Empowerment Theory In Social Work

2183 Words 9 Pages
Empowerment Theory
Empowerment is the assistance of breaking down barriers individuals, groups and individuals are facing. Empowerment is defined by the Cornell Empowerment Group (1989) as the “intentional ongoing process centered in the local community, involving mutual respect, critical reflection, caring, and group participation, through which people lacking an equal share of all used resources gain greater access to and control over those resources” (as cited in Perkins, Douglas, Zimmerman, 1995). The function of empowerment theory is to work with individuals, groups, or communities to utilize the strengths they already have and to use them to make them stronger. The theory works to bring out individual’s self-esteem and self-actualization
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Rappaport (1987) believes that individual should be studied within their communities in order to gain an adequate understanding of the individual’s control, influence over themselves and their communities, and then finally, the influence that society has had on them. By observing the client within their environment, the social worker is able to identify the deficits within the community and to advocate for solutions with the client. Empowerment theory can be used on its own or can by used in conjunction with other theories and is essential to practice as it lends itself to developing direction to the practitioner, consistency in practice, suggests goals and ideas to treatment, and a hypothesis (Rappaport, 1987). It is important a social worker becomes comfortable and remains educated on the various theories and how they may work together to empower the client/client …show more content…
Empowerment theory address the inequalities between individual demographics some of which may include race, age, gender, and ethnicity (Robbins, et al., 2012). Through conducting an assessment, the social worker is able to address areas of oppression or discrimination. Social workers when utilizing empowerment theory must perform self-reflection on a regular basis to ensure they are not placing their beliefs or ideas upon the client, otherwise, they can be disempowering the client (Clark & Krupa, 2012). Social workers should not have the client as a spectator in their treatment. The client may not always make decisions the social workers would have made or even agreed with, but this is how they will learn they can make decisions for themselves with varying consequences. Many researchers argue that empowerment theory studies have been biased or as there is not a consistent definition of empowerment, there is inconsistency in services and how outcomes are documented (Robbins, et al., 2012). This may be a result of biased researchers or

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