Social Science

Week 7: Feminist Theory and Empowerment Theory

Social workers often confront issues pertaining to marginalization, social inequality and inequities, disparities, discrimination, and deprivation of human rights with individuals, groups, and communities. Theories that directly address these issues include, but are not limited to, feminist theory and empowerment theory. The underlying values of these theories emphasize reducing the hierarchy or power differentials between groups (for example, between client and social worker or between residents and those who hold power in a community).

Oppression can occur within certain groups that have traditionally been marginalized. These groups might include women; racial minorities; those from low socioeconomic brackets; religious groups; and gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals. Feminist theory and empowerment theories outline principles, skills, behaviors, and interventions for social workers to engage social action that promotes empowerment, equality, and inclusion.

This week, you explore how feminist theory and empowerment theory are applicable in social work practice.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Summarize the major assumptions of feminist and empowerment theories
  • Relate the underlying principles and values of feminist and empowerment theories to the core values and ethical principles of the NASW Code of Ethics
  • Apply feminist and empowerment theories to social work practice
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of feminist and empowerment theories for social work practice

Photo Credit: Rawpixel/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (6th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Chapter 9: Empowerment Approach to Social Work Treatment (pp. 142–165)
Chapter 11: Feminist Theory and Social Work Practice (pp. 191–208)

National Association of Social Workers. (2017). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English

Document: Theory Into Practice: Four Social Work Case Studies (PDF)

Required Media

Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2014). Counseling and psychotherapy theories in context and practice [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.psychotherapy.net.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/stream/waldenu/video?vid=277

This week, watch the “Feminist Therapy” segment by clicking the applicable link under the “Chapters” tab.

Note: You will access this video from the Walden Library databases.

Laureate Education. (2017b). Theories knowledge check, part 2 [Interactive media]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Document: Theories Knowledge Check, Part 2 Transcript (PDF)

Discussion: Values Underlying Theory and the NASW Code of Ethics

Every profession has a code of ethics that guides professional behavior. In social work, the NASW Code of Ethics guides the behavior and decision-making practices of social workers. It is important that the theories social workers select in working with clients align, or are consistent, with the values and ethical principles identified in the NASW Code of Ethics.

In this Discussion, you align ethics and theory in relation to practice.

To prepare: Review the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics listed in the Learning Resources.

By Day 3

Post:

  • Select feminist theory or empowerment theory. Summarize the underlying principles and values of the theory in 3 to 4 brief sentences.
  • Analyze the extent to which the underlying principles and values of the theory are consistent with the NASW Code of Ethics in 3 to 4 brief sentences.
  • Briefly describe a client from your fieldwork experience and their presenting problem in 2 to 3 sentences using the theory you selected.
  • Identify one ethical standard from the NASW Code of Ethics that would apply to the client you described.
  • Explain how the theory is consistent with the work you did with the client and the ethical standard.
By Day 5

Respond to two colleagues:

  • Explain how theories help inform social work competencies related to engaging with diversity and difference and advancing human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice.

 

Assignment: Application of Feminist Theory to a Case Study

This week your theoretical orientation is feminist theory. You will use the same case study that you chose in Week 2. Use the “Dissecting a Theory and Its Application to a Case Study” worksheet to help you dissect the theory. You do not need to submit this handout. It is a tool for you to use to dissect the theory and then you can employ the information in the table to complete your assignment.

To upload your media to this Assignment, use the Kaltura Media option from the mashup tool drop-down menu. Refer to the Kaltura Media Uploader area in the course navigation menu for more information about how to upload media to the course.

By Day 7

Submit a Kaltura video of yourself discussing the client from the perspective of feminist theoryYour video should be no longer than 5 minutes.

  • Although this is a professional presentation, it is not a formal presentation as in a speech. Imagine that you are discussing your case with a group of peers in a meeting. To verbally present a case can be challenging—but it is also a skill for which practice can relieve anxiety and result in improvement. This will give you an opportunity to practice how to deliver material in a professional manner.
  • You can have notes in front of you to help you remember your points.
  • However, your video does need to be professional. In other words, dress professionally, maintain eye contact as if you were speaking in front of your colleagues, and finally be sure to record yourself in a room that is quiet and where no one interrupts you.

Your video presentation should include the following:

  • In 1 to 2 sentences, identify and describe the problem to be worked on in your chosen case study.
  • In 1 to 2 sentences, explain how feminist theory you are utilizing defines and explains the cause of the problem.
  • In 1 to 2 sentences, use feminist theory to describe the role of the social worker to facilitate change in the case study.
  • In the assessment phase, identify 2 assessment questions you will ask to explore what the client’s goals are and how they will get there.
    • Remember, feminist theory should be driving the assessment.
  • Describe two interventions to address the problem and explain how the clients will implement the interventions.
    • Remember, feminist theory should be driving the interventions.
  • In 2 to 3 sentences, discuss how you would evaluate if one of the interventions you identified is effective with the client.
  • Explain how, specifically, you will set the tone throughout your work with the client to reduce the hierarchical relationship and make it more collaborative.
  • Evaluate one strength and one limitation of feminist theory in working with the client.

Be sure to:

  • Identify and correctly reference the case study you have chosen.
  • Speak clearly.

Responses

ALTON MOORE RE: Discussion – Week 7COLLAPSE

Empowerment  Theory

Summary of Underlying Principles and Values

Most people as individuals usually know what their needs are better than anyone else. Although most people do not think about it, each one of us holds the power to act upon these needs but may not realize this during a crisis or in a difficult situation. The individual may need guidance from someone asking them the right questions that will help this realize and understand this fact. They need to understand that once they start acting on their needs and begin empowering themselves to improve their situations, this is not a short term process. As they continue through their life the empowering process should also be a part of their lives. It does not matter what background a person has, all of us have some knowledge and experience that can be used to empower ourselves to do better in difficult situations.

Consistency with the NASW Code of Ethics

As social workers using a theory such as the empowerment theory, we are helping the clients understand and address their problems therefore we are providing a service to these clients which is consistent with the NASW Code of Ethics. AS the clients progress during the use of the empowerment theory this in turn is helping them to overcome whatever social injustice they may have been facing which is also consistent with the NASW Code of Ethics. Some of these clients may not exactly feel worthy of treatment for whatever reasons but as social workers we are to treat them with dignity and as worthy people. As we do this hopefully the clients themselves with realize their worth as a person. This is also consistent with the NASW Code of Ethics.

Client
There was a male in his middle fifties who was suffering from mental issues which eventually led him to be placed in a Rehabilitation facility. He had lost his ability to work and had complications from hallucinations and some depression issues. All of this was compounded by the fact he had a history of refusing his medications on a regular basis. The ethical standard I would apply here is dignity and worth of a person. As time went by while dealing with this individual, he began to understand that his life was worth something even though he was having these issues. Eventually he began to take his medications until he was back on a regular schedule and in turn his whole situation began to improve. The frequency of the hallucinations decreased and his depression episodes were decreased.

YETUNDE ODEGBILE RE: Discussion – Week 7COLLAPSE

The feminist theory states the different situations women encounter, and it advocates for women and equality in the following areas: their nationality, gender, race, and sexual orientation (Turner,2017). Among the values upheld by Feminist theory is social change, advocacy, equality, and accountability, gender equality, and remove all forms of oppression.

According to the NASW code of ethics 2019, it states that  Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical ability.

The client from my field experience is a 28years old African American her name is Lisa; she has a history of substance abuse and Self-harm and depression. She has two children, and she tried getting jobs in several places, but she said places she applied they don’t give the feminine gender jobs.

One ethical standard violated is gender discrimination; in her situation, she is marginalized when she wants to get a job.

Feminist theory encourages me to speak out for women that their voices are not being heard, advocating for the feminine gender removing every form of marginalization and bring a change to society.

Reference

National Association of Social Workers. (2017). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English

Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (6th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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