Clinical social work and social justice
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AbstractThis study explores how clinical social workers working in the field of mental health understand and express social justice. Interest in this area arose in the context of an increased interest both within the social work profession and from outside, to increase efforts to attain social justice. Yet the concept of social justice is not well understood. Meanings differ, depending on underlying political philosophy and goals. Eighteen social workers practicing in the field of mental health were interviewed in order to gain insight into their understanding and interpretation of what social justice means. Grounded theory method was utilized in the collection and analysis of data. With respect to the meaning of social justice for participants the following main themes were identified: social justice as social systems, social justice as resources, and social justice as transformative respect. The primary vehicle for advancing social justice for participants in this study was through advocacy. A re-conceptualization of what advocacy entails is presented. Barriers, identified by participants, to achieving social justice include: time, the organization, complexity, ambivalence, and the clinical trap. Recommendations for improving the ability of clinical social workers to engage in social justice strategies are suggested. For example, a revamping of the advanced practice social work curriculum is required with particular emphasis paid to the multiple meanings of social justice, including different underlying political philosophies. Further, it is suggested that professional associations are an under utilized resource for engaging social workers in social justice pursuits.
Bibliography: p. 185-206
CitationMcLaughlin, A. M. (2006). Clinical social work and social justice (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/490
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