Social Worker Identity: A Profession in Context

Brad Forenza, Caitlin Eckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Social work is a broad field encompassing micro, mezzo, and macro areas of practice. Consequently, the field lacks a unifying professional identity due to the expansiveness of the profession. Professional identity is conceptualized as an extension of social identity, vis-à-vis the embodiment of three qualities: connectedness, expansiveness, and effectiveness. This study used 12 in-depth, individual interviews with practicing social workers to explore these qualities. Findings from interviews reveal six primary themes and 21 subthemes pertaining to social worker identity. Themes and subthemes are organized according to three broad families (social work in context, professional trajectories, and external influences). Implications for policy, practice, and future research are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Work (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Advocacy
  • Empathy
  • Empowerment
  • Professional identity
  • Social justice


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