I am a Social Worker Interested in ChatGPT But Don't Know How or Where to Start

Dr. Marina A. Badillo-Diaz, LCSW
Apr 03, 2024By Dr. Marina A. Badillo-Diaz, LCSW

Welcome to the world of generative, specifically ChatGPT! If you're a social worker curious about how this technology can benefit you but feeling lost or unsure on where to begin, you're in the right place. This post will guide you through the basics of ChatGPT, how it can be applied in social work, and provide you with some free prompts to get started.

Getting Started with ChatGPT

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is a state-of-the-art language model that can generate text based on the prompts it receives. It's capable of understanding and generating human-like responses, making it a valuable tool for various applications, including customer service, content creation, and even therapeutic communication. Its versatility and ease of use have sparked interest across many professions, including social work.

Before you begin using ChatGPT, you want to ensure you are using it ethically and responsibly. Do not input any identifiable information or client data. Also, you want to make sure that you read and validate the information ChatGPT generates. Remember, this is a tool to support your social work practice, and generative AI models do make mistakes and errors. You are still the expert on social work content knowledge, and you must analyze the information that is created.

Why Should Social Workers use ChatGPT?

As a social worker, we are constantly looking for ways to be more efficient in completing work tasks to improve the quality of our services. ChatGPT can streamline documentation, help you refine treatment plan goals, and research resources for case management services about best practices. 

Setting Up Your ChatGPT Account

Visit the OpenAI Website: OpenAI provides access to ChatGPT through its website. You can interact with the model directly from your browser.

Once the website is open you will find the ChatGPT chatbox. The ChatGPT chatbox is straightforward, and it's designed to be user-friendly for a wide range of conversations, from seeking information to generating creative content. 

In the chatbox, you can type a prompt or question you have. Your prompt can be anything from a question about a specific topic, a request for advice, a desire for a piece of writing (like a poem or essay), or even asking for explanations on complex subjects. Here are some tips for typing your prompts:

Be Specific: The more specific your prompt, the more accurate and helpful ChatGPT's response will be. If you're too vague, you might not get the information or the type of response you're seeking.
Provide Context: If your question or request needs some background information to make sense, be sure to include that in your prompt. This helps ChatGPT understand exactly what you're looking for.
Use Clear Language: While ChatGPT is quite sophisticated, using clear and straightforward language can help ensure you get the best possible response.

woman placing sticky notes on wall

Best Practices for Social Workers Using ChatGPT

As a social worker, there are several best practices to keep in mind when using ChatGPT to engage with clients and provide support:

  • Be transparent about the use of AI technology in your interactions.
  • Ensure confidentiality and data security at all times.
  • Read, monitor,  and evaluate the chatbot's responses

Free Prompts to Enter into ChatGPT

Copy and paste these prompts one at a time directly in your ChatGPT chatbox to practice:

Therapeutic Communication Practice

Prompt: "Provide an example of how to open a conversation with a client who is experiencing anxiety about future employment."

Case Note Assistance

Prompt: "Help me draft a case note for a client who has recently lost their job and is showing signs of depression. Focus on their emotional state, coping strategies, and next steps."

Research and Information Gathering

Prompt: "Summarize the latest research on trauma-informed care in social work practice."

Intervention Ideas

Prompt: "Generate a list of intervention strategies for a teenager struggling with social isolation."

Self-care Strategies for Social Workers

Prompt: "Provide a list of self-care activities specifically suited for social workers dealing with secondary traumatic stress."

Continuous Learning and Improvement

Stay updated on the latest developments in AI technology and chatbot capabilities to maximize the benefits of using ChatGPT in your social work practice. Be open to this innovative tool as a complement to your existing skills and expertise as a social worker. Lastly continue to practice. It's okay to not get it right on the first try! Keep trying and exploring the platform to improve your accuracy and prompting techniques.