Community service workers have an important role in the lives of those they work with. They provide support at many different levels to communities of disadvantaged individuals and groups, dealing with a range of problems, from poverty to addiction to physical disabilities to mental health issues. Community service workers aim to implement solutions for either individuals or communities based on their work, and though challenging, the job of a community service worker can be extremely rewarding.
If you’re thinking of becoming a community service worker (CSW), your specific responsibilities may vary depending on your specialization or the form of agency or organization that you work for, but there are a few soft skills that all community service workers benefit from having. Here are 5 soft skills that a good community service worker possesses.
1. Those with Community Services Worker Training Should Have Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills
Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are central to the work of a community services worker. Community service workers deal primarily with the problems of people and communities. They must be able to listen to the problem that an individual or a group of people is facing, whether it be addiction, trauma, homelessness, or another significant issue. Rather than simply empathizing and listening, those in community services worker careers have to help individuals or communities to implement realistic and helpful solutions so that their situations may improve or, at least, not worsen. Coming up with solutions takes critical thinking capabilities, as CSWs must apply clinical theory to their understanding of a situation, while accounting for a situation’s unique context in order to determine the proper course of action to take. The ability to utilize critical thinking and problem-solving techniques on the job is a challenging skill to learn, but it’s an important one for CSWs to work on.
2. Emotional Intelligence is Useful
Being equipped with emotional intelligence skills enables a CSW to apply critical thinking and problem- solving techniques more effectively. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to understand and contextualize the emotions an individual is expressing. An emotionally intelligent CSW will be able to more effectively discern what kind of issues an individual is facing, what their needs are, and how to help them.
3. Leadership Skills Are Essential
CSWs are typically engaging with communities, discovering and working to implement solutions that will improve their situations. Implementing solutions for individuals and communities alike requires starting initiatives and effectively obtaining the services and resources that may serve to affect real change. The ability to take meaningful action in the role of a CSW requires good leadership, as solutions often require coordination between and mobilization of many different resources.
4. Communication and Active Listening Skills Are Critical
Communication and listening skills are at the heart of what CSWs do. If you’re completing your community services worker training, it’s important to focus on building your communication skills, as much of your role as a CSW will involve communicating with individuals and groups about the problems they are facing, and how to go about solving them. CSWs must be able to engage with their clients through active listening, which is essential in establishing trust and respect in the relationship. Additionally, CSWs must be able to clearly communicate to their clients what they need to do and how they’re going to help them in order to provide a proper level of care.
5. CSWs Must Also Know How to Set Boundaries
Based on the previous four soft skills, the job of a CSW probably sounds quite challenging. CSWs do certainly have to handle some level of stress, as they spend much of their time listening to and handling extremely difficult and traumatic situations. With this in mind, successful CSWs are able to set boundaries to help them separate their work from other aspects of their life. Social work is all about working hard to help others, but CSWs must also be able to prioritize their mental health and set boundaries between their work and their home life.
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