The use of Self as a tool for culturally responsive change agency in social work practice: a qualitative phenomenological case study
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Many social service and healthcare professionals are often challenged in engaging in culturally appropriate practice, particularly when working with diverse populations that differ from their own (Rothman, 2008; Sue, 2010). Those who are the most vulnerable are the populations in which social workers provide service delivery (Davis, 2007; Gilgun & Abrams, 2002). Social workers who are not culturally competent may not provide equitable nor culturally relevant care (Davis, 1997; Heydt & Sherman, 2005; Lu, Lum & Chen, 2001; Sue, 1992, 2010). The purpose of this research study was to explore how social workers describe their use of self in urban-based practice settings. The traditions of phenomenology and case study provided the methodological framework. The theoretical frameworks of Cultural Competence and Multiculturalism were used, along with the supporting interpretive theories of self-reflexivity and social constructionism as paradigmatic underpinnings. The participants’ cases were utilized to investigate the overarching research question: What are social workers’ perceptions of their use of self as change agents? Six social workers participated in the study through purposeful, criterion, and snowball sampling. The data sources included in-depth, semi-structured interviews and self-reflexive field notes. Sampling tools consisted of an invitational email and a preliminary assessment instrument to help determine eligibility. The primary method of data analysis was transcendental phenomenology (Moustakas, 1994) for the in-depth interviews. Findings from the in-depth interviews suggests that social workers must first, be culturally aware of themselves and second, obtain relevant knowledge about the diverse populations they serve in order to provide culturally responsive service delivery.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Review of the literature -- Methodology -- Findings and results -- Conclusions and recommendations -- Appendix A. IRB approval letter -- Appendix B. Email invitation to participate in urban social work research study -- Appendix C. Pre-participant assessment instrument -- Appendix D. Interview protocol -- Appendix E. Consent for participation in a research study