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Empowerment Practice with Families in Distress

Empowerment Practice with Families in Distress

Judith Bula Wise
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Empowerment Practice with Families in Distress
    Book Description:

    For more than 150 years, empowering practices have been used by social workers in their work with families, but the techniques of today differ significantly from those of the pioneers or even from those of a few years ago. Today's practitioners recognize that empowering others is impossible; social workers can, however, assist others as they empower themselves. This book integrates time-honored approaches with today's more modest goals, mindful of what empowerment can and cannot do. Synthesizing several theoretical supports-the strengths perspective, system theory, theories of family well-being, and theories of coping-the author responds to the question "What works?" with today's families in need. Practice illustrations are provided throughout to bring concepts to life and, more important, to present families describing their own experiences with achieving empowerment.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52947-1
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Editor’s Note
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Social work services with families in distress and need in the United States can be traced to 1818 and the volunteer “visitors” to homes of the poor, one of the programs on the agenda of the New York Society for Prevention of Pauperism. The New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor (AICP), established in 1843, “served as a model for many general relief societies in the 1840s and 1850s” (Lubove 1977) and actively served the needs of families in financial, health, emotional, and other forms of distress. Social work “owes its beginning as a profession to the...

  6. Part I A Family-Centered Empowerment Framework
    • 1 Empowerment Then and Now
      (pp. 19-55)

      For nearly two centuries, social workers have been familiar with empowerment thinking as it relates to work with families in distress. It has been known by different names across that span of time, as noted in the introduction’s historical overview of social work services to families since the early 1800s. The widely used concepts and actions of those times were grounded in the work of Karl Marx, Susan B. Anthony, Emma Goldman, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Paulo Freire (Simon 1990) and shaped the empowerment theories that “give philosophical preference to the views of the oppressed,...

    • 2 Seeing Families Through an Empowerment Lens
      (pp. 56-88)

      Blended families, foster families, adoptive families, families with one parent in the home, multigenerational families, multilingual families, lesbian and gay families, common law families, traditional nuclear families, dual-occupation and dual-career families, homeless families, immigrant families, multicultural families, polygamous and polyandrous families—these are some of the families that social workers meet. These families represent only a portion of the diversity in structure observed among families in the United States today. Their complexity includes factors of socioeconomic strata, age, gender, religion and spiritual beliefs, sexual orientation, differing abilities, languages, geography, ethnicity, and developmental stages, and stages in the family life cycle...

  7. Part II Three Family Profiles:: The Journey from Oppression to Empowerment
    • [Part II Introduction]
      (pp. 89-92)

      The families whose stories shape the next three chapters exemplify remarkable strength in response to overwhelming odds. Drawing strength from adversity is a universal human experience. The strength in families is often not fully evident until they are called upon to face daunting challenges. This is only one of the reasons, however, that each of these families was selected. A second reason was to illustrate the empowerment framework in a variety of situations, at the personal, interpersonal, and social levels of practice, and in the broad diversity of the population served.

      Empowerment, by definition, focuses attention on oppressions experienced by...

    • 3 The Laurencio-Smith Family: Our Differences Saved Us
      (pp. 93-120)

      Suspicious bruises, cuts, welts, and burn marks immediately caught the eye of Danny’s father, Jorgé Laurencio (age 35), and his partner, Lydia Smith (age 28), when they were helping Danny (age 4) get ready for his nap that Tuesday afternoon in March. Danny had just returned from a visit with his biological mother, Maria, who lived in an apartment in a nearby town, about a twenty-minute drive through the Connecticut countryside. Jorgé recalls feeling both horrified and furious. His worst fears were becoming reality. When he and Maria were still living together, he had seen her come close to hitting...

    • 4 The Williams Family: New Lives Beyond Incest
      (pp. 121-150)

      As their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary celebration came to a close, Jane Williams (age 50) had a clear sense that “all was not right” with her family. But she and her husband, John (age 52), and their two daughters, Linda (age 18) and Susan (age 16), still had visiting family and friends to entertain and take care of. Then, the busyness of their middle-class suburban lifestyle took over once again. The moment of clarity passed, but not for long. It was only one month later that the telephone call came from Susan’s school social worker with a recommendation that the whole...

    • 5 The Brown-Wiley Family: Homeless No More
      (pp. 151-178)

      Cynthia Brown left Michigan on her thirtieth birthday in the middle of the night with her two children, Charlie (age 7) and Jessie (age 5), after the worst of her husband’s rages. Mike Brown had been beating and verbally abusing her for nine years, since one month after their wedding. Several emergency room visits for a broken nose, two broken ribs, and fear for the safety of their second child during pregnancy strengthened her resolve to leave him as soon as she could figure out how to make it happen. Financial dependence and knowing that he was capable of following...

  8. Part III Helping Families
    • 6 The Phases and Actions of Empowering Practice
      (pp. 181-222)

      The three phases of helping—beginning, middle, and ending—can aid the social worker in conceptualizing the progression of the work. It is useful for the worker to know the generalities about each phase, but the specific shape that each phase takes for an individual family can be determined only in the moment-by-moment transactions with that family. Each phase is characterized by a context, by developmental needs (of the family unit, of the individuals in the family, of the work itself), by a complex web of multicultural factors, by different qualities in the relationship between worker and the family system...

  9. Part IV A Closer Look at Families WITH Their Communities
    • 7 Empowering Families with Community Resources
      (pp. 225-257)

      The family is our first community. From our earliest days as infants, long before the development of verbal skill, we watchfully experience how transactions occur among and between our family members. We observe and experience nurturing and neglect, strengthening and weakening, empowerment and oppression (personal dimensions). In biological, adoptive, and extended families alike, we hear and are affected by interactions (interpersonal dimensions) of loving and hating, of dominance/submission and equal respect, of power/control and guiding with competence and self-assurance, of frustration and support. Extended-family members are a vital part of this family-as-community as they serve as a bridge between the...

    • 8 Supporting Theories that Empower Social Worker-Family Transactions
      (pp. 258-286)

      Selected theories and perspectives support empowerment practice with families in distress. General system theory, the ecological perspective, the strengths perspective, and the theory of family well-being all contribute to this theoretical foundation. Each theory or perspective has been chosen because of connections to empowerment thinking and to its purpose. Each theoretical choice addresses the complexity of the phenomenon; no one theory, however, can account for all of the factors affecting families who are facing distressing events. Each theory applies directly to the person–environment configuration, the interrelatedness between individuals, the family, and the community. Empowerment thinking includes two other criteria:...

  10. Appendix A Cross-Cultural Counseling Competencies: A Conceptual Framework
    (pp. 287-290)
    Derald Wing Sue, Patricia Arredondo and Roderick J. McDavis
  11. APPENDIX B The Family Power Analysis
    (pp. 291-292)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 293-296)
  13. References
    (pp. 297-314)
  14. Index
    (pp. 315-324)