An examination of the fall of social work from its original mission to aid and serve the underprivileged shows how a national faith in individualistic solutions to social problems led social workers to leave social services.
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Harry Specht was Dean and Professor of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley and published numerous books and articles on social welfare policy and social work practice. He was the recipient of the 1993 National Association of Social Workers' Presidential Award for Excellence in Social Work Education. Mark E. Courtney is assistant professor of social work at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He has written numerous articles and co-authored a forthcoming book on children in the welfare services.From Kirkus Reviews:
In no uncertain terms, social-welfare specialists Specht (UC- Berkeley) and Courtney (Univ. of Wisconsin) decry the trend toward private practice in their field over the last 50 years, demanding instead a return to community-based social programs. With the message that ``social workers should not be the secular priests in the church of individual repair; they should be the caretakers of the conscience of the community,'' the authors seek to repair the damage wrought by decades of increasing reliance on the techniques of psychotherapy. While admitting the appropriateness of individual treatment in certain circumstances, Specht and Courtney at the same time view social work as addressing entirely different, group-related needs, with the present hegemony of psychotherapy proscribing effective community work. Reviewing the history of a century of social work, the authors see its American origins as stemming from the efforts of pioneers Mary Richmond and Jane Addams to improve conditions for the disadvantaged through settlement houses like Chicago's Hull House and other means. Modern developments, however--in which an increasing percentage of social workers opt for the more lucrative treatment of middle-class clients--have resulted in fewer, less well-trained workers engaged in community service, leaving the more crucial needs arising from the ravages of poverty increasingly unmet. To counter this trend, a national system of community-based services is proposed, so that all may benefit more equally from what social workers have to offer. A radical proposal, as polemical as it is utopian, but useful in isolating a severe, festering problem in American society, one that will require strong medicine to heal. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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