The field of social work is constantly being influenced by new theories and ideology that affects how social worker’s engage and interact with their clients. The new ideology of the theories can impact the values of social worker’s. The purpose of this paper is to explore and inform how the concepts of relationship or alliance with clients from the work of the RCT theorist, Judith Herman, and Paulo Freire has influenced my values and developing sense of social work practice. As a student of social work I am taught to use a combination of theories in order to enhance my knowledge with helping clients.Some theories focus on understanding individuals on a micro level. There are some theories that focus on understanding individuals on an macro level, but from what I’ve learned from the newer theories is that it’s extremely important to understand individuals on all levels.
Jean Baker Miller along with her colleagues influenced the field of psychology by developing the Relational Cultural Theory. The field of psychology is typically male dominated in every aspect, but finally the Relational Cultural Theory sled light on the development of females which have been lacking since the study of psychology began.The Relational Cultural Theory acknowledges the larger context of socio-cultural and the ways in which it assist in creating growth-fostering relationships. The Relational Cultural theory model focuses on the importance of connections in females lives. It is critical that females have continuing growth fostering relationships in their development. I believe that development of women have been forgotten in the previous years of psychology.
In Judith Herman’s book “Trauma and Recovery” she explores how women have been oppressed for many years.Judith Herman informs and explores traumatic disorders such as: terror, child abuse, sexual abuse, and war trauma. Herman’s book “Trauma and Recovery” has a strong feminist perspective in which she speaks for the oppressed population. It was compelling for me to understand more about the psychology about chronic trauma victims versus one time trauma. In the book, “Trauma and Recovery” Judith Herman explains the circumstances that create posttraumatic stress and then provides a means of recovery.The book is divided into two parts.
In the first part of the book discuss the traumatic disorders and the second part of the book discusses the stages of recovery. Judith Herman explores the many implications of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder within individuals and then describes the overlapping stages of trauma recovery. Throughout the book Judith Herman describes the difficulty of telling the truth of suffering and the complementary difficulty of hearing the truth and helping those in pain to tell their stories.As the book “Trauma and Recovery” progresses Judith Herman proposes that recovery typically follows a process during which the individual attains safety, goes through a period of remembrance and mourning, and reconnects with their environment. Judith Herman firmly established the fact that these stages are not fixed and predictable, but are greatly influenced by the individual’s surroundings, and it is extremely possible for these stages to happen at the same time.
Throughout the book “Trauma and Recovery,” Herman made the concrete point that individual’s that heals from the horrific effects of trauma become empowered, and overcome the disconnection and the loss of empowerment that the trauma may have caused them. I strongly believe that Herman’s book, “Trauma and Recovery” is a much needed tool for social workers, psychologist, and any other type of therapist. The way that Herman explored the depth of trauma and recovery will help social workers better assisted individuals that have suffered from traumatic events.I was moved by the way Herman linked the experiences of oppressed women and soldiers who may have suffered from post traumatic stress. Judith Herman provides great insight for therapist for working with individuals that have become the victim of a traumatic event. Herman explains that the therapist should abstain from using their power over the patient to gratify their needs and does not take sides in the patient's inner conflict or try to direct the patient's life decisions.
The therapist is called upon to bear witness to a crime.As a student of social work I am fully aware that it’s critical for the therapist to not try to make life decisions for their clients. Social worker’s aren’t supposed to tell their clients what to do, but I believe that it is the responsibility of the social worker to assist in guiding their clients. Herman provided a great deal of essential information and cautions that therapist should be knowledgeable of when working with individuals that have suffered from traumatic experiences.
I learned that the recovery period has three stages, and that the stages can happen simultaneously.The stages are: the establishment of safety, remembrance and mourning, and reconnection with ordinary life. Judith Herman discussed many factors that are common in the recovery stage when working with victims of a traumatic event. The recovery factors includes: reconstruction, flooding, testimony, mourning traumatic loss, compensation fantasy, reconnection, etc. Traumatic counter-transference is a subject that Herman explored and warned therapist to avoid.
Herman acknowledges that no therapist can work with trauma alone, and that some therapist may want to take on the role as the rescuer.I realized that after reading about traumatic counter-transference that it is easy for a therapist to want to assume the role of the rescuer. I remember a few times when I work with some of my clients that I wanted to take on the role of the rescuer. It’s a part of human nature to want to protect someone against the horrendous feelings of helplessness.
Judith Herman does an incredible job pointing out this “rescuer” ideology, and explains the importance of a therapy contract.After reading the section of Herman’s book “Trauma and Recovery,” I further realized the significance of the therapy contract during the recovery stage of a traumatic event. Herman explains that the two most important guarantees of safety are the goals, rules, and boundaries of the therapy contract and the support system of the therapist. In the past I never created a therapy contract with my clients. After reading “Trauma and Recovery,” I gained knowledge to how a therapy contract can set a foundation and an outline of what the client can expect while engaging in therapy.
The therapy contract should emphasis on truth telling and full disclosure, cooperative nature of the work, preparation for repeated testing, disruption, and the rebuilding of trust, careful attention to the boundaries, and a decision on limits based on whether they empower the patient and foster a good working relationship. Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” is another influential piece of literature that has had a huge impact in the fields of psychology and social work.Throughout Freire’s work he emphasizes that the oppressed must acknowledge that they are being oppressed, and it’s essential for them to stand up for themselves. According to Freire: “It is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free their oppressors.
It is therefore essential that the oppressed wage the struggle to resolve the contradiction in which they are caught; and the contradiction will be resolved by the appearance of the new man: neither oppressor nor oppressed, but man in the process of liberation (p. 56).Freire’s work suggests that the oppressed populations need to establish liberation in order to impact the views of the oppressors. “The oppressed must see examples of the vulnerability of the oppressor so that a contrary conviction can begin to grow within them. As long as the oppressed remain unaware of the causes of their condition, they fatalistically ‘accept’ their exploitation (p.
64). ” Freire’s believes that educators and politicians will be able to influence the social system once the oppressed realize this goal.Freire emphasizes generosity, false categories, horizontal violence, and praxis in his work. As I conclude this journey of exploring the work of the Relational Cultural Theorist, Judith Herman, and Paulo Freire I can sum up the common theme of these theories which is empowering the oppressed. Paulo Freire describes the dialogical approach that is necessary for empowerment and humanization of both oppressor and oppressed.
The foundation of Paulo Freire work is that the oppressed people are essentially valid and must be included in their own liberation for any true change to take place.Judith Herman’s work has made a profound impact on my views of working with individuals that whose lives have been drastically changed due to a traumatic event. This book has influenced the way in which I engage with clients, and has opened my eyes to the traumatic obstacles that individuals overcome while recovering from a traumatic experience. From the readings of Paulo Freire and Judith Herman I gain knowledge of how therapist should behave.
I learned that social workers should have technical neutrality, and a non-judgmental stance while guiding the individual through therapy or the recovery process.Social workers cannot dictate what works best for each individual. "Human hands which work and, working, transform the world” is a statement that reflects social work. I’ve combined the information of the video lecture with Steve Rose through health as a human right, reading and analyzing Judith Herman’s “Trauma and Recovery,” and comprehending Freire theories to give new social workers, in my opinion, the skills to create true generosity and the tools need to help individuals through trauma. I believe that once you combine the knowledge of these theories you can create an ideology that will help you improves lives immensely.