Ethnicity and Social Work Practice with Individuals
A major part of social work practice is devoted to working with and on behalf of individual clients. Coming to a social worker, whether voluntarily or not, asking for help is influenced by cultural definitions and norms. Ethnic values can pervade the entire process from the decision to seek help to confidentiality and the definition of who is actually the client. The effectiveness of non-ethnic workers with ethnic persons depends upon their ability to understand the community and to offer services that are responsive and responsible to the culture. However, using a translator introduces a third person into the relationship that can affect client's responses. Trust, which is critical for the helper-client relationship, can only be developed when each perceives the other through a clear ethnic lens. This is essential for understanding the client's expectations and overcoming barriers that can impede the helping process.
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