Top 5 Books for Social Work Majors

Want to get an idea of what to expect when entering the field of social work with your online BSW? Do a little research. There are some excellent resources, books and guides that will outline your responsibilities, roles and scope of practice — they could inspire you to pursue a bachelors in social work. The five best books for social workers are:

1. On Death and Dying.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is considered a pioneer in the field of social work, and this book is ground-breaking. Her stages of grief are spot-on and are as true today as when she outlined them in “On Death and Dying” in 1969. The book is a staple of any therapist’s office. and is often a required read in Bachelor of Social Work, Sociology and Psychology curricula.

2. The Clinician’s Guide to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorders.

A little less than 10% of the population suffers from personality disorders, which makes it a social issue. “The Clinician’s Guide to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorders” by Dr. Daniel J. Fox sheds light on the different disorders, how the condition impacts the patient and how to self-actualize the patient. Everyone has a personality, so the propensity for a personality disorder exists; it can be challenging to treat.

3. Self-care in Social Work.

When social workers fail to take care of their own needs, they can burn out and develop compassion fatigue. “Self-care in Social Work” by Cox and Steiner addresses the necessity of self-care as well as some ways to identify signs of burnout in practitioners. Need something more interactive to drive the point home? Another great read that addresses the importance of self-care in social work is “The Compassion Fatigue Workbook” by Fran Mathieu.

4. The DSM-V.

The DSM-V is an updated version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that serves as the benchmark of work in mental health and social work. This latest edition was published in 2013 and is considered a universal tool for outlining criteria and making diagnoses in the world of clinical social work, nursing, psychiatry and healthcare. The coding of the conditions listed in this easy-to-read guide is used for billing in healthcare settings, and the symptoms listed help to clarify diagnostic work.

5. The Case Manager’s Handbook.

A very in-demand career for social workers with a bachelor's degree is case management. “The Case Manager’s Handbook” by Catherine M. Mullahy outlines the varied areas that case managers must address to provide both holistic services and best outcomes for clients. From setting boundaries with clients to referral resources, ethical issues to setting up independent practice, this manual touches on the multiple roles and responsibilities of a social work case manager.

There are a lot of social work books out there, and you could literally spend days combing through them all. There are, however, a handful of must-reads for every social worker, veteran and burgeoning practitioner alike. Make sure these five titles are prominent on your bookshelf, and think about a future in social work.