Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study was undertaken to explore how seven social work therapists attend to client strengths, with an emphasis on embodied experience and embodied strengths where competency and resourcefulness are experienced. Besides asking questions about the obvious markers of a person's physical experience (hobbies, work, etc.), questions about the psychoanalytic concept of body-self and attributes of certain popularized mind/body approaches or techniques social work therapists may use were also posed. Workers, whose practices are in community mental health, inpatient psychiatry, medical and private practice settings, provided experience-near narrative data. Major findings were workers' belief in the clinical value of using a strengths perspective. Workers also offered a variety of experiences of, and reasons for, the barriers they commonly encounter to using this approach. In terms of embodied practice, however, most could not identify more than a few techniques they use currently. Techniques identified, while important, were under-articulated, such as "being present" with clients. (Other language used for this concept was "being grounded" and "mindful" in session, as well as the approach of using "experiential" treatment modalities.) One significant finding was that most workers identified a decreased use of embodied practice over the course of their careers. On a positive note, a significant finding was a belief that working in the clients' environment greatly facilitates and enhances attending to client strengths, particularly embodied strengths.


Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2008. iii, 154 p. Includes bibliographical references (p. 131-142)