Posts Tagged ‘social work theory’

Once upon a time, I used to be a social worker. ‘Used to’ is probably the wrong word, since social work is more a frame of mind than anything else. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the value of the social work model, as it pertains to the climate fight. Social work is the stepchild of psychology, and a discipline that promotes what may seem like a simplistic approach, and yet is a very profound way to deal with human problems. From the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers:

A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living.‘  

Also, from Carolyn Saari – my teacher at Loyola University of Chicago, and one of the lead thinkers of social work theory, in her book, ‘The Environment: Its Role in Psychosocial Functioning and Psychotherapy‘:

Clinical social work, as a profession, has always believed in the importance of the environment and has regarded theories of the “person-in-situation” or the “person-environment configuration” as necessary in order to understand human needs . . .

Applied to the climate fight, this means looking at the environmental forces that perpetuate old behaviors and make it hard for people to adopt carbon neutral lifestyles. And no longer placing most of the responsibility on individuals. This is not about making excuses and absolving people from taking action. Rather, it is about looking first at all the factors in the physical, social, economic, and political environments that create and contribute to the problem. And second, exploring solutions in that environment to facilitate desired changes in behaviors.  

The social work model, gives meaning to how I, and the majority of Americans have been feeling and acting. It also validates social experiments such as the North Karelia Project. One of the most flagrant negative environmental factors is the situation created by sprawls. For more, read recent post in Daily Green on ‘Stop Sprawl to Protect the Climate and Save Money’.

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