School for Social Work
Social work with immigrants, Social workers-Attitudes, Cultural competence, Collective behavior, Immigrant children-Mental health services, Parenting-Psychological aspects, Hospital, Collectivist
This pilot study was undertaken to assess how social workers in western hospitals respond to a vignette about a collectivist child and the child's family. America has many immigrant populations that often have different values and ethics from mainstream America. Social workers encounter these individuals in their work and it is important that social workers are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to respond to the client's needs. Using a snowball sampling method, 19 participants responded to a mixed method online survey. The participants were predominately Caucasian, ranged in ages from 26- 60 years of age, had their MSW, were working in western hospitals, and had at least 2 years post graduation experience. The participants were given a vignette that modeled a 1st generation immigrant teenager and a family from a collectivist worldview. No inferencing was possible due to the small sample size and the method of data collection. When presented with a collectivist child and family 50% of the social work participants noted that they were concerned with the child and family's culture and how it related to the child's current struggles. This unexpectedly low percentage is concerning 2 because when clinicians do not consider the child's cultural background the social workers are missing a significant portion of the child's history and experience. This lack of consideration indicates that the social workers are not meeting the requirements of "The Indicators for the Achievement of the NASW Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice" which proposes that social worker's should have a 'heightened consciousness' (NASW, 2007). An unexpected but somewhat similar finding is that only 6 (about 1/3 of the sample) of the participants noted safety concerns as an immediate issue which is startling because the child had two notable self-harm behaviors (self mutilation and disordered eating).
Cary, Theresa J., "A social worker's dilemma : does experience make a difference? : how biases and judgements affect social worker's assessments of collectivist culture immigrant families : a project based upon an independent investigation" (2010). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.