Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Valerie Gunter

Second Advisor

J. Beth Mabry

Third Advisor

John Anderson

Fourth Advisor

Barbara Mooney

Abstract

For the past 25 years, the human services field has experienced a paradigm shift regarding its practice ideologies, moving away from the deficit models of practice towards more partnership and strengths-based empowerment-oriented practice perspectives. Temple University’s Credential for Strengths-based Family Workers (SFW) is a nationally standardized professional training and credentialing program distinctively focused through a multi-faceted evaluation process on the enhancement and documentation of learned knowledge and skills used to empower human services professionals to assist an individual and/or family in their ability to set and reach their own goals. The objective of this research was to explore and better understand human services professionals’ experiences of the SFW/FDC program and how their use of specific learned knowledge and skills translated into real world practice, including the barriers and obstacles encountered and strategies used to overcome these complications, when implementing strengths-based empowerment-oriented practice.

My research was conducted from the epistemological perspective that reality is socially constructed by individuals who make meaning of their experiences. Taking a qualitative purposive methodology, I engaged in in-depth interviews with twenty-three (23) human services professionals who had received instruction and had been credentialed by the Temple University’s Credential for Strengths-based Family Worker (SFW/FDC) program as they embarked on their strengths-based empowerment-oriented practice implementation journey. My analysis of program participants’ emergent understandings resulted in the development of a practice perspective continuum which depicted the over-arching emerging themes of a strengths-based empowerment-oriented occupational ideology or Way of Life and the Toolbox perspective.

This research concluded that an authentic strengths-based empowerment-oriented practice ideology recognizes no barriers or obstacles to its practice. The knowledge generated from this inquiry affords new insights with which to inform policymakers, practitioners, and agencies involved in the human services arena as practice initiatives move towards more strengths-based empowerment-oriented frameworks.

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