This assessment analyses the social work intervention process from the point of view of an empowerment approach. It outlines the ways in which the empowerment approach can be beneficial to social work clients and professional social workers. This assessment summarises and explains the empowerment approach and how social workers can empower themselves before helping empower their clients, as well as strategies to assist social workers and clients to take their own control and to build up their strengths. This assessment discusses empowerment as a strengths-based perspective that analyses, helps and supports the development of instinctive abilities and thinking in a positive manner. It also discusses how conceptual framework is used to research and outline the possible courses of action or to present a preferred approach to an idea or thought to help empower both clients and social workers. There are different ways to empower clients and this assessment will take account of the different ways to approach empowerment of women, people with disabilities, and people with mental health issues, and how empowerment can benefit the clients and social workers attitudes, relationships etc. Social workers need to be aware and practice methods for empowerment effectively to be able to believe in their client’s strengths, resources, abilities, and dreams. This will incorporate a client to learn to see themselves as others see them. Clients have not recognised their strengths and it is up to the social worker to empower them and help their clients recognise their own skills and name them. Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social, educational, gender, or economic strength of individuals and communities.
There are many empowerment strategies but one empowerment strategy in particular is to assist marginalized people to create a process that enables individuals/groups to fully access personal/collective power, authority and influence, and to employ that strength when engaging with other people, institutions or society. Empowerment does not give people power, people already have plenty of power, in the wealth of their knowledge and motivation, to do their jobs magnificently. Empowerment is defined as letting this power out. It encourages people to gain the skills and knowledge that will allow them to overcome obstacles in life or work environment and ultimately, help them develop strengths within themselves or in the society. Empowerment as a strengths-based perspective can help and support the development of instinctive abilities and recognize differences in a positive manner. This can help a social workers increase a client’s capacity to learn to use his or her own systems usefully. Social workers simply empower others and that can also help a social worker empower themselves and that can then outline the reality experienced by both social workers and clients (Simon, 1990, p. 32). It can be a complex interaction between a given socio-material situation and the individual capacity to interpret and act that one finds the key to an empowerment worthy of its name. This presupposes two things. One that social workers have as a part of their education theoretical knowledge about organisational structures, and two, that they themselves have been empowered in ways that give them practical competence to act in relation to situations. Social workers need the competence to identify the complexities of interests and power relations in society. Empowerment is processes and outcomes whereby less powerful individuals and groups move to reduce differences in power relationships (Boehm and Staples, 2002).
Social workers need to be aware and practice methods for empowerment effectively to be able to believe in their client’s strengths, resources, abilities, and dreams. Clients learn to see themselves as others see them. Clients have not recognised their strengths and it is up to the social worker to empower them and help their clients recognise their own skills and name them. Clients who do not have a particular skill have the resources to learn them (Saleeby, 1997). Every individual, group, family, and community has strengths and social worker need to discover them simply because it is based on social worker’s belief in client’s capabilities and view clients as not having sources of knowledge and resources. Social workers best serve their clients by collaborating with them and establishing a partnership with the client. A social worker is not the sole expert but rather works “with” the client and not “for” them (Lee, J. 1994). The client is the expert who knows more about coping with his/her situation. Social workers need to have the right attitude and respect for their client’s ability and right to contribute to you, to other clients, to the agency, and to the community. Recognising the individuality of a client and respecting each client’s unique qualities, values and needs will help a social worker and client empower their relationship (Manning, 1998). It is critical that social workers empower themselves first. Clients look to social workers for role models. Promote the clients awareness of resources in families, institutions, and communities. This adds hope to clients. Promote changes in client’s mind-sets to help them see themselves as strong and capable of creating change. Clients seek to live up to their own sense of self and what others believe they can do. The empowerment approach is a process where the social worker engages in a set of activities with the client that aim to reduce the powerlessness that has been created by negative valuations based on the client’s situation.
It involves identification of the power blocks that contribute to the problem as well as the development and implementation of specific strategies aimed at either the reduction of the effects from indirect power blocks or the reduction of the operations of direct power blocks (Solomon, 1976). Empowerment can be described as having goals for example, the client sees himself as the agent of change; the client is able to use the knowledge and skills of others in furthering their own interest; the client is able to work in partnership with professionals; and that the client is open to developing the problem-solving skills to address their situation. When social workers ask the right questions that can help empower themselves and/or their clients. This can help a social worker and client to succeed as thinkers and question their strengths that can contribute to being empowered. Critically thinking, at any point in time, can go off in thousands of different directions. Thinking about empowering clients strengths is determined by what information is seeked. Strengths-based practices with clients and social workers in direct practice rely on their thinking to apply their practices, make informed decisions, and explain their assessments and decisions. Thinking about the client strengths means that you have the ability to look at a situation from an objective point of view. There are ways to interpret the data obtained by the social worker for example, through observation, interviews with clients or reading academic publications to be able to apply this to social work practice. A social worker will need to have an open mind and the ability to self-reflect and question their personal interpretations, assumptions, expectations and biases, and look at how these might influence assessment of a situation in question. Social workers should build up client strengths as well as their own, as a theory of clinical practice. This can promote self-respect through the development of unconditional self-acceptance; adopting a strength perspective that recognizes clients’ abilities to change and the expertise that they have about themselves.
This promotes a collaborative therapeutic relationship that respects and seeks out clients’ input and participation in every step of the process and empowers the client’s strengths to become active agents in the resolution of their problems; and acknowledging the impact of one’s social context on core beliefs etc. It has already been stated that empowerment is regarded as incorporated in the strengths approach. According to Saleeby (2002), empowerment indicates the intent to, and the process of, assisting individuals, groups, families and communities to discover and use the available resources and tools within and around them. Empowerment is therefore a helping process to assist people to use their strengths to overcome their challenges. Individual empowerment is a process of personal development that involves both a development of skills and abilities, and a more positive self-definition. People testify to a better feeling about themselves, a sense of more self-respect and self-esteem. A new self-confidence and a feeling of self efficacy is connected with a redefinition of the self, and the final results are closely linked with a real improvement in personal knowledge, abilities, skills, resources and life opportunities. A higher level of personal activity makes it possible for more effective inter-personal relations. Since self-perception is based on achievements in the real world, it then becomes a clear positive interaction between the development of self-confidence and reinforcement of personal ability. The ability to redefine and to act efficiently is the essence of individual empowerment. Social workers and clients can be powerless because of lacks in their private lives or their personalities. There are different forms of approaching empowerment such as empowerment of women, empowering people with disabilities, and empowerment in mental health programs etc. Social workers need to have the right attitudes when it comes to empowering a certain individual. Empowerment practice consists of thinking of and interacting with the person, and not labeling them or diagnosising the situation, respecting the person’s right to self-determine and be responsible to the ‘whole person,’ taking quality of life and environmental factors into account. Social workers focus on a strengths perspective rather than a deficit model for assessment and practice.
Respecting the diversity of skills and knowledge that clients bring to the relationship and letting go of being the ‘expert’ will accumulate trust and internal motivation to learn and direct their lives. This will then help in regards to respecting the client’s ability and right to contribute to consumers, to the agency, and to the community and to help recognize the individuality of the client, as well as respecting each person’s unique qualities, values, and needs. The relationship is most important in regards to empowering. Develop ‘power with and among’ rather than ‘power over’ in relationships between a client and social worker and allow time for a process of relationship to build and grow and see the relationship as ongoing, not time limited. A social workers role is to develop a client-driven model of care focused on the goals and values held by the client. Emphasize building connections through roles, involvement, and community to replace lost culture, history, and identity and develop opportunities for meaningful activities that help to build skills, knowledge, and reflexive thinking. Enhance the clients ability to transform their environment rather than adapt to it to be able to help them engage in taking risks, making decisions, and learning from them and emphasize information, education, and skill-building that increase self-efficacy. A social worker needs to involve the client and family members in decision-making roles in the relationship and within the organization as well.
This assessment concludes that when adopting an empowerment approach to s client or a professional social worker, the role of the social worker becomes crucial. The social worker ‘counsels’ or guides the client towards a broad interpretation of establishment. However, this assessment argues that the organisational context is central for an understanding of the empowerment practices used by social workers. The aim of this assessment is to demonstrate how; according to the perceptions of social workers factors can facilitate social workers to perceive the activation of their clients in a broad and empowering way. The empowerment approach in this assessment as a strengths-based perspective analyses, helps and supports the development of inheriting abilities and thinking in a positive manner and discusses how conceptual framework is used to research and outline the possible courses of action or to present a preferred approach to an idea or thought to help empower both clients and social workers. Social workers need to be aware and practice methods for empowerment effectively to be able to believe in their client’s strengths, resources, abilities, and dreams. Clients learn to see themselves as others see them. Clients have not recognised their strengths and it is up to the social worker to empower them and help their clients recognise their own skills and name them. Clients who do not have a particular skill have the resources to learn them (Saleeby, 1997). This summarises the social work intervention process from the point of view of an empowerment approach and it outlines the ways in which the empowerment approach can be beneficial to social work clients and professional social workers. This interpretation summarises and explains the empowerment approach and how social workers can empower themselves before helping empower their clients, as well as strategies to assist social workers and clients to take their own control and to build up their strengths.
Solomon, B.: Black Empowerment: Social Work in Oppressed Communities, New York 1976