Lived Experiences That Influence Social Work Students Selection Of Addiction As A Field Of Practice
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The social work profession acknowledges addiction as a major societal problem. The social work profession also acknowledges its shortage in the addiction field of practice as being problematic. The number of social work students who selected addiction as a specialization was only partly responsible for the social work shortage. In 2012, there were 607,300 social work positions in the U.S., of which 114,200 were social workers in the fields of mental health and substance abuse. With the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, mental health and substance abuse social work positions are expected to grow by 23% (26,000) to 140,200 by 2022. The purpose of this study is to explore the lived experiences that influenced social work students in the selection of addiction as a field of practice. This exploratory qualitative study used the Social Cognitive Career Theory and Phenomenology as its theological and methodological frameworks. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, known as Adobe Connect, was used to conduct individual online interviews. Study participants included 9 social work students who were enrolled in an addiction concentration or addiction certification program at 8 different schools of social work. This study explores the primary overarching research question: What were lived experiences that influenced social work students' selection of addiction as a field of practice? The findings revealed three major categories: family influence, social work influence, and access to the field influence. Themes were also revealed within these categories including family addiction, early years, friends, social workers, and employment.