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Transformative Social Work

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Alexis Ormonde

on 8 April 2014

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Transcript of Transformative Social Work

Wesal, Kemsha, Angilee, Omolara and Alexis
Debriefing of Simulation
Discussion Questions
Our intentions:
How we prepared:
Our environment
Service user profiles:
How would you as a new social worker feel going into a group counseling situation ?
The issues
"back door" of the food bank is shutting its doors
legitimate food bank is 35 minutes away
takes two bus transfers to get there
limited hours - Wednesday 12:00- 5:30 only
limited and inconsistent foods- Not always allergy free
community members ultimately enjoyed the convenience of the "back door" although flaws were still suggested
Task Centered, Systems Theory, Strengths Perspective and Anti-oppressive theory (A.O.P).
Structural issues
Transformative Social Work Practices
Winter 2013
A meeting room located within a co-op housing community
A firey group of neighbours disagrees as to whether their community should have its own food bank. A community social worker must try to make everyone feel heard, then must consider what's best for the whole community
A Food Bank Warehouse, located in the Islington and Lakeshore district, houses the central food supply and their administrative offices. Although this warehouse is not a distribution centre, over a period of time the community has used the "back door" of the warehouse to request food. It has been announced that the "back door" of the warehouse will be closing within a month. A meeting has been called to determine the needs of community members who have been accessing the warehouse.
Researched Food Banks
discussed possible scenarios
relayed ideas about conflict resolution strategies
As a group we decided that it was imperative to our success within this simulation to ensure that each person felt respected and heard regardless of opinion. We then would try to deconstruct negativity while simultaneously assisting the service users in goal setting.
The comforts of home
We wanted to create an environment that was both warm and welcoming in order to avoid unnecessary feelings of discomfort from the service users based on linear institutional aesthetics.
We brought:
Food and Water - Timbits and Apples to provide variety
Chair cushions - To provide physical comfort
Music - To provide background noise and to calm nerves
House plant - To provide a visual stimulus of a natural element
According to Healy (2005), this is a model aimed at ‘problems in living’ (p.112).

A few principles of Task Centered approach which was very important in the simulation
Seek mutual clarity with service users
Social workers- difficulty in the beginning to maximize clarity between us and the service users about the purpose and the intervention process until the end of simulation.
Task centered –

Healy (2005, p.127) “A major strength of task-centred practice is that it promotes clarity of thinking and action between service providers and service users. This limits the potential for confusion and frustration between service providers and service user.”
The Social Workers Obstacles:
Taking control of the group
respectful dialogue
overcoming language barriers
dealing with stigma attached to using a food bank
Do you think it would be beneficial to have a second social worker supporting you?
What were some of the assumptions you had while watching the simulation and did they impact the way you viewed the situation?
How do you deal with a situation so far out of your comfort zone?
Nancy- Rational, Single Mother, in school, 7 year old daughter – Food bank user

Lars- Ukrainian with language barrier, Twin infant children, Wife in Ukraine – Food bank user

Penny- Pillar of Housing community, 4 boys, Lived in complex for 6 years, has a female partner – Food bank User

Edie (pr. ED)- Elderly women , Thinks food bank is being abused, Lived in complex for a long time, Husbands name is Doug – Secret Food Bank user
Stigma on food bank use
Rigid communication skills between community members
language barriers
power dynamics
Healy (2005, p.146) A key strength of systems perspectives is that they provide a framework for understanding and responding to people in their environment.
Healy (2005), systemic analysis focuses on interactions within and across multiple ‘social’ systems, which can include the interpersonal system of family and friendship ties, neighbourhood system, organizational systems, social policy systems and social structural systems. (p.132)
Interactions between Social worker and organizational systems, social policy systems and social structural systems

Social workers experienced difficulty explaining role with their organization
Explaining the way social policy systems works and social structural systems
Interactions between the service users

They all lived in the community and knew each other well
They all were experiencing the same problem and wanted immediate solution
The interactions amongst ourselves ( Social workers)

Setting goals before simulation but did not transpire as we intended

Dominelli( cited in Healy 2005, p.179) defines anti oppressive practice as: A form of social work practice which addresses social divisions and structural inequalities in the work that is done with ‘clients’ (users) or workers.
Issues of Power
Social Worker:
Language - tone, articulation, clarity, vocabulary
Food Offerings - Hurtful or Helpful?
Environment- Serving whose comfort?
Assumptions- A service users worst nightmare
We all brought our unique personalities to the simulation and had the order been reversed, the simulation may have played out quite differently

As a group we did not pick up on important clues around body language that the service users were hinting toward
Penny playing with her phone
Lars shutting down
Our assumptions and judgements caused us to believe that there were underlying issues other than the service users’ main priority which in turn caused us to lose focus

To challenge the structural issues that the service users faced, we tried to work with them to figure out ways in either building a closer food bank or trying to find affordable transportation to and from the existing food bank

We all had to be careful of the language that we used, such as “you guys”, which was unprofessional
The Use of Self in Practice Context

Alexis- Alexis brought up the culture of respect but the service users were unclear of what it was. She had power, lost it and then took it back in a respectful way. Her tone and body language also made the service users feel comfortable. She stood up and greeted the service users, which made them feel welcome. She did a good job of bringing in confidentiality right at the beginning, she had a good tone of voice all the way through

Wesal- Wesal did a good job of mirroring the service user’s language- she repeated back what the service users said, particularly Penny .Wesal was empathetic towards the service users, however Penny felt scolded when Wesal asked her to let the other service users talk

Kemsha- Kemsha also did a good job mirroring the service user’s language, she offered them food and water, she was empathetic towards the service users, however she started to lose power

Angilee- continuing on from where Kemsha left off, I also did not know how to bring the group back together. I did not want to take power away from Nancy when she was writing on the board so I let her continue, however I let the group take over and I should have joined in

Lara- Lara did a good job of bringing the group back together, she stood up and took charge respectively and used her power in a positive way. The group dynamic shifted significantly. When Nancy said she was a busy mom and she did not have much time, Lara said that she understood where she was coming from and that she was also a busy mom which showed that she could relate to Nancy. Lara worked with the group to come up with possible solutions and by the end the group felt like they achieved something, and she tried to set up another meeting with the group while trying to work around their schedules. She also tried to give the service users strengths by discussing with them what they had done well
Strengths Perspective-
Healy (2005),” the strengths perspective focuses on the capacities and potentialities of service users. It concentrates on enabling individuals and communities to articulate, and work towards, their hopes for the future, rather than seeking to remedy the problems of the past or even the present” (p.152).
A few practice principles which were important:
Adopting an optimistic Attitude
Collaborate with the service user
Create a community
Healy(2005, p.166) A key strength of this approach is that it recognizes the power of optimism, on the part of both service worker and service user, for achieving significant improvements in the quality of service users’ lives.
Few practice Principles:
Critical reflection on self
Empowering service users
Working in partnership
Be more inclusive
Provide agenda , Organization- Use of chalkboard
Clarification of role
Greater hospitality - Serve food
Meaningful repetition
Focus on goal achievement and steps not "solutions"
Less chaos
More support for both service users and social worker
More attention paid to service user cues - Body language etc.
Proper pronunciation of names
More validation on service users strengths
Better use of AOP principles
Better monitoring of time
Welcoming environment
Validating the service users
Positive body language i.e. eye contact , smiles
Support of each other
intent to empower
Service Users:
Attitude , Dominance, Respect
Empowerment: Unifying for a common goal
What we would do differently
Self- Reflexivity
Self- Reflexivity
What we would continue to do
"People are coming in search of help and, in order to be considered eligible for much-needed resources, must disclose personal information and open their lives to the scrutiny of the social worker and the state. A social worker's position constantly signals that she is the expert with power to deny resources and make judgements." ( Lundy, 2004, Pp.114)
"Respect for individual worth and empowerment can be enhanced through the use of contracts. " (Rooney, 2009, P.p 32)
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