I approach the practice of Social Work from a postmodern viewpoint: I reject the notion of one universal or objective truth and instead believe that each of us perceives and creates our own realities. It is my belief that it is this very act of perception that sparks creation for each client, and so by learning other ways of perceiving their own realities, clients are able to affect powerful change within themselves and their environments.
As a postmodernist, I recognize and attempt to mitigate the inherent inequality in power that traditionally exists within the worker-client relationships and within the interventions we use. It is not my role to dictate to clients what their truths are, or to direct them as to what avenues they should or should not take. Instead, I function as a facilitator, allowing those with whom I work to analyze their situation, and to create their own meaning. This is accomplished by discussing and discovering different viewpoints and ways of examining a situation, while also helping the client to see a myriad of options, empowering them to both create and navigate a decisive plan of action…or to choose no action at all, in a therapeutically safe environment, that respects the client’s autonomy, choice, identity, and culture.
From a Social Work perspective, I have chosen to study and practice modalities that I believe align with my philosophy: Solutions-Focused Brief Therapy to assist clients in pragmatic and immediate change without necessarily addressing feelings; Motivational Interviewing to assist clients in making (or not making) a decision and working to address ambivalence; and most recently this summer, Cognitive Behavior Therapy so that clients can understand how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are intertwined, how this nexus impacts their understanding of their reality, and how to make changes in order to meet their goals.
Those of us who subscribe to postmodernism don’t believe that we are the experts in the therapeutic relationship we have with our clients, rather we view them as experts on themselves and their situations. My goal in working with clients through this framework is to create a dialogue that will empower individuals to reframe their situations while enabling them to gain a deeper understanding of their own identity.
My philosophy stands counter to Determinists who believe that X will always cause Y, who look to single answers for why a person behaves the way they do, or why they are in the position that they find themselves currently. As a postmodernist I recognize (and appreciate) that human beings are incredibly complicated creatures. There are many variables that contribute to an individual’s choices and resulting behaviors. The social systems within which we reside, our economic realities, our cultural backgrounds, and our personal and familiar histories all have an impact on our behavior.