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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Social Work- Brief History

It is only fitting that my first post gives a brief history of social work.

I would argue that Social work has its roots in religion- the entire life of
Jesus and Mohamed and the holy characters from Holy books were devoted
largely to supporting the less privileged and the vulnerable - Feeding the
crowd, teaching the masses, healing the sick and even raising the dead. Many
years later, Missionaries also carried out work akin to social work -
setting up and running schools and hospitals and food centres.

I therefore find it hard to extricate Social work from organised religion
and charity work. That said, I admire what has now evolved over the years to
be a distinct field of professional study - Social Work. This is where to me
the similarity between missionary social work and professional social work
ends. In more and more countries, Social Work Practitioners are regulated by
statutory regulatory bodies, which ensure that registered Social Workers
practice safely and in line with the published ethics and code of
professional practice and conduct.

But religious practitioners have not evolved in this same way, whereas they
continue to undertake roles that can only be safely undertaken by adequately
trained and professionally registered practitioners. Religious practitioners
and individuals may be well intentioned when they take on the role of
Counsellors, but do they really know and adhere to the ethics and code of
practice that professionally trained and registered Counsellors abide by?

Is there is safe space where clients problems are safely addressed and a
regulated feedback mechanism to monitor and review progress, change and in
some cases a safety net to manage relapse and regression? Do the clients
even know what they are signing for when they engage the services of
religious practitioners?

Do the clients know how their confidential information is processed, used,
shared and stored? Simply put, what do these counsellors do with the
information their clients share with them in confidence?

Watch this space!

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