Monday, 13 May 2013

Elder Abuse: Anti-oppressive Perspective (Anish Alex MSW, RSW)

Elder Abuse: An Anti-oppressive Perspective  

Abuse of elderly is a social problem resulting from socially and structurally constructed negative identity. Studies illustrates that, one among five elderly adults experienced some kind of abuse in the forms of insulting, threats, violence or holding important information’s from them (MacKay-Barr & Csiernik, 2012).   Elder abuses and oppression are viewed as different levels of abuse spectrum from spousal abuse to a friend or formal paid giver abuse. I argue that elderly abuse is the end result of socially constructed old age identity, prejudice about ageing process and various interlocking oppressive factors including behaviors that exclude elderly adults (Calasanti, 2005; Overall, 2006). 
     Conceptualization of certain identities are not natural rather a socially construct one.  This kind of socially created identities are constructed, reinforced and established with intentionally through normative ideologies, relations and practices.  The biological deprivation related to age is universally considered as ‘old age’ of the person, so that elderly characteristics as being recognized as partial or incomplete participation of normative social demands. Which means that the material foundation of the identity of elderly person is socially acquired in terms of years lived in the society and how the person is responding to the societal norms. The assumptions related to aging are a “culturally-imbued” process (Overall, 2006 p.128).  I think these assumptions are misleading; in terms of the stages of life attainments and years lived in the society are socially constructed and misinterpreted. 
     A study conducted by MacKay-Barr & Csiernik (2012) explains that elders with low socio economic status and vulnerable physical and mental conditions are facing greater amount of risk abuse compared to healthy, affluent and educated group of their counterpart.   WHO defined elder abuse as “a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person” (as cited in Donovan & Regehr, 2010 p.175). Even though many of them are aware where to find assistance, a fraction of the cases are reported and a self disclosure is happening to friends than family members or public assistance. Elder population, those who are experiencing various kinds of abuse and neglect encounters significant barriers to disclosure.  These obstacles can include “diminished capacity to comprehend, ignorance of the law, cultural differences and lack of knowledge about abuse” (Donovan & Regehr, 2010 p.175).
     Those who are vulnerable condition in relation to health and other factors are facing social isolation and a greater amount of abuses. In a study, the participants responded that they fear about the abusers that if they report the abuse, there may be increase of abuse, institutionalization or abandonment (Walsh, Olson, Ploeg, Lohfeld & MacMillan, 2011). MacKay-Barr & Csiernik (2012) explains that abuse among elderly is perhaps the most complicated type of violence inside the family and society. 
    Various elderly abuses can be in the forms of physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, financial, abandonment, neglect or self neglect and/or combination of various abusive forms (WHO 2002c as cited in Donovan & Regehr, 2010). According to Wahl and Purdy (2002), due to various forms of elderly abuses “depression, fear, anxiety, unexplained physical injury, dehydration, lack of food, poor hygiene, pressure sores and missing money or personal items” are common (as cited in Donovan & Regehr, 2010 p.175).
     Vulnerability to abuse is a result of oppression experienced as the greatest consequences of “ableism”, “racism”, “ageism”, “disability”, “heterosexism”, “sexism”, “classism” and various intersectionality of oppressive factors (Walsh et al., 2011).    The voices of marginalized elderly population are rarely solicited.  Studies shows that the relationship between maltreatment of elders and various oppressive factors are contributing each other and that are not properly investigated.  According to Van Wormer (2005) oppression among elderly people described as “a system of dominance and subordination where elder population divided from the general population and categorize, dehumanized, discriminated and made visible in terms of their age and vulnerability” (as cited in Walsh et al., 2011). Analyzing and addressing various oppressive factors are not only limited as ageism rather it is associated with various intersecting consequences of oppression.
     Power imbalance creates greater level of oppression among marginalized elderly people.  Power creates high level of risk abuse.  It also can increase the vulnerability of elder abuse as the society perceived this population as “weaker, dependent or different”.  Researches related to elder abuse has not profoundly incorporated the analysis of power imbalance which control and contribute to older adult abuse.  Power plays different levels of controlling factors in elderly life.  It can be within the ongoing relationship who using “a pattern of coercive tactics” to maintain the control over the relationship or economically exploit. Oppression is a “salient issue” often resulting from the feeling of “powerlessness, risk of abuse, victims of help seeking behaviors and influences action taken by professionals” (Walsh et al., 2011 p. 18-19). 
     Oppression itself is considered as abusive.  There are various forms of oppression influences elder abuse.  Age places a vital role in various abusive scenarios.  Generally, elder population is stigmatized and excluded from the society on the basis of age.  Harbison (1999) explains that older adults have admiration of youth and devaluation of their peer groups (as cited in Walsh et al., 2011).  Maltreatment is a result of aging, rejection of elderly people from the society and the societal beliefs about older population as a burden.  Crichton (1999) noted that ageism took the power from elder adults and makes them more vulnerable to abuse (as cited in Walsh et al., 2011). 
    Ageism is the least reported factor while considering elderly studies.  Ageism as structurally oppressed factor influencing health and social service programs and social security initiatives compared to the provision of children and youth program (Walsh et al., 2011). Ageism is generally considered as a systematic stereotyping categorization and prejudice because they are old age (Calasanti, 2005).
          In practice, providing service for the seniors especially in the case of abuse in the larger community is a difficult one.  A major barrier of service is that the personal histories are a collective result of individual and structural oppressions surrounding aging. A protective social work approach almost the same model of child abuse reporting and response system model of domestic violence can control elder abuse to a great extent (MacKay-Barr & Csiernik, 2012). However there are controversies about the individual rights and self determination of the elderly in this context.  The capacity to resist abuse and understand the situation is again creating controversies while equalizing elderly to children in need of protection (Donovan & Regehr, 2010).
     There are certain limitations while working with elderly abuse.  The challenging factors can be presented as the misinterpretation of the abusive situation of the elder person when the abuser is very much cooperative and supportive. Another challenging factor in the field of elderly abuse includes various kinds of barriers like language, time and cognitive limitations. It is very important to understand the cognitive ability, physical health status and mental health about the client particularly to understand the capacity of the client to make a decision and report vulnerability or abuse. Abused and neglected elders are the marginalized population of the society requiring professional social assistance. Advocacy efforts can protect this disenfranchised group from the existing continued abuse. Professional assistance can ensure the abused and neglected elders right to self determination (Donovan & Regehr, 2010).
     Advocacy about abuses on behalf of elderly population in collaboration with other disciplines and community service organizations is an important role of social workers.  A promotion of community-wide intervention to prevent the maltreatment of elder people is also important. Social workers are expected to take the responsibility to get the clients on various legal matters in terms of human rights, decisional authority of well being, health and their financial matters (Schwiebert et al., 2000 as cited in Donovan & Regehr, 2010).
     As a social worker I think our research, theory and practice should focus more on successful ageing. There are various factors associated with biological ageing. Compared to other forms of oppression ageism defers in terms of its source of disadvantaged position is an unavoidable part of life (Calasanti, 2005). In addition our culture itself is ageist; as a result the society oppressed themselves and try to avoid ageing process (Overall, 2006).  Old age is a stage of human life, but materially reconstructed by the individual and the society. Due to the internalized oppression of ageism, the elder population feels shame about their life stage. 
     In this article I was trying to review ageism as a materially reconstructed identity by the society. Besides, I also tried to make an understanding about elderly abuse and its connection with various oppressive factors. A critical social work perspective is that the elderly abuses are potentially more powerful in conceptualizing the phenomena of risk of abuse.

“If old age is a social product, not a biological given, then aging is a potential site not only for oppression but also for liberation. Social and political reforms in the areas of employment, education, housing, health care, family structures, social welfare and architecture could redefine the societal context of aging, eliminate or at least reduce ageism, and support increasing rights, opportunities, and freedoms for people who have lived many years” (Overall, 2006 p. 134).

Calasanti, T. (2005). Ageism, Gravity, and Gender: Experiences of Aging Bodies. Generations, 29(3), 8-12.
Callan, M. J., Dawtry, R. J., & Olson, J. M. (2012). Justice Motive effects in Ageism: The effects of a Victim’s age on Observer Perceptions of Injustice and Punishment Judgments. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48, 1343-1349.
Donovan, K., & Regehr, C. (2010). Elder Abuse: Clinical, Ethical, and Legal Considerations in Social Work Practice. Clin Soc Work J, 38, 174-182.
Grenier, A. M., & Guberman, N. (2009). Creating and Sustaining Disadvantage: The Relevance of a Social Exclusion Framework. Health and Social Care in the Community, 17(2), 116-124.
Kaida, L., & Boyd, M. (2011). Poverty Variations among the Elderly: The Roles of Income Security Policies and Family Co-Residence. Canadian Journal on Aging, 30(1), 83-100.
MacKay-Barr, M., & Csiernik, R. (2012). An Exploration of Elder Abuse in a Rural Canadian Community. Critical Social Work, 13(1), 19-32.
O’Connor, D., Hall, M. I., & Donnelly, M. (2009). Assessing Capacity within a Context of Abuse or Neglect. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 21,156-169
Overall, C. (2006). Old Age and Ageism, Impairment and Ableism: Exploring the Conceptual and Material Connections. NWSA Journal, 18(1), 126-137.
Ross, M. M., MacLean, M. J., & Fisher, R. (2002). End-of-Life Care for Seniors: Public and Professional Awareness. Educational Gerontology, 28(5), 353-366. doi:10.1080/03601270290081335
Rozanova, J., Northcott, H. C., & McDaniel, S. A. (2006). Seniors and Portrayals of Intra-generational and Inter-generational Inequality in the Globe and Mail. Canadian Journal of Aging, 25(4), 373-386.
Sarma, S., Hawley, G., & Basu, K. (2009). Transitions in living arrangements of Canadian seniors: Findings from the NPHS longitudinal data. Social Science & Medicine, 68(6), 1106-1113. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.12.046
Walsh, C. A., Olson, J. L., Ploeg, J., Lohfeld, L., & MacMillan, H. L. (2011). Elder Abuse and Oppression: Voices of Marginalized Elders. Journal Of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 23(1), 17-42. doi:10.1080/08946566.2011.534705

Friday, 29 March 2013

Engaging Clients in Family and Child Service - Anish Alex MSW

Engaging Clients in Family and Child Service

Successfully engaging clients in the helping process is an important task for social work practitioners. There is a close association with the development of helping relationship and positive treatment results (Shrik & Karver, 2003, as cited in Gladstone et al., 2012). A study conducted at ‘Vancouver Family Preservation and Reunification Services’ by Gockel et al., (2008) found that successful social work interventions can create a nurturing environment for children in families. The study further says that healthy worker-client relationship can create a critical awareness about attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and values of both parties. This awareness would possibly help families to take initiatives for change and engage in the helping process successfully. I argue that the way families perceive the relationship with a worker in the family and child services is influencing and shaping the views of the family about the intervention and process. Families involved in the welfare system are often faced multiple challenges includes, “poverty”, “single parenthood”, “violence”, “substance abuse” and/or “mental and physical disabilities” (Gockel, 2008 p.98). These families are also facing a traumatic demoralizing due to the frequent experience of state intervention. Literatures (Russel, Haris, Gockel, & Jessel, 2004; Guterman, 2001; Kapp & Propp, 2002) articulates that due to the experience of frequent state intervention and fear of adverse consequences; the families are reluctant to cooperate with further services and can be defensive of providing information about the family and their parenting.
          The effectiveness of social work interventions are depends on the full and complete participation of the client. According to Dawson & Berry (2002) participation of the clients can be in two ways, “collaboration” and “compliance” (p.296). Collaboration consists of participation and agreement of the service plan, and compliances are the behaviour of the client such as maintaining the appointments, cooperate with agency and worker, and achieving tasks. Collaboration and compliance are very important in client engagement.
     As a primary level engaging, a “non judgemental acceptance” is significant, regardless the responds and initial attitude of the clients (Gockel et al., 2008, p.99). Dawson & Berry (2002) explains that assisting families to define their own problems and providing emotional support by actively pay attention to clients will help both parties to set their goals without difficulty. Responses of the worker towards the family’s experiences are also important. Each family is unique, and each parent responding to their children differently. Worker should recognize the uniqueness of the family and develop an individual responsive approach in a flexible manner. A strength-based intervention can contribute to successful engagement of clients in family and child services. Identify and appreciate the skills and efforts of the family as well as children. Recognize the parenting challenges and assist them to find own best possible solutions.  
          As a secondary engaging strategy, the worker should exhibit a “sense of empathy” and make clear understanding about the various interlocking problems facing by the clients. Client’s own previous personal, social and structural oppressive experience needs to be explored to establish a meaningful relationship with the client. Gockel et al., (2008) argues that client respect the worker’s capacity and expertise to deal with the issues. This attitude will positively influence the effectiveness of intervention. Being flexible and honest to the clients would possibly bring confidence among service users about the intervention.  Workers can build trust by targeting on the real problem rather than individual’s shortcomings. Also demonstrate integrity and openness; motivate clients to follow the action plan and recommendations.
     A democratic use of power in the intervention process will create immense changes in the worker-client relationship. Invite clients to all possible situations to participate in the decision making process. Make awareness about the entire process and empower them by providing all related information and options. Strega & Carriere (2009) argues that clients have the right to know about what is doing for them by the worker and how; in any case, worker should maintain transparency and provide ample opportunity to the clients to involve in the process without fear of worker’s power. Worker needs to respect the boundaries of the rights that clients have as a family and/or a parent. An autocratic approach can affect the confidence of the client and feel despair and powerlessness.
    As a strategic approach assist clients to enhance their existing skills and develop new skills. It will help them to manage their life situations and address their needs effectively. As Strega and Carriere (2009 p.19) explains, the practitioners should recognize the stress and pain of the client encountering “ongoing impacts of colonialism” and “capitalism” in their day-to-day life.  Study conducted by Gockel et al., (2008) illustrates that clients those who acquired knowledge and skills to effectively manage their daily life with the support of a worker demonstrates incredible change in their parenting capacity and problem solving skills.
     Skills and experience of the worker play a vital role in engaging clients in family and child services. Gladstone et al., (2012) found that families involved in the welfare system valued the skill and experience of the workers. Families assumed that experienced workers are able to understand diverse family problems. The same study correspondingly states that the experience is helping workers too, to understand and deal with diverse family problems in a better way. However, there is a relationship between the worker’s perception of family engagement and family’s insight of their own involvement in the helping process. Further understanding is that, client engagement is the process of setting goals collaboratively based on mutual acceptance and trust.
Davies, L. (2004). ‘The difference between child abuse and child protection could be you’: creating a community network of protective adults. Child Abuse Review, 13(6), 426-432. doi:10.1002/car.872
Dawson, K., & Berry, M. (2002). Engaging Families in Child Welfare Services: An Evidence-Based Approach to Best Practice. Child Welfare, 81(2), 293-317.
Dumbrill, G. C. (2006a). Parental experience of child protection intervention: A qualitative study. Child Abuse & Neglect, 30(1), 27-37. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2005.08.012
Dumbrill, G.C (2006b). Ontario’s child welfare transformation: another swing of the pendulum? Canadian Social Work Review. 23(1-2), 5-19.
Gladstone, J., Dumbrill, G., Leslie, B., Koster, A., Young, M., & Ismaila, A. (2012). Looking at engagement and outcome from the perspectives of child protection workers and parents. Children & Youth Services Review, 34(1), 112-118. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.09.003
Gockel, A., Russell, M., & Harris, B. (2008). Recreating Family: Parents Identify Worker-Client Relationships as Paramount in Family Preservation Programs. Child Welfare, 87(6), 91-113.
Magnuson, D., Patten, N., & Looysen, K. (2012). Negotiation as a style in child protection work. Child & Family Social Work, 17(3), 296-305. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2011.00780.x
Strega Susan and Jeannine Carrière (Eds.). (2009). Walking this path together: anti-racist and anti-oppressive child welfare practice. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishing.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Client’s Self-determination in Community Development. Anish Alex MSW

Client’s Self-determination in Community Development

     The right of making decision about a person’s own life is the cornerstone philosophy of social work profession. Client’s self-determination is defined as the capacity of an individual to make decision on their lives, actively play a vital role in the helping process and/or the right to lead a life according to their personal choices (Weick & Pope, 1988, as cited in Wong, 2000). This conviction has ascribed value to the social work profession through the official forms of code of ethics promoted by professional bodies (Furlong, 2003). In the community development sector, client self-determination is a collective right. It is the power and responsibility taken by the community for their own lives and development. It covers the perception of freedom in the socio-economic, political, cultural and the context of existence in which people live, socialize, raise families, participate in the community activities, vote, work, and relate to each other. The concept of community self-determination is the empowerment of the community to organize for social rights and justice for themselves and their peers.
     Furlong (2003) explains that even though client self-determination is the fundamental principle of the profession; well canvassed limitations are there to exercise it. When I was working as an outreach anti-poverty program coordinator for people living in poverty in a south Asian pluralistic community, I faced numerous challenges in the context of client self-determination. I had to implement various anti-poverty programs in a community which was totally different belief and value system from me in terms of religious and political ideology.  For instance, government introduced a provincial employment program as part of economic development of disadvantaged communities. The provincial government identified fifty high-risk neighbourhoods and planned to open meat processing and packing units in each community. The program was designed to support the unemployed members of the community. As I was involved in different stages of planning, I was convinced about the potential of the program to enhance the economic development of the local community within the ‘poverty pockets’ areas. I anticipated that the project would be helpful for my clients to earn good income. I was so proud to announce the project to the community with an assumption that I know their problems better and the project would be a solution for their problems. But majority in the community were reluctant to welcome the project because they believed that the meat processing and packing unit is not an appropriate place to work according to their religious belief. I became confused that the pilot projects were a success in other communities. After few weeks of indecision I realized that I should respect my client’s decision as they owned the right to decide what kind of work they want to do and how to lead their own life. I reported the decision of the community to the government.
     As a critical self reflection, I was trying to impose the mainstream social and political ideology in the form of employment program without considering the client’s capacity to determine their choice of life. I appreciate that the community possess their unique interpretations for their decision. However as Wong (2000) argued in his article it is a “moral constraint” up on workers.  Even though the community’s decision was contrary to my belief and genuine interest to support them; I should understand and respect the cultural and religious value system possessed by the community. I need to accept their decision just because it was their choice of employment (Wong, 2000).
     Moreover, my professional knowledge and the mainstream discourses about the needs of the community is not greater than the community’s unique experiences of their life situations (Wong, 2000).  As a helping professional I should constantly confront the oppressive factors which restricts the self-determination/collective right of my clients in the context of micro and macro level of practices, indeed, it will add more value in to community development interventions.  

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Child Welfare Policy and Child Protection Services in Canada (Anish Alex MSW, RSW)

Child Welfare Policy and Child Protection Services in Canada
     Since last two decades Canada being experienced softer and harder forms of neo-liberal economical impetus. Many of these reforms targeted social benefits and divided marginalised people into deserved and undeserved category (McKeen, 2006). At a large level, social policies are shaped by the exploration of dominant ideas about a social issue. Existing political views and the interest of the dominant policy community are predominantly influencing policy making.  The mainstream discourses for solutions of social problems and policy outcomes are increasingly underrepresented and narrow down the focus of social welfare in Canada. This paper is an attempt to analyze the  existing social policies related to child protection.
     The reforms of child welfare policy discourse started in 1990s. The framework of the current child welfare approaches were directed from the dominant discourse of ‘national children’s agenda’ initiatives. Since then, there have been many major changes happened in the mainstream social policy in child welfare sector. The national and global political influences and world economic pressure forces federal and provincial governments to control the social security and welfare programs and it reflects in child welfare system too (McKeen, 2006). Politics in Canada has a serious notion on key ideologies while restructuring child welfare policies. Ontario’s Child and Family service Act 1984, was developed on the principle of minimal family intervention with a view that children need to be protected in their own homes (Dumbrill, 2006b). The conceptual models of the mainstream society and policy community cleverly hold child welfare model with an assumption that the child welfare programs can effectively treat the assumed deficiencies of the families.
     Likewise, child protection in Canada is identified as a statutory regulation to establish state interference in families. Child protection is consistently investigative in terms of its provisions and legislative in terms of its nature (Davies, Krane, McKinnon, Rains, & Mastronardi, 2002). Policies and legislations related to child welfare are often shaped by various pressures from people and media. Dumbrill (2006b) refers that the public opinion reflects on media which influences policy discourses. The policy reforms and transformations have been made in child welfare system, oscillating between high-intervention and low intervention paradigm. Precisely, shift between state protection and family preservation is taking place based on public opinion and media responses over the time.
     Consequently, child risk assessment is always framed on the basis of government policies; a standardised form of assessment and procedures are following in Canada since last few decades. The risk assessment mandate of the current child protection practice is crop up in connection with individual responsibility of neo-liberal ideology. The right of the worker is given during their “mandate to investigate, monitor, assess and dispose” (Strega & Carriere, 2009 p.16) of child protection cases under the legal system. As a result child protection practice merely becomes a risk assessment model of bureaucratic approach. Apparently, child protection in Canada turn out as a mechanical social intervention with more focus on short term remedial recommendations and limited or no emphasis on holistic view of the problem (Strega & Carriere, 2009 p.20).  This process is not really supporting the family in terms of a long term “helping, healing and change”. The current risk assessment process reinforces the idea that once the risk is identified or properly addressed, the children are safe and prevented from future risk. It also broadens the false notion that child welfare means protection of the children rather than providing support to the children and family. 
     Despite these factors, current child welfare policy exposes a whitewashed compassionate face of its child protection services, with the basic assumption that individuals are in need of attention and healing not the oppressive structures (McKeen, 2006). It appears that the current system is not sufficiently addressing the social problem rather the policy agenda itself creates and maintain the social problems like poverty, social divisiveness and discrimination.  Indeed, the system oversimplifying the reality of life experiences and blaming the family that the collective social issues are the result of individual failure.
     Evidently, child welfare policy is relying on the normative Eurocentric, middle class ideology of motherhood, obscure in various facets of socially constructed identities and stereotypes. The reforms in the provincial child welfare legislation and proceduralized interventions compel workers to give more attention to mothers to make them over responsible for shielding children from abuses (Krane & Carlton, 2009).
     Incontestably, social policies and its implementation especially in the field of child welfare is a collective responsibility. Progressive child welfare discourse demands a fundamentally different approach for child protection mandate especially in the assessment and procedures. As Dumbrill (2006b) suggests a cooperative infrastructure of agency, family and community can make changes in child protection field. Policy makers should understand the dynamism of child welfare and strengthen the families rather than focusing structural aspects of bureaucratic child protection agencies. A “communication infrastructure” with   a collaboration and partnership of different community organizations can make up the existing service gaps in the child protection sector in Canada

Anish Alex MSW, RSW 

Collings, S., & Davies, L. (2008). For the Sake of Children': Making sense of children and childhood in the context of child protection. Journal Of Social Work Practice, 22(2), 181-193. doi:10.1080/02650530802099791
Davies, L. L., Krane, J. J., McKinnon, M. M., Rains, P. P., & Mastronardi, L. L. (2002). Beyond the state: conceptualizing protection in community settings. Social Work Education, 21(6), 623-633. doi:10.1080/0261547022000026346
Davies, L. (2004). ‘The difference between child abuse and child protection could be you’: creating a community network of protective adults. Child Abuse Review, 13(6), 426-432. doi:10.1002/car.872
Dumbrill, G. C. (2006a). Parental experience of child protection intervention: A qualitative study. Child Abuse & Neglect, 30(1), 27-37. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2005.08.012
Dumbrill, G.C (2006b). Ontario’s child welfare transformation: another swing of the pendulum? Canadian Social Work Review. 23(1-2), 5-19.
Magnuson, D., Patten, N., & Looysen, K. (2012). Negotiation as a style in child protection work. Child & Family Social Work, 17(3), 296-305. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2011.00780.x
McKeen, W. (2006). Diminishing the concept of social policy: The shifting conceptual ground of social policy debate in Canada. Critical Social Policy26(4), 865-887.
Strega Susan and Jeannine Carrière (Eds.). (2009). Walking this path together: anti-racist and anti-oppressive child welfare practice. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishing.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Western Social Work Practice in non-Western Countries (Anish Alex MSW, RSW)

Western Social Work Practice in non-Western Countries

The history of modern social work practice begins in the Western world in the 19th century. Due to the complexities associated with the social change occurred during the industrialization and urbanization period affected traditional patterns of family and community support systems in the western world. As a result, a modern organized form of support and care system has been developed to supplement and complement family and community care system called professional social work. The practice of institutionalized care system played key role in the new profession, developed from an Anglo-American standpoint of liberal, Judeo-Christian, capitalist values and philosophies. Western social work practice and philosophies face various challenges in a different ethno-cultural setting (Tsui & Yan, 2010) of non-western countries.
     The historical frameworks of settlement movements and the social care demands of urbanization in the west historically made significant structural and pragmatic changes in the social work profession and created more responsive to the local needs of Western countries (Gray & Fook, 2004). Precisely, this helping profession was originally developed to meet the needs of the ethno-cultural communities of the western industrialized society. The western version of this modern care profession traveled from west to fit in the local needs of other regions of the globe as part of charitable efforts of missionaries, British colonialism, globalization and open trade. This article attempts to examine the implications of western social work practices in non-Western countries with special focus on historical, cultural and social factors. I argue that western social work practice is not only fit for the culture it faces serious challenges to meet the unique requirements of isolated, remote, and culturally diverse population in other regions. Despite of the debate about the core mission of the social work practice, this profession could achieve a good reputation among western care world by stabilizing or controlling problems of the capitalist societies.

     Nagpaul, (1972) and  Midgley, (1981) viewed that many developing countries like Latin American countries, several Asian countries and much of African countries were not taken ‘social work’ in to a serious account as western world has viewing this profession. There has been a substantial discourse about the insignificance of educating and practicing western model of social work to resolve the social problems of developing countries (as cited in Payne, 1998).

     The indigenous thinking of social development started to question the dominance of Western social work education and its practices in non-Western countries. The profession is still trying to connect the western model of social development in to the socio-cultural, economical, historical and political landscape of other regions like Africa and Asia. Due to the huge gap between social development and economic development of many of these countries, western social work practice faces in-numerous challenges to allocate social and economic resources for the vulnerable population (Tsui & Yan, 2010). Also, the in-applicability and inappropriateness of western social work model in isolated, remote settings of developing countries raises the question of its relevance in diverse and complex societies. Apparently,  critical psycho-social assessments and targeted social work interventions in the local complex remote setting with a foreign ideology created new challenges to the profession (Gray & Fook, 2004). Liberal, Judeo-Christian and capitalist foundations of western social work education and practice not only struggles to meet the requirements of local people but also possibly not capable to build trust among people. Hence political and professional existence of professionals in the social work sector became a question in non-western countries (Tsui & Yan, 2010).

     A qualitative study conducted by Brydon (2011) found that implementation of western social work model and practice in non-western countries are arguably challenging. Brydon also cited that western social work is not a universal model of practice rather it is an indigenous model. There is little or no integration of wide range of worldviews and different discourses applicable to all regions. Western social work education primarily focusing on individual rights and client’s determination, but in most of the cases the professionals were dealing with communities where family and collective responsibility is predominantly valued than individuality (Nguyen 2005, as cited in Brydon, 2011).  

     A rethinking of “adapting, adjusting and modifying imported knowledge, theories, values, and philosophy” mainly from the Western work to fit in the local social context is unavoidable. However, an integration of imported knowledge base and cultural, social, economical, and political philosophies of the non-western communities can offer new solutions for this difficult situation (Tsui & Yan, 2010, p. 308). 
Revitalization of social work practice in these countries required a multi-dimensional approach includes local knowledge development, promotion of traditional healing models, and reinstating socio-cultural practices. 
In addition many social work professionals from most of these non-western regions were trained in western world. And the social work education in many non-Western countries are following either new or a second hand translation of Anglo-American textbooks and reference materials. It profoundly reproduce and reinforce the believes and values of a neoliberal-euro-centric-capitalist society. 
     Social work education and classrooms should create a space to incorporate the challenges of local social work practices in the context of regional social development. Moreover, a remedial approach from all levels may open some new platforms to help those regions; social work educators can raise the awareness about the roots of current social work paradigm in their country with a critical point of view. And help the new generation social workers towards the transformation of more localized social work practice. It is important to engage social work education with local practices, and teaching materials produces locally. However a successful social work intervention in non-western countries may requires an integration of western knowledge and local wisdom especially those who are practicing western social work. 
Anish Alex MSW

Brydon, K. (2011). Offering social work education in an offshore context: A case study of an Australian programme delivered in Singapore. International Social Work54(5), 681-699. Doi: 10.1177/0020872810382527

Gray, M & J. Fook. (2004). The quest for a universal social work: some issues and implications. Social Work Education. 23(5), 625-644. Doi: 10.1080/0261547042000252325

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