Founded in 1955 the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest organization of professional social workers in the world, with over 150,000 members in fifty-six chapters nationwide and internationally. NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.

The NASW-Maine Chapter, with over 1000 members, is the major professional social work organization in the state. The NASW-Maine Chapter is committed to advancing professional social work practice and to promoting human rights, social and economic justice, and unimpeded access to services for everyone. Its members are trained professionals who have Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degrees in social work. We also have Associate members who have other degrees (LCPCs, LMFTs, Psychiatric Nurses, Etc,) but work in a social work environment or are similarly committed to the social justice work of NASW. 

They all practice in a wide variety of settings, including community mental health centers, family service agencies, private practice, child welfare services, K-12 schools, universities, hospitals, homeless shelters, nursing homes, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, courts, prisons, and a variety of other public and private agencies. 

Professional social workers address problems as varied as mental illness, substance abuse, health challenges, disabilities, inadequate housing, workplace tensions, poverty, family violence, trauma, social injustice, inadequate access to services, etc. Social workers work directly with individuals and families, as well as in public policy, administration, research, community organizing, political action, among many other arenas. 

Professional social workers are the nation’s largest group of mental health service providers. Federal law recognizes social work as one of the four core mental health professions. About half of NASW members are clinical social workers providing direct client services. To protect the public and ensure high quality social work services, NASW sets practice standards, enforces a code of ethics, and works to improve state regulation of professional social workers.