It takes a particularly dedicated practitioner to work with victims of sexual crimes. A master’s degree in social work will hone skill sets that are integral to earning the trust of vulnerable clients that have survived horrific abuses. While you may feel a calling to make a difference in this field, a master's level curriculum ensures you will have the experience and insight to be an effective helper.
Some skill sets required when working with victims of sex crimes include:
It is imperative that the social worker can establish a trusting rapport with clients. This requires an sincerity and genuine engagement that may come naturally but that will be reinforced through clinical practice courses at the master’s level. It is important to identify ways to engage client, for example, working with teenagers could involve some insight into modern culture and popular trends in order to make this connection. A client may tell when you are not being sincere. A lack of follow-through can put huge obstacles in your rapport with clients and affect the impact that you have. Do what you’ll say you do.
You will learn the importance of discretion and confidentiality when working with victims of crimes. You need to obtain consent from the client or their guardian to release any information.
An effective practitioner has empathy for their clients and is able to see situations from varying perspectives. Check your preconceived notions and biases at the door; empathy is what distinguishes a social worker from a truly great social worker. Compassion is key and may be what keeps you working in such a challenging field. It can be emotionally exhausting to work with victims of sex crimes, so it is integral to take time for yourself to prevent burnout or compassion fatigue.
It is important to note that social workers always treat victims, survivors, and all clients with respect and dignity. This also means that the practitioner should give themselves the same respect by setting firm boundaries and asserting limitations- which may not always be easy to do.
An MSW will teach you how to communicate when dealing with very difficult situations. Through the online MSW program offered by FSU, you’ll hone your communication skills include listening skills, documentation, research and real-world practice.
You will wear many hats when working with victims of sex abuse, from advocate to therapist. Effective time management is a skill that can help prevent burn-out.
If you feel a calling to work with those that have been victims of sex crimes or abuse, consider gaining the experiential training and coursework to make you an effective interventionist. Pursue your Masters of Social Work through online MSW programs, whether you currently hold a BA, BS, or another degree.
For further reading, check out this blog post: MSW Spotlight: Q&A with Craig Stanley, Ph., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Psychology Today, 7 Ways to Help a Teen Survivor of Sexual Assault