Social Service Worker

Social service workers are health care professionals that may assess, treat, and evaluate (but do not diagnose) individual, interpersonal and societal problems through the use of their social service work knowledge, skills, interventions, and strategies. They work with patients to understand the social contexts of their problems and how it affects their quality of life, relationships, and social interactions. Social service workers help to manage sources of stress by designing solutions that strengthen coping skills. Problems that social service workers help solve include:

  • Mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Relationship problems
  • Adjusting to life crises or changes due to aging or adapting to a new environment.
  • Suicide ideation
  • Grief and loss
  • Addictions
  • Recovering from physical or sexual abuse
  • Caregiver-related pressures

By using counseling and psychotherapy, social service workers provide services in a variety of different settings. This includes hospitals, addiction centers, senior centers, correctional facilities, schools and private, public, and family clinics.  Some of these services provided by social service workers include: 

  • Individual, family, and couple assessments 
  • Counseling for eating disorders, addiction, mental health problems, grief, social and relationship problems etc.
  • Managing stress
  • Adoption planning
  • Resolving disputes
  • Career/employment counseling and placement
  • Assessing child custody/access 

A Registered Social Service Worker must have obtained a two-year College Diploma in Social Service Work from a College of Applied Arts and Technology. It is important to note that the contexts of practice for a Social Service Worker and a Social Worker may overlap.

In Ontario, “Social service worker” is a regulated profession subject to the Code of Ethics and Standards for Practice defined by the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers of Ontario. For more information on regulatory colleges, view our What is a Regulatory College page.