The Importance of Ongoing Learning: CPD Examples for Social Workers

Continuing professional development (CPD) is critical for social workers to maintain their skills, stay up to date on best practices, and provide the best possible services to their clients. Social work cpd examples involves ongoing learning and development activities that help social workers enhance their knowledge and competencies throughout their career.


Social work is a dynamic profession that requires practitioners to be lifelong learners. The field is constantly evolving as new research emerges, policies change, and societal needs shift. As a result, it is essential for social workers to regularly participate in CPD activities to ensure they provide ethical, effective, and informed services.

CPD benefits social workers in many ways:

  • Keeps their skills, knowledge and practice up to date
  • Allows them to learn about new models of care, therapeutic techniques, legislation and policies
  • Helps improve client outcomes and satisfaction
  • Demonstrates commitment to excellence and high professional standards
  • Meets continuing education requirements for licensing and credentialing
  • Provides new ideas and tools to avoid burnout and compassion fatigue

Social workers have a professional responsibility to engage in CPD. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics states that social workers should “continue professional education and development to improve their practice” throughout their career. Most licensing boards also require documented CPD hours to maintain a social work license.

While CPD is mandatory, it should also be viewed as an opportunity for career development and personal growth. When social workers dedicate time to building their expertise, they become more empowered and effective practitioners.

CPD Activities for Social Workers

There are many diverse CPD activities social workers can engage in to strengthen their skillset and knowledge. Here are some impactful examples:

Formal Education Courses

  • Degree programs – Master’s, PhD, DSW
  • Certificate programs in specialized areas like therapy techniques, policy, leadership, etc.
  • Mini courses on specific topics like trauma, ethics, cultural competence, etc.

Taking a class or structured program is an in-depth way to build new capabilities. Social workers can select formal education opportunities that align with their interests, career goals, and client needs.

Conferences and Seminars

  • National and local conferences covering new research and best practices
  • Workshops and seminars on emerging topics and methods
  • Webinars and online learning events are convenient and cost-effective

Conferences allow social workers to network and collaborate with colleagues while learning about latest developments. Leading experts often present at these events.

Independent Learning

  • Reading books, journals, and publications
  • Listening to informational podcasts
  • Watching documentaries and instructional videos
  • Visiting educational websites

Self-directed learning allows social workers to customize their CPD experience. They can choose low or no-cost resources that appeal to their learning style and current needs.

On-the-Job Training

  • Shadowing other social workers
  • Trying new interventions and skills with clients
  • Asking for feedback from clients and colleagues
  • Reflecting on successes and areas for improvement

Hands-on training and experimentation allow for experiential learning. Social workers can discover and refine techniques while working directly with clients.

Peer Learning Communities

  • Joining in-person or online peer consultation groups
  • Forming mentorship relationships
  • Networking with colleagues at conferences and events
  • Participating in workgroup meetings and collaborations

Connecting with professional peers reinforces skills and provides new insights. Social workers can give and receive knowledge by sharing experiences.

Tips for Developing Your CPD Plans

Here are some best practices for social workers to get the most value out of their CPD:

  • Assess your strengths and developmental areas – choose activities aligned with your goals
  • Seek both breadth and depth of learning to boost your versatility
  • Combine different formats like courses, reading, peer learning, and hands-on experiences
  • Set aside regular time to focus just on building your capabilities
  • Document your activities and reflect on how you are applying the knowledge
  • Look for CPD opportunities related to your client populations and specialty
  • Earn more than your minimum required hours to really grow your expertise
  • Balance picking up new information with practicing skills for mastery
  • View CPD as an ongoing process throughout your entire career


CPD is a critical component of being an ethical and effective social worker. Prioritizing continuing education demonstrates a commitment to providing the best care for clients. It also allows social workers to develop specializations, advance their careers, and avoid burnout. By actively engaging in a diversity of CPD activities, social workers can feel confident they are honing their skills and meeting the profession’s standards of excellence. The time dedicated to building capabilities ultimately empowers social workers to create meaningful change in people’s lives.

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