Social Work Theories

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James Tucker

April 29, 2010

SSW – 502 Spring 2010

The field of social work is constantly being influenced by new theories and ideology that affects how social worker’s engage and interact with their clients. The new ideology of the theories can impact the values of social worker’s. The purpose of this paper is to explore and inform how the concepts of relationship or alliance with clients from the work of the RCT theorist, Judith Herman, and Paulo Freire has influenced my values and developing sense of social work practice.

As a student of social work I am taught to use a combination of theories in order to enhance my knowledge with helping clients. Some theories focus on understanding individuals on a micro level. There are some theories that focus on understanding individuals on an macro level, but from what I’ve learned from the newer theories is that it’s extremely important to understand individuals on all levels. Jean Baker Miller along with her colleagues influenced the field of psychology by developing the Relational Cultural Theory. The field of psychology is typically male dominated in every aspect, but finally the Relational Cultural Theory sled light on the development of females which have been lacking since the study of psychology began. The Relational Cultural Theory acknowledges the larger context of socio-cultural and the ways in which it assist in creating growth-fostering relationships. The Relational Cultural theory model focuses on the importance of connections in females lives. It is critical that females have continuing growth fostering relationships in their development. I believe that development of women have been forgotten in the previous years of psychology. In Judith Herman’s book “Trauma and Recovery” she explores how women have been oppressed for many years. Judith Herman informs and explores traumatic disorders such as: terror, child abuse, sexual abuse, and war trauma. Herman’s book “Trauma and Recovery” has a strong feminist perspective in which she speaks for the oppressed population. It was compelling for me to understand more about the psychology about chronic trauma victims versus one time trauma.

In the book, “Trauma and Recovery” Judith Herman explains the circumstances that create posttraumatic stress and then provides a means of recovery. The book is divided into two parts. In the first part of the book discuss the traumatic disorders and the second part of the book discusses the stages of recovery. Judith Herman explores the many implications of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder within individuals and then describes the overlapping stages of trauma recovery. Throughout the book Judith Herman describes the difficulty of telling the truth of suffering and the complementary difficulty of hearing the truth and helping those in pain to tell their stories.

As the book “Trauma and Recovery” progresses Judith Herman proposes that recovery typically follows a process during which the individual attains safety, goes through a period of remembrance and mourning, and reconnects with their environment. Judith Herman firmly established the fact that these stages are not fixed and predictable, but are greatly influenced by the individual’s surroundings, and it is extremely possible for these stages to happen at the same time. Throughout the book “Trauma and Recovery,” Herman made the concrete point that individual’s that heals from the horrific effects of trauma become empowered, and overcome the disconnection and the loss of empowerment that the trauma may have caused them.

I strongly believe that Herman’s book, “Trauma and Recovery” is a much needed tool for social workers, psychologist, and any other type of therapist. The way that Herman explored the depth of trauma and recovery will help social workers better assisted individuals that have suffered from traumatic events. I was...
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