Five Important Qualities for a Social Worker to Possess

5 Qualities Social Workers Should Possess

  • Patience
  • The Ability To Set Boundaries
  • Perception
  • Persuasion
  • Empathy

Prospective students are advised to know what social worker qualities they should possess to be successful in the profession. It takes a very special person to be a good social worker. Here are the qualities students studying social work should strive to cultivate in themselves.


Some clients will not want to open up to their social worker at all. For this reason, one of the most important social worker qualities is extreme amounts of patience when it comes to working with their clients. It may take a long time to convince a client of what they need to do to improve their situation. It may take a long time for a client to be in a position of caring for themselves. Social work cases can also be incredibly complex and involve people of differing, perhaps even contradictory, goals. Untying that knot requires patience to get it right and resolve the problem.

The Ability To Set Boundaries

The work of a social worker can be emotionally taxing. To be a good social worker, you must be able to avoid getting too emotionally absorbed in your cases. This requires the ability to set boundaries for yourself and others. It also requires all social workers to have good stress reduction techniques. This is especially true if clients have the ability to contact you while off the clock. You have to be resilient in the face of many horrible realities of life, such as homelessness, alcoholism, abuse and more. It is important to maintain your own well-being for your own sake as well as for the sake of your clients.


Your clients are unlikely to divulge everything of importance to you. Among many other important social worker qualities, you will need to be perceptive and able to read between the lines of what clients say and do to get to the real source of the problem. You must also be very perceptive of yourself. This includes what you say, how you look and how you come across. Clients look to their social workers for help and advice on a wide array of subjects. You must always be careful of what you say and how you say it, as well as your body language, because you do not want to give clients the impression that they don’t have your support. This is true regardless of whether you agree with them or not.


Social workers must have good persuasive skills to convince clients to take appropriate action. Clients may be actively resistant towards your ideas, so you will have to be able to convince them that following your advice is in their best interest. Even if they aren’t actively resisting your advice, you still must be able to persuade and motivate them to improve their circumstances. This is a core part of a social worker’s role. Persuasive skills are also needed for helping your clients in other ways. This can include, for example, getting new laws and policies passed that will help your clients, testifying in court and more.


Social workers, by nature, work with clients who are in varying states of distress. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to work in this field, you must be very empathetic and a good listener. These qualities will make clients trust you. Empathizing with your clients also helps you understand where they are coming from so you can help solve their issue. Most students who wish to become social workers are already highly empathetic, and it is for that reason they are interested in entering the profession. Empathy is among the most important social worker qualities to possess.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees

Students are drawn to the career of social worker because they want to make a difference in the world. These important social worker qualities will help you do just that.