Empowerment and Strengths-Based Perspective: Social Work Essay

4769 Words Oct 17th, 2011 20 Pages
Empowerment and a strengths perspective which support the development of innate abilities and recognize differences in a positive manner are also helping social workers increase the individual client’s capacity to learn to use his or her own systems constructively

More than a simple linguistic nuance, the notion that social workers do not empower others, but instead, help people empower themselves is an ontological distinction that frames the reality experienced by both social workers and clients (Simon, 1990, p. 32, quoted in Saleeby, 2006, p. 98)

This paper firstly looks at empowerment, what it is, and how it can assist social workers in enhancing their client’s competence through development of self-efficacy,
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Consciousness raising is an educational outcome of empowerment, that has been tapped to combat oppression and injustice, as it enables the individual to understand the source of their powerlessness or oppression and to see that the situation is ‘not their fault’. “Critical consciousness is the key ingredient in realizing empowerment” (Carr, 2003, p. 15, referring to Freire). That is, arriving at critical consciousness enables people to act, including a possible re-creation of their identity in relation to their environment, and to reassess their relationships within that environment, which, in turn, can enable positive social change — Conscientization, or raised consciousness, is thus a mobilising force (Carr, 2003, p. 15).

Psychological empowerment, according to Zimmerman (1995, p. 590), has three major components that “merge to form a picture of a person who believes that he or she has the capability to influence a given context [intrapersonal component], understands how the system works in that context [interactional component], and engages in behaviours to exert control in the context” [behavioural component], which exemplify development of consciousness.

Social workers can foster the action of empowerment education by working with clients and asking them to question
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