The Ten Best Podcasts for Social Workers
February 20, 2022
Social work podcasts are an effective way for social work students and clinicians to keep up on the latest research and best practices in the field.
In his article "Podcasting as Social Scholarship: A Tool to Increase the Public Impact of Scholarship and Research" published in the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, Jonathan Singer, an associate professor at the Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work (and podcaster—more on that below), argues that social work podcasts are an effective way to convey research and best practices to social work students and clinicians.
Singer’s study posits that social work podcasts represent "a promising approach to reducing the financial, conceptual, and attitudinal barriers commonly associated with advancing the impact of social work research." Podcasts are free to access, unlike academic social work journals, which are often hidden behind paywalls. Prior research has shown that people can digest and understand complex information conveyed through podcasts—and Singer’s survey shows that social work students and clinicians enjoy receiving the latest on social work research in this format.
Podcasts are inexpensive to produce. Unlike scholarly journals, podcasters face no gatekeepers. All they need is a microphone, a computer, and a hosting service; as a result, they can, and often do, include a broader range of viewpoints than you would encounter in academic literature. Lastly, Singer suggests that well-done social work podcasts (created according to yet to be established academic and professional standards) can be a reliable and engaging form of learning and continuing education, "an exemplar of the scholarship of dissemination."
As Singer notes, podcasts are a popular way to gather information about a subject, as they exist in "a space between entertainment and education." There are podcasts for almost every imaginable subject, including social work.
Social work podcasts cover topics like direct practice, law and advocacy, community organizing, social justice, fieldwork, research, racism and prejudice, self-care, and complicated dilemmas relating to the social work Code of Ethics. For social workers, these podcasts help them keep up on the latest information in their field and stay connected to other professionals and experts in the world of social services.
In this article, we'll take a look at the ten best podcasts for social workers and what they focus on, as well as the following topics:
- Do I need a master’s in social work?
- What is a social work master’s?
- What are the top schools that offer social work master’s?
The ten best podcasts for social workers
The following podcasts are hosted and produced by working licensed clinical social workers, professors in social work education, professionals who have retired from private practice, and even a few by laypeople. These podcasts and dozens are available via your preferred streaming platform, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google, PlayerFM, Stitcher, or Spotify.
_The Social Work Podcast_
The Social Work Podcast with Jonathan Singer, PhD, LCSW was voted "Best in #socialwork" on Twitter. Singer, an associate professor of social work at Loyola University Chicago, is the creator and host of this popular series. He notes that "although the intended audience is social workers, the information will be useful to anyone in a helping profession (including psychology, nursing, psychiatry, counseling, and education)."
Recent episodes and guests have included "Feedback Informed Treatment" with Scott Miller, PhD; "Self-Care and Cultural Humility in the 2021 NASW Code of Ethics" with Alan Barsky, MSW, PhD, and former Chair of the National Ethics Committee for the NASW; "Religion and Spirituality in Social Work" with Holly Oxhandler, PhD; and a discussion of an article Singer wrote with fellow podcast host Shimon Cohen (see below) on the "Power of Podcasting in Social Work Education" for New Social Worker Magazine.
_Doin' the Work: Frontline Stories of Social Change_
Shimon Cohen, MSW, LCSW is the founder, producer, and host of Doin' the Work: Frontline Stories of Social Change. He describes himself as "outspoken and passionate about anti-racist and anti-oppressive social work."
Cohen’s podcast topics have featured "Stop Whitewashing Social Work History: Tell the Truth" with Kelechi Wright, LCPC and Kortney Carr, LCSW; "Decolonizing Mental Health & Supporting Indigenous Women" with Tyra Wanatee-Flores, BSW; and "Taking Action on Social Determinants of Health" with Armen Henderson, MD.
In Singer and Cohen's article for New Social Worker Magazine, "The Power of Podcasting in Social Work Education", they discuss the accessibility of podcasts and the unique opportunity offered by this format, particularly the ability to feature the "voices of those who have been historically marginalized, such as those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC)."
_Social Work Talks_
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) produces an excellent podcast of its own titled Social Work Talks. It addresses a wide range of vital topics for professionals in the field of social work, such as diversity and inclusion in health services, domestic violence, addiction, and child welfare, as well as workplace issues including burnout and stress.
inSocialWork and Research in Action
In addition to the individual LCSWs and professional social work organizations producing podcasts, there are several academic podcast series of note. These social work program-produced podcasts include inSocialWork, hosted by professor Peter Sobota, a clinical assistant professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, and Research in Action, hosted by Dr. Katie Linder, former research director for Oregon State University Ecampus.
The Equity Matters Podcast, Transgressive, The Podcast, and Mental Health Moment
Series like The Equity Matters Podcast help to collect and amplify the stories of people in marginalized communities, as do podcasts that focus on specific underrepresented populations, such as Transgressive, The Podcast which focuses on LGBTQ issues andr Mental Health Moment, which seeks to destigmatize mental illness.
Pod Save the People and The Mental Illness Happy Hour
There are several social work-adjacent podcasts that, while not hosted by clinicians, cover topics related to human behavior and may be of interest to social workers. The news-focused Pod Save the People with DeRay Mckesson, for instance, provides social context related to issues of race and society, healthcare, politics, activism, and social justice—and their impact on people of color.
Comedian Paul Gilmartin’s The Mental Illness Happy Hour focuses on interviewing people whose stories help destigmatize issues related to mental health and is "geared towards anyone interested in or affected by depression, addiction, and other mental challenges."
Do I need a master’s in social work?
If, after exploring some or all of these podcasts, you find yourself thinking about entering or advancing within this field, you might wonder whether you need a master’s in social work degree.
While it’s possible to be a social worker with only a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), most advanced and higher-paid positions in the field require a Master of Social Work (MSW. In fact, this graduate-level socialwork degree is required if you intend to be a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).
What is a social work master’s?
A Master of Social Work degree prepares students through a practice-based advanced program to obtain licensure to practice social work in their state. Only MSW degree holders can become licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) and practice in clinical or in private practice settings.
How long does it take to earn an MSW degree?
Typically, it takes two years of full-time study to earn an MSW. However, there are several paths to the degree, including via part-time, on-campus or remote, and accelerated or advanced standing programs (the latter is for applicants who have completed a Bachelor of Social Work; they may be able to apply undergraduate credits toward their degree).
Admissions requirements are unique to each program, so, take the time to research each school’s particulars. Most require transcripts from an accredited undergraduate college or university (with a GPA of 3.0 or higher), letters of recommendation, and a statement of intent that reflects the applicant's commitment to social work. Some schools require standardized test scores (usually the GRE); others won't even look at them. A third group asks for GRE scores only for candidates who fail to meet other requirements (e.g., those with an undergraduate GPA below 3.0).
Curriculum also is program-specific, but all MSW programs include coursework related to the NASW Code of Ethics; individual, family, and community care; race and social justice; child welfare; advocacy and law; research methods; and social work theories.
As you work to complete your degree, you'll need to decide whether you are interested in practicing on the micro, mezzo, or macro-level of care. This will help you determine your area of professional specialization (if you haven’t already done so).
Each program has distinct offerings. For example, the online MSW at Tulane University offers specializations in disaster and collective trauma and in mental health, addictions, and the family, while Howard University offers concentrations in direct practice and community, administration, and policy practice.
What are the top schools that offer social work master’s?
You can always search through the lists of top schools for a social work master’s degree, but the best program for you is the one that dovetails with your career plans. The following social work programs are highly regarded and a good place to start your search:
- Boston College
- Columbia University
- Howard University
- New York University
- Tulane University
- University of Southern California
- Virginia Commonwealth University
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