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RE: SOCW6060 Discussion and Response to 2 Students (WK7)

Discussion: Values Underlying Theory and the NASW Code of Ethics

Every profession has a code of ethics that guides professional behavior. In social work, the NASW Code of Ethics guides the behavior and decision-making practices of social workers. It is important that the theories social workers select in working with clients align, or are consistent, with the values and ethical principles identified in the NASW Code of Ethics.

In this Discussion, you align ethics and theory in relation to practice.

To prepare: Review the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics listed in the Learning Resources.

Post: Use subheadings, be detailed in response and use 3 peer reviewed references (Use The Empowerment Theory)

  • Select feminist theory or empowerment theory. Summarize the underlying principles and values of the theory in 3 to 4 brief sentences.
  • Analyze the extent to which the underlying principles and values of the theory are consistent with the NASW Code of Ethics in 3 to 4 brief sentences.
  • Briefly describe a client from your fieldwork experience and their presenting problem in 2 to 3 sentences using the theory you selected.
  • Identify one ethical standard from the NASW Code of Ethics that would apply to the client you described.
  • Explain how the theory is consistent with the work you did with the client and the ethical standard.

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Response to 2 students

Respond to two colleagues:

  • Explain how theories help inform social work competencies related to engaging with diversity and difference and advancing human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice.

Response to Ericka,

Feminist Theory and Field Experience

Feminist Theory is founded on several different theories and related practices (Turner, 2017). This theoretical framework supports the person-in-environment perspective (Collins, 1986, as cited by Turner, 2017). Feminist Theory emphasizes gaining knowledge regarding gender inequality affecting men, women, and other gender identities (Colorado University, n.d.) and that learning is a lifelong process (Turner, 2017). Social roles are key to how individuals relate to social institutions in Feminist Theory (Colorado University, n.d.). For example, the way the Catholic Church influences the role of family would be an area of interest for feminist theorists. Feminist Theory takes a dynamic approach to social issues by acknowledging how they affect individuals over time influencing maladaptive behaviors and cognitive processes (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2014). The Feminist theoretical framework was useful during my Field Experience working with the homeless population.

The Congruence of Feminist Theory with Social Work Principles

Feminist Theory supports each principle in the NASW Code of Ethics (2017). The egalitarian approach (Turner, 2017) supports the promotion of social justice and the self-determination of everyone. By challenging oppressive institutions and instilling awareness in them (Land, 1995, as cited by Turner, 2017), Feminist Theory supports the Dignity and Worth of the client. The comprehensive inclusion of social work theories used in Feminist Theory to enhance the client’s life (Turner, 2017) demonstrates integrity, competence, and service to the client population.

Client Encountered During Fieldwork at MUST Ministries and Her Presenting Problem in the Context of Feminist Theory

R. E. was a chronically homeless woman in her 40’s who struggled with substance abuse and prostitution related to trauma experienced from early childhood into adulthood. She was involved in an abusive relationship with a man who exploited her, supplied her with drugs, and physically abused her on a regular basis. Her most concerning issue was the resistance she demonstrated in ending the relationship and complying with the program guidelines which appeared to result from her experience with gender-based power dynamics, rape culture, drug culture, and inadequate public care.

Identify One Ethical Standard to Apply in the Client’s Case

According to Feminist Theory, traditional cultural norms affect thinking patterns and behavior patterns (Sommer-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2014). For example, power differential between males and females may have made R. E. feel powerless to leave an abusive relationship. A relevant standard to apply in the case of R. E. is self-determination (NASW, 2017, 1.02). Fostering self-determination involves respecting the client and supporting their autonomy in establishing and achieving their aspirations (NASW, 2017, 1.02). R. E.’s experience with sexual exploitation, abuse, and addiction are disempowering experiences that provided R. E. with a sense of powerlessness that needed to be transformed into a sense of confidence as an agent of her life.

How Feminist Theory Is Consistent with Work I Did with the Client and the Ethical Standard I Identified

The proclaimed goal of Feminist Theory is to establish a society based on the integral value of diversity rather than discrimination based on individual differences (Batliwala, 2008). R. E.’s status as an addict and homeless sex worker resulted in being marginalized. I remained objective by evaluating the client’s history in terms of rape culture, gender inequality, and barriers to resources to understand her behavior and life schema. I did not view her a delinquent or hopeless addict. I did not blame her for her codependency in her relationship with her abuser. These efforts are congruent with Feminist Theory acknowledging social factors involved in shaping behaviors (Land, 1995, as cited by Turner, 2017). I practiced acceptance and honored the limited willingness she demonstrated. I used her moments of receptivity to empower her by taking the time to educate her about resources for trauma survivors and women involved inactive abuse including the services offered by MUST Ministries. Educating clients and other members of society is a key activity of Feminist theoretical framework (Turner, 2017). I remained confident in her capacity for self-determination. Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan (2014) cite self-disclosure as a useful method in applying Feminist Theory to applied social work. I shared my experience with a friend that I assisted in leaving an abusive relationship and her subsequent positive outcomes to provide her with a real-life example and hope. I believe my non-judgmental stance, my efforts to educate R. E. and enhance access to resources as well as my self-disclosure created a safe environment where R. E. could begin to define what self-determination represented to her.

Conclusion

Applying the Feminist theoretical framework to one’s practice is challenging and wrought will complications which may be disheartening or risky (Turner, 2017). R. E. made the conscious decision to leave the relationship and begin making efforts towards sobriety. Sadly, R. E. was sexually assaulted, murdered, and robbed by her abuser who subsequently began threatening her case manager because of her role in R. E.’s attempts establish self-determination in her life. The tragic truth is that many women are killed by their abusers in the process of leaving them. STAND! for Families Free of Violence (n.d.) report that over 70% of domestic violence related deaths occur because the victim leaves their abuser. How does Feminist Theory relate to the cycle of abuse? A feminist-based approach is proactive in addressing social issues that disempower and devalue individuals such as gender inequality and social institution (Land, 1995, as cited by Turner, 2017) such as rape culture and gender inequality. Moving forward, social workers utilizing Feminist Theory must unite with their clients and other professionals to address inequality within society while seeking to enhance awareness and use perseverance as an indispensable tool in combatting accepted norms that are costing people their lives.

References

Batliwala, S. (2008). Changing their world: Concepts and practices of women’s movements.

Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). Retrieved July 7, 2018 from

https://www.awid.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/changing_their_world_2ed_full_eng.pdf

Collins, B. (1986). Defining feminist social work. Social Work, 31(3), 214-219.

Colorado University (n.d.). Basic principles of feminist theory. Retrieved from

https://www.colorado.edu/Sociology/Mayer/Contemporary%20Theory/Feminist%20Theory_files/frame.htm

Land, H. (1995). Feminist social work in the 21st century. In N. Van Den Berg (Ed.), Feminist

practice in the 21st century (pp. 3-19). Washington, DC: NASW Press.

National Association of Social Workers (2017). Read the Code of Ethics. Retrieved from

https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English.aspx

Sommers-Flanagan, J. & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2014). Counseling and psychotherapy

theories in context and practice [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.psychotherapy.net.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/stream/waldenu/video?vid=277

STAND! For Families Free of Violence (n.d.). Statistics. Retrieved from

http://www.standffov.org/statistics/

Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment interlocking theoretical approaches (6th e.).

New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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Response 2 Sarah,

Underlying Principles and Values of Empowerment Theory

Empowerment theory is based on the value of uniting the person and their environment in an attempt to build a stronger more unified community model and more equal shares of power for all involved (Turner, 2017). Empowerment theory has a goal to include the individual, the family, community, and society into the model that directly challenges power struggles and encourages those who are oppressed to evaluate themselves and their surroundings to engage with communities and engage with resources (Turner, 2017). Possibly most importantly, the empowerment theory values that a client works alongside the social worker as an active member of the process to promote a long-term internal change within the client to continue a lifetime of change (Turner, 2017).

Consistency with NASW Code of Ethics

The ethical principles of social workers are service to the oppressed, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence which is the foundation for empowerment theory (National Association of Social Workers, 2018). Empowerment theory is directly in line with the social worker’s code of ethics in that it challenges the social injustice of inequity of resources (Turner, 2017). Further, empowerment theory values the connection of human relationships by building on the relationships of the community in larger support systems where “self is found in community with others.” (Turner, 2017). Social workers must be educated in the way to empower others, including society at large and have the competence to effectively effect change by empowering individuals up to society (National Association of Social Workers, 2018).

Fieldwork Experience with Empowerment Theory

While at my field placement, I witnessed profound internalization of oppression in one of my clients. She was a woman who was being emotionally verbally abused by her husband, had been most of her life by others, had limited access to resources, and believed that she was not worth the work. While in treatment, it appeared that she began to understand and value herself as a person, but returned to the same environment without her husband and the main value of the theory involving a person’s environment was not extended to her full environment and she reverted back to internalized self-loathing. It was a clear example of misuse of empowerment theory in that it did not support the client, the environment, and clinical support to empower the client into long-term change.

Ethical Standard with Client

During her time in treatment, the focus was on her substance use issues and the treatment team was committed to her as directed by the social work code of ethics to promote the well-being of the client (National Association of Social Workers, 2018). The agency also followed informed consent directives allowing the client to make informed decisions about her treatment and disclosures during the entire process with the knowledge of what could happen if she disclosed something that required staff to break her confidentiality or an issue that requires mandatory reporting (National Association of Social Workers, 2018).

During my work with the client, I used empowerment techniques to challenge some of her negative self-talk and work through some ideas to promote her self-worth. Initially, she viewed herself through the lens of her husband and was unable to speak about herself without mentioning him. Through challenges of her negative self thoughts and continued encouragement and support, she began to verbalize more positive view of self and taking more active initiative in her own life and treatment process.

National Association of Social Workers. (2017). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of…

Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (6th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

My References

National Association of Social Workers (2017). Retrieved from

https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English.aspx

Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (6th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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