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Nedda Gilbert
Noodle Expert Member

March 10, 2021

For those who feel called to service, there are many reasons to earn a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) degree and become a licensed social worker. Social workers are committed to helping people improve their lives. At their core, they want to make the world a better place. Whether they have always wanted to be involved with this field, or became inspired after witnessing adversity in their own lives or communities, MSWs work in a variety of meaningful and fulfilling positions.

Social workers play a vital role in our society, and serve across many different industries. When it comes to trauma and disaster relief, their work is especially crucial. For individuals and communities who are facing the largest struggles they’ve ever known, specialist social workers are there to make all the difference.

The MSW For Disaster Relief

MSWs are trained to handle a diverse set of problems and in many different contexts. As such, they can support different types of populations. One area in which MSW degree holders increasingly play a role is in disaster relief. Social workers interested in this type of work focus on helping individuals and communities through the recovery process. This involves assisting with the emotional and physical trauma associated with surviving a disaster.

MSWs may operate as part of a team of community organizers in the aftermath of disasters large and small. The work they do includes providing mental health services and identifying and treating post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma related disorders. They also assist with recovery efforts related to navigating relief benefits (such as FEMA), and can help individuals find local housing to rebuild their lives.

Social workers interested in disaster and mental health relief work might consider pursuing an MSW degree with a dedicated course of study or certification program in intervention, disaster management, and trauma treatment options.

However, it is also possible to build expertise in this area by pursuing a clinical mental health track as the focus of MSW study. Students choosing to generalize in clinical mental health can use their fieldwork placements to build specialized expertise in disaster relief and mental health. Veterans Hospitals, other military agencies, and groups like the Red Cross often participate with MSW programs to provide fieldwork internships. Veterans often experience stress disorders such as PTSD after returning from deployments. On top of that, the military is often involved in disaster relief efforts. So it makes sense that military organizations have strong placements for MSWs who wish to practice disaster and trauma relief.

If you are interested in building an expertise in disaster relief providing a range of services to victims of natural and man-made disasters, coordinating care and social service resources, and providing in mental health counseling, you may want to consider study at Tulane University Schools Social Work.

Through the Tulane online MSW program, students can earn a Disaster Mental Health and Trauma Studies. Tulane’s program offers one one of the few disaster mental health programs in the U.S. Study there will position you to enter the field with hands-on experience in working with disaster victims, as well as providing crisis intervention and disaster management.