Abstract: "Building a Bridge between Arab Culture and What You Learn at the University": Women Social Workers with Fathers at Arab Child-Parent Centers in Israel (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

222P "Building a Bridge between Arab Culture and What You Learn at the University": Women Social Workers with Fathers at Arab Child-Parent Centers in Israel

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Edith blit Cohen, phd, Head of Schwartz MA programs and the community sw track, Baltimore Hebrew University, jerusalem, Israel
Romain Jammal-Abboud, msw, Phd Candidate, Haifa University, Israel
Background and Purpose: Arab society in Israel is characterized as a society in transition from a traditional-collectivistic lifestyle to a modern-individualistic lifestyle. A particularly prominent area of cultural change is the family and child rearing. The state offers services at child-parent centers for parents of children who have been diagnosed as having "parenting disabilities". These centers in Arab society are mainly run by Arab women social workers who have been professionally socialized at Western universities. This cross-cultural encounter has implications for the social workers' therapeutic relationship with fathers. This article presents the experiences of Arab women social workers with fathers in the context of Arab-Israeli culture, and examines the meaning that these women attribute to the therapeutic encounter.
Method: The study was based on grounded theory. The participants were selected on the basis of purposive-criterion sampling. Interviews were conducted with 15 Arab women social workers, who were employed at nine child-parent centers and work with Arab fathers as part of their job.
Data were collected through in-depth, semi-structured interviews. The participants filled out a brief socio-demographic questionnaire, and responded to open questions. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded thematically. Units of meaning were identified, and similar utterances were grouped into themes.
Findings: All of the interviewees agreed that there is a conflict between professional social work training programs and the values of Arab culture. The conflict is evident in the encounter of Arab women social workers with Arab fathers in particular. The participants also agreed that the theories and approaches that they learned in the social work training program need to be adapted to the Arab population and to Arab fathers in particular. The extent to which the father is willing to accept values that differ from those of Arab culture, and the extent of the Arab social worker's experience in the field are ssential for designing a therapeutic program that connects academic learning with the values of Arab culture in a way that furthers treatment of fathers.
Conclusion and Implications: The social workers felt that their socialization process was similar to that of the fathers, because they belonged to the same culture of origin. However, they also felt that they were different from the fathers because of the socialization process that they had experienced in their academic training. The similarities and differences between the social workers and the fathers arouse a variety of behaviors and feelings that affect the therapeutic encounter. The findings highlight the importance of the role of higher education institutions in the process of training and socializing social workers. Academic institutions need to develop culturally sensitive training programs while creating a safe space to discuss cultural, gender, and political challenges. These findings can indicate directions for developing tools and skills that will help Arab social workers deal more effectively with the population of Arab fathers.