social Work Today lists several areas that social work administrators must excel in. Among them are ethics, governance, program development and public policy. Not only should you diligently seek new levels of competency but also you should offer training and guidance to increase it in your staff.

Interviewing and Counseling Techniques

This term is important because of your responsibility to ensure that the social workers under your guidance are providing the best possible service to the clients. According to the social work dictionary, interviewing and counseling techniques should include a range of approaches that help individuals, families and groups understand themselves and others better, function better in society and make changes to improve their lives. It will be your duty to discover innovations and advancements in these techniques then introduce them to your social workers. Follow up to analyze outcomes.

Task-Centered Model

Finally, the fifth key term every social work administrator should know is task-centered practice. This term denotes another factor in the assurance that the social workers are providing the best possible service to the clients. A task-centered model of practice requires the social worker and client work as a team to develop a list of tasks that systematically addresses the client’s problems and, once completed, will have enhanced the client’s level of function. This method provides a blueprint and sets goals with objectives so progress may be measured and documented. You should explore task-centered models you can use as templates for your social workers to build on with their clients.

Your clients, your staff and your community will rely on you to organize, develop and improve the social work environment. As you embark on your career, be mindful of these 5 key terms every social work administrator should know.

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