Empowerment and Strengths-Based Perspective: Social Work Essay

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Pages: 20

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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This is an aspect of client empowerment, where the client gains an enhanced sense of self by self-evaluating previous experiences and identifying the coping capacities and systems that he or she has previously employed so as to be able to draw upon them again if a positive outcome was achieved, or to be able to pursue alternative approaches if the outcomes were less favourable. Thus the client is empowered by enhancing their own decision-making capacities, based on their reflections of their own experiences. Utilizing a strengths-based approach aids — empowers — the client in identifying and evaluating their own modes and methods of past actions and in summonsing those resources they have used in the past.
When a ‘victim’ blames him or herself, there is a core imbalance in power relations. Firstly to see ones’ self as a victim — as opposed to a survivor — and not as a product of one’s environment, and then to blame one’s self for problems, issues or misfortune, overtly acquiesces to, and accepts, the dominant paradigm. Conscientization can overrule these negative self-perceptions, and the client can assume, at least some, personal responsibility for change through the enhancement of self-efficacy (Carr, 2003).

Self-efficacy, which pertains to the capacity for self-regulation and motivation, is likely to be negatively impacted by experiences of powerlessness and