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Brief History of Social Working in Iran


Sattareh Farmanfarmaian who had received her degree in social work from UCLA brought the new policies in Social Work to Iran in 1958 after she was experienced enough as a social worker and social services officer in UN and established the first Social Work school in Iran.
The school started with 20 students in Tehran. It was a 2 year training course containing both theoretical and field work. 7 years later this course was developed into a BA degree with 4 years of study according to university syllables. The graduates were qualified to occupy the social work positions in different areas of social services such as: Hospitals, nurseries, rural development agencies, family and children services, industry, social welfare and development …
In 1960 the school joined the International Organization of Social Work Schools. In 1970 the school developed a 2 year course for social workers interested to study for MA degree. During the following years other social work institutes/schools established; but after the revolution in Iran some schools and educational institutes had to merge into one, named Allameh Tabatabaeie. However, there was a huge need for trained social workers that led the government establish the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences in 1992.
Now, there are a lot of universities, governmental or private, that are training social workers in different degrees all around Iran.
Nowadays social workers in Iran have variety of career’s choices. Fields that social workers are employed in are as follows:

Health and Medical:
Social workers offer social services and financial aid for patients who are in need in this field. They also offer social and welfare services to the people who suffer from mental illness or affected by HIV or AIDS.
Social workers in this field work in hospitals and treatment centers …
Social workers offer social and welfare services to the staff. If needed, they play the role of a mediator/facilitator between the employer and employees.
Social workers in this field work in factories, organizations …

Justice system:
Social workers in this area offer counseling services, reports to the court especially for domestic conflict files which are reported to the court for divorce by any of the couples.
Social workers also offer empowerment programs in case of juvenile delinquency and to imprisoned individuals and their families.
Social workers in this field work in Ministry of Justice, judiciary, courts, Police force, state prisons and security and corrective organization, prisons, correction centers for juvenile delinquency…

Social problems:
Services in this area consist of: Research, Crisis intervention (domestic violence, divorce, addiction, suicide …) social emergency helpline.
Social workers in this field work in Welfare Organization, Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare, Ministry of Interior, Municipalities, Drug Control Headquarters, Police Force, courts…

Children services:
In this area social workers are employed to offer interventional and empowerment services in the fields of child abuse, foster care, day care, working street children, child labor, runaway girls …
Social workers in this field work in nurseries, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Welfare Organization, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare…

Aging and disabilities:
Services are offered in the rehabilitation and residential centers both in the areas of disability welfare and empowerment by social workers.
Social workers in this field work in senior centers, nursing homes, Welfare Organization, Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare, Red Crescent, Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affair, Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation …

Women and Family services:
These services are offered by social workers and other professionals on the basis of team work in family courts, family counseling clinics, social work clinics and women financial aids.
Social workers in this field work in Welfare Organization, Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare, Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation…

Natural disasters and crisis interventions:
Social workers in this field work in Red Crescent, National Disaster Management Organization.

Revolutionary organizations:
Social workers offer psycho-social and financial services to veterans and families of martyrs.
Social workers in this field work in Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affair, Mostazafan Foundation, Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation.

Informal settlements:
Social workers are employed by Welfare organization to offer social community work and community development in marginalized areas and informal settlements.
Social workers in this field work in Welfare Organization.

Education and Training:
Social workers in this field work in Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, schools, special education schools, consulting centers of universities, professional education and training centers …
Please note that according to Iran’s law, in the most fields mentioned above social workers also employed in private organization.


See Sattareh Farman Farmaian, Dona Munker: Daughter of Persia: A Woman’s Journey from Her Father’s Harem Through the Islamic Revolution,2006.

University of California, Los Angeles

The Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation was founded in March 1979 as a charity organization to provide support for poor families. (

The Mostazafan Foundation of Islamic Revolution formerly Bonyad-e Mostazafan va Janbazan (Foundation of the Oppressed and Disabled or “MFJ”) is a charitable foundation, in the Islamic Republic of Iran. (

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