Family Systems in Social Work Practice
Families are as unique as the individuals who form them. While you may utilize the same or similar techniques, while working with family systems (through the steps in the GIM and related practice skills), it is also important to recognize that each family has its own unique needs and experiences in the world. The empowerment perspective states that an essential aspect of working with individuals and families is to address their feelings of powerlessness and oppression. Empowerment is a process; and one part of that process is to gain an awareness of the oppressive structures evident in our society. Oppression, in the form of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia, can impact a family’s quality of life and ability to thrive. Empowerment practice includes discussing potential societal barriers that may have contributed to the family’s concerns.
For this Discussion, review this week’s Learning Resources. Select a diverse family system, such as a family with differences in sexual orientation, a family with differences in race or ethnicity, or a family with members who are managing a disability. Then, consider potential barriers they might encounter in society. Finally, think about how a social worker might address one of these barriers on an individual, family, organizational, group, or community level.
A brief description of the diverse family system you selected. Then explain a potential barrier they might encounter in society. Finally, explain one skill a social worker might use to address this barrier on an individual, family, organizational, group, or community level.
Please see the student exemplar that I have posted below as a guide when developing your main post this week.
The family system that I selected is a family with differences in race or ethnicity. There are a variety of factors that play a role when working with a family system with differences in race or ethnicity. It is a social worker’s “responsibility to recognize the importance of difference, including that of color, race, and culture, when working with diverse populations” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 387). These differences “directly affect life experiences and access to resources and power” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 387). One potential barrier that this family system may encounter in society is being viewed as inadequate or inferior.
Important skills a social worker may use to address this barrier is engagement and empathy. It is important to be able to connect with and understand clients on many different levels. In this case, it is crucial to engage with a client and understand the diversities they may face and learn about their culture. As a social worker, “empathizing with a family and its situation is important” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 388). Overall, being aware of a client’s differences and engaging with them would be beneficial for a social worker.
Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hull, G. H., Jr. (2015). Understanding generalist practice (6th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.