UNFAITHFUL ANGELS by Harry Specht

UNFAITHFUL ANGELS

How Social Work Abandoned Its Mission
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In no uncertain terms, social-welfare specialists Specht (UC- Berkeley) and Courtney (Univ. of Wisconsin) decry the trend toward private practice in their field over the last 50 years, demanding instead a return to community-based social programs. With the message that ``social workers should not be the secular priests in the church of individual repair; they should be the caretakers of the conscience of the community,'' the authors seek to repair the damage wrought by decades of increasing reliance on the techniques of psychotherapy. While admitting the appropriateness of individual treatment in certain circumstances, Specht and Courtney at the same time view social work as addressing entirely different, group-related needs, with the present hegemony of psychotherapy proscribing effective community work. Reviewing the history of a century of social work, the authors see its American origins as stemming from the efforts of pioneers Mary Richmond and Jane Addams to improve conditions for the disadvantaged through settlement houses like Chicago's Hull House and other means. Modern developments, however--in which an increasing percentage of social workers opt for the more lucrative treatment of middle-class clients--have resulted in fewer, less well-trained workers engaged in community service, leaving the more crucial needs arising from the ravages of poverty increasingly unmet. To counter this trend, a national system of community-based services is proposed, so that all may benefit more equally from what social workers have to offer. A radical proposal, as polemical as it is utopian, but useful in isolating a severe, festering problem in American society, one that will require strong medicine to heal.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1993
ISBN: 0-02-930355-9
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993