I approach the study of Social Work from a postmodern viewpoint. 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.
Postmodernists work to mitigate the inherent inequality in power that traditionally exists within the social worker-client relationships by being culturally informed. It is not my role to dictate to clients what their truths are or direct them as to what avenue they should take. Instead, I function as a facilitator, allowing those with whom I work to analyze their situation and 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 navigate a more decisive plan of action.
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.
The postmodernist philosophy rejects the notion that theories of behavior are unbiased or value-free. We must recognize that the theories we use to understand the world around us are more often than not a reflection of the prevailing views of the time in which they were created and popularized. Thus, they must always remain suspect and open for criticism.
A natural extension of my postmodernist viewpoint is my rejection of the Medical Model of Disability and my acceptance of the Social Model of Disability, which removes from the framework the notion that someone who is disabled is inherently broken and in needing of repair. It is society as a whole that must learn to adapt and be inclusive of those who are different.