I think empowerment is a fitting topic for this week as the Olympics have been constantly streaming through my T.V. While I love watching the events themselves, my favorite is hearing the athlete's stories and seeing the various obstacles they have faced in their lives. I'd like to think (as cheesy as it sounds) that I've felt a bit inspired and even empowered by all the athlete's accomplishments. As social worker's, empowerment is a ongoing theme throughout our work and important to helping client's reach their own goals. Here's a sample question to get us started:
Which of the following statements BEST defines empowerment?
A. The act of directly representing or defending others
B. The process of assisting individuals, families, groups, and communities to experience personal and social change, and develop influence toward improving their circumstances
C. An ethical principle that recognizes the rights and needs of client's to be free to make their own choices and decisions
D. Achieving the full development of one's potential
While many have more recently described empowerment as a "buzz" word, I think it still holds a large place in our work. Many of our client's come to us feeling powerless or out of control with their lives. They have spent many years telling themselves or hearing that they aren't good enough whether it is by their family, friends, or even society. However, through our work I think we can empower our client's by helping them develop the tools and coping skills to build the life they want. There are many ways to do this including, but not limited to, helping client's find the appropriate resources, validating how they feel, assisting them in developing positive relationships, and building upon the many strengths that they already have. The Social Work Dictionary defines empowerment as, "the process of helping individuals, families, groups, and communities increase their personal, interpersonal, socioeconomic, and political strength and develop influence toward improving their circumstances" (Barker, 2003).
While I've already given it away, the best answer here would be B. A would be a better fit if we were describing advocacy. With empowerment we aren't necessarily defending our client's as much as we are assisting them to become their own defenders and develop their own change. C is incorrect because empowerment isn't really viewed as an ethical principle, but rather a process of change. Lastly, D includes one aspect of empowerment, but it doesn't incorporate all the components that the test would be looking for.
Coming up next week: Free association
Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your LMSW exam? If you're preparing for the social work exam, check out our LMSW Study Materials. Learn more about our exam prep at the The Therapist Development Center home page.
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