| Friday, 14 January 2005: 2:00 PM-3:45 PM|
|Hibiscus B (Hyatt Regency Miami)|
|Qualitative Research on Client Experiences of Treatment|
|Organizer:||Laura S Abrams, PhD, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities|
|Discussant:||Roy Ruckdeschel, PhD, St. Louis University|
|Listening to Juvenile Offenders: Can Residential Treatment Prevent Recidivism?|
Laura S Abrams, PhD
|Inner City Youth as Creators of Their Own Mental Health Program|
Nancy Feldman, PhD
|Workers and Clients: Different Visions of Preventive Services|
Michael Phillips, DSW, Annie Paumgarten, MSW
|The Lived Experience of Recovery from Severe Mental Illness|
Bill Bradshaw, PhD, David Roseborough, MSW, Marilyn Armour, PHD
Gathering knowledge about the influence and significance of direct practice interventions on clients’ lives is not only an ethical obligation but is increasingly required by funders. To date, social workers have relied mainly on quantitative methods to evaluate their practice. Qualitative evaluations have not been widely disseminated in the field. Yet one of the most valuable sources of knowledge about treatment effects can be accessed through client voices and experiences. Qualitative research explains not only “what works” but addresses how interventions and worker-client relationships affect clients’ lives and choices. The findings of qualitative research include rich descriptions and stories that often capture the nuances of participants’ relationships to social service programs, practitioners, and the recovery or healing process (Shamai, 2003). This symposium will bring together current research on clients’ experiences of treatment in a variety of direct practice settings. The four papers span of a range of client populations and treatment interventions yet share the goal of qualitatively interpreting clients’ viewpoints concerning their interactions with social service providers and programs.
In the first paper, Nancy Feldman explores clients’ process of acceptance of a voluntary group therapy program for inner-city high school students. From the youths’ perspectives, she highlights how this group intervention de-stigmatized mental health services and engaged the youth in empathetic and reciprocal relationships with each other. The second paper by Laura Abrams also focuses on services for young people, examining clients’ experiences at two different residential correctional for convicted male offenders. Unlike the process of connection uncovered by Feldman’s work, Abrams finds that most of these young people became lost in a web of adult-oriented therapeutic language and craved more practical skills experiences. The next two papers focus on adult clients. In an evaluation of child welfare preventative services, Michael Phillips and Leine Spohn-Gellert compare the perspectives of clients and practitioners concerning the purpose and goals of the services and the worker-client relationship. This research exposes some fundamental tensions that might undermine the process of cooperative goal setting. Lastly, a paper by Bill Bradshaw and David Roseborough offers a phenomenological perspective on clients’ experiences in the third year of recovery from serious and persistent mental illness. They find that overarching themes of later recovery include social isolation, reflection on the experience of illness, and conflict and ambivalence with social support networks. This information also speaks to the relationships that these clients form with their case managers.
Taken together, papers presented in this symposium will model the many ways that qualitative research can be used to capture the significance of voluntary and involuntary programs in the clients’ lives and to better understand the relationships between practitioners and clients. These authors offer insightful, cutting-edge research findings on how clients interpret their experiences of treatment. They also offer various methodological strategies for qualitative approaches to understanding the multi-layered dynamics of social work interventions and relationships.
Shamai, M. (2003). Therapeutic effects of qualitative research: Reconstructing the experience of treatment as a by-product of qualitative evaluation. Social Service Review, 77(3), 455-467.
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See more of Celebrating a Decade of SSWR (January 13 - 16, 2005)