Taking a strengths approach may or may not come easy for the practitioner working in the human services field. We are trained to use empowerment, to find the power and strength within the individual and to help them heal and grow from there. As a professor of social work I have encountered a challenge. Future social workers, as all practicing social workers are only human. They are part of groups and communities that have long histories of conflict. They bring with them belief systems, prejudice and biases that can interfere with their ability to see strengths in certain individuals and even within themselves. The challenge is to help them move beyond stereotypes, prejudice, and discriminatory behaviors towards accessing the strengths each person brings to the collective. Future helping professionals can play a key role in helping groups, communities, businesses, and organizations to strive and grow by helping them overcome their conflicts.
Globalisation has produced a 'risk society' that has increased structural inequalities within and between countries, and made the quality of life poorer for billions of children, women and men inhabiting planet Earth. Despite the doom and gloom, people have developed coping strategies, strengths and resiliences that minimise their vulnerabilities and enable them to survive. Resilience has been defined as the capacity to surmount adversity.
Poverty is a global problem. Despite its universal character and structural nature, the ways in which poverty is perceived, experienced and explained are all affected by gendered and local cultural views. Qualitative research on poverty is based on the assumption that the local, indigenous, lay knowledge is a necessary and complementary source of information for understanding and finding sustainable solutions to the problem. The uniqueness of this approach is that it enables reaching the voices of individuals while still being able to arrive at a level of generalization which can inform further research.
Social work is broad discipline, incorporating a wide range of different perspectives and theories such as sociology, psychology, social anthropology, political sciences and others. Theories drawn from these disciplines are important for the development of social work theory and practice, offering heterogeneous interpretative framework for social work theory building. They are ranging from micro, individually based approaches dealing with the questions of interaction, communication, or networks between individuals, towards macro approaches focusing on power relationships and social change by and for individuals, groups and communities and within social agencies (Staub-Bernasconi 2009).
Perception and what influences perception lies at the heart of a holistic approach. In assessing the effectiveness of an approach to counselling and psychotherapy, the question “what constitutes effectiveness and how is this seen” must be considered. This raises the question of the lens used for looking. In this presentation I will show how we live in the tiparadigm, which focuses on process, on an unfolding stream of awareness that recognizes both the subtle unseen forces of the universe as well as manifest reality. It sees the human being as an incarnating spirit infusing every aspect of the physical substance (body) with consciousness and mediated by soul/psyche.