I’d like to kick off a discussion about the most important role of clinical social workers.
We seem to have been trying to approximate the “high end” professional characteristics of psychotherapists and to set ourselves apart from colleagues who do “less prestigious” case management or child welfare work. I’d like to suggest that we need to change our approach and get more focused on the mission of helping oppressed populations and changing social conditions that negatively impact them.
Stay with me.
Putting aside status-seeking within the imagined psychotherapy community, clinical social workers can view certain approaches—clinical, psychotherapeutic, mental-health, and behavioral-health among them—as a few of many that facilitate empowerment. Since the days (1990s) of Specht and Courtney, there has been a fresh wave of progressive practice theory and practice-related literature that supports this mission in ways that are friendly to clinical social work, therapy, counseling, and behavioral and mental health approaches. Critical social work is one new movement that fuses the micro and macro. It places clinical practice in the context of helping individuals identify and overcome internalized oppression. Bob Mullaly has developed an interesting practice approach; another is a framework created by Stanley Houston. You may want to check them out.