This research was undertaken to deepen our knowledge about the impact of graduate social work education on the way child welfare caseworkers form and maintain relationships with their clients. A qualitative approach was chosen because it best illustrates the process by which education can impact on child welfare work.
Working Alliance Theory (Horvath and Luborsky, 1983) was used to provide a theoretical framework to understand the various components of the worker client relationship. In addition Transformational Learning Theory (Mezirow, 1991) and Experiential Learning Theory (Kolb, 1984) were used to provide a conceptual frame to understand the ways in which adults learn.
Fourteen child welfare workers from New York State were interviewed regarding their experiences with clients before and after their graduate education as well as what aspects of their education they found to be most salient. The results indicated that participants recognized the importance of the relationship with the client as opposed to simply seeing their job as simply a technical or procedural endeavor. Enhanced self-reflection and increased self-awareness was gained through class and field experiences. It enabled workers to differentiate their feelings from that of the client and act accordingly. In addition, workers were able to transfer learning from graduate classes and placements that were largely unrelated to child welfare.
The results of this study indicate that workers with an MSW recognize the importance of the worker client relationship as well as learned new skills that help manage this most difficult of relationships more effectively. Child welfare organizations should consider ways to recruit and retain these highly trained and valuable employees.
|School:||Adelphi University, School of Social Work|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Social work, Adult education|
|Keywords:||Child Welfare, Graduate Social Work, Worker Client Relationship|
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