This chapter aims to disseminate theoretical and practical knowledge of practice using an empowerment and feminist perspective specifically when working with marginalized and oppressed forensic populations and in forensic settings. Forensic social work focuses on both victims and offenders, and strives to integrate the skills and knowledge of empowerment and feminist theory and practice with principles of social justice and human rights. The chapter discusses empowerment and feminist theories and their relevance to practice with forensic populations. It highlights a case example of group work with women, who were sexually abused, that was first presented in the 1990s and told from a strengths-based approach, but could very much be considered both a feminist and empowerment process of working. The chapter also highlights applying an empowerment approach to working with female and male prisoners in London.
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Forensic Social Work, 2nd Edition:Psychosocial and Legal Issues Across Diverse Populations and Settings
The growing public awareness of bias and discrimination and the disproportionate involvement of minority populations, especially based on race, class, and gender, have affected the social work profession with a call to fulfill its long-forgotten mission to respond and advocate for justice reform and health and public safety. Forensic social workers practice far and wide where issues of justice and fairness are found. This book emphasizes on the diversity of populations and settings, social workers would best serve their clients adding a forensic or legal lens to their practice. It targets the important and emerging practice specialization of forensic social work, a practice specialization that speaks to the heart, head, and hands (i.e., knowledge, values, and skills) of social work using a human rights and social justice approach integrated with a forensic lens. The book defines forensic social work to include not only a narrow group of people who are victims or convicted of crimes and subsequently involved in the juvenile justice and criminal justice settings, but broadly all the individuals and families involved with family and social services, education, child welfare, mental health, and behavioral health or other programs, in which they are affected by human rights and social justice issues, or federal and state laws and policies. Practitioners who read this book will learn and apply a human rights legal framework and social justice and empowerment theories to guide multilevel prevention, psychosocial assessments, and interventions with historically underserved individuals, families, and communities, especially using the life course systems power analysis strategy and family televisiting. The book fills a critical gap in the knowledge, values, and skills for human rights and social justice–focused social work education and training.
The Council on Social Work Education underscores that social workers should be educated to advance human rights, and social, economic, and environmental justice. This chapter explores empowerment theory and practice as a strategy that social workers can use to promote rights, justice, and well-being for individuals, families, and communities. Empowerment theory is geared toward elevating the rights and needs of individuals, groups, and communities that have been facing oppression throughout history. The history, central concepts, and themes of empowerment are multidimensional and are related to intrapersonal, interpersonal, community, and political domains. The close alliance of empowerment practice with human rights, oppression, and ecological systems theories has been a powerful force in assisting the population we commonly serve to embrace and liberate their personal and collective empowerment. Case examples of an individual and community are provided to illustrate how empowerment unfolds in the natural practice environment. Empowerment as a concept and practice serves an important role in understanding and achieving equality, rights, and justice for all. It also is an essential mechanism in achieving individual, family, group, and community well-being for people of all ages across the globe.