About the NASW



The National Association of Social Workers is the largest membership organization of social workers in the world with 140,000 members. It works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies that improve well-being for individuals, families and communities. It was founded in 1955. NASW has chapters in all 50 states, as well as in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.


The social work profession was established in 1898 at Columbia University. Early pioneers included Jane Addams, Mary Richmond, Jeannette Rankin, and Frances Perkins, among many others. Today, more than 650,000 professionally trained social workers in the United States help individuals, groups, and families restore or enhance their capacity for full social functioning. The profession is guided by the NASW Code of Ethics which also calls professional social workers to help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. Social workers help people address their own needs through support services and advocacy.


Social work practice consists of the professional application of social work values, principles, and techniques to one or more of the following ends: helping people obtain tangible services; counseling and psychotherapy with individuals, families, and groups; helping communities or groups provide or improve social and health services; and participating in legislative processes. The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior; of social and economic, and cultural institutions; and of the interaction of all these factors. NASW provides its members with continuing education courses, standards of practice, state and national advocacy, advanced credentials, and a diverse professional network to ensure long-term career advancement.