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Use Intersectionality to Broaden Perspective as a Social Worker

Posted by Brian Spence on Aug 10, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Social Worker, Behavioral HealthSocial workers working with children use a variety of therapeutic strategies including play therapy to address many childhood issues ranging from depression, anxiety, anger and a host of social emotional disorders. They also work with families to address these issues and help them cope with these challenges.

Children are very innocent and extremely impressionable, so social workers have to navigate their turf very carefully and systematically. Intersectionality is one such critical lens through which they can approach their intervention strategies to establish rapport with young people, especially in initial stages.

What is Intersectionality?

Creating a good first impression is critical in developing rapport and trust with children and adolescents. A successful first meeting holds the potential of the support and services that the child will receive and whether the child will meet with the social worker again for continued therapy.

Intersectionality is a reality that we all have multiple identities that intersect to make us who we are. This concept enriches a social worker's practice in the following ways:

  • This perspective broadens a social worker's frame of mind and assists them in establishing trusting relationships.
  • They are able to understand how young people experience their world and how that impacts their interaction with others.
  • Keep an open mind and accept that children's behaviors and experiences are influenced by their ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class and abilities.
  • Helps develop patience in understanding the kids and prevents jumping to biased conclusions.
  • Consider cultural diversity, class differences and their identities in shaping their interactions.
  • Learn to practice patience and give ample time in developing rapport.

For example, a black female child might not be ready to open up to a white female social worker. She may outright clamp up and be perceived as very difficult or impossible to work with. The child may also engage in negative and unwanted behaviors. The social worker might question her abilities and lose confidence in this girl. This scenario is so multi-faceted and multi-layered but with the knowledge of intersectionality, things can be handled more systematically and with a positive outcome. The initial meetings can be facilitated in the presence of another adult that the child really trusts. This will help develop rapport between the child and the social worker which can lead to productive therapeutic interventions.

If you are a social worker, you will need to think critically, take all aspects of intersectionality into consideration before approaching the child and their family. You will need to broaden your perspective and learn to understand a delicate balance between the child's experiences and their reactions. Given, enough time and patience you will enrich your abilities in connecting with the child and offering them invaluable service.

If you are looking for work opportunities in the field of social work, please contact us to inquire about all available positions. We at Staffing Plus, Inc specialize in the quality placement of therapists and social workers.

And to learn more about this and related topics, visit the Behavioral Health section of our blog.


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Topics: Behavioral Health

Staffing Plus is a premier healthcare staffing firm that provides temporary, per diem, temp-to-hire and permanent Staffing Solutions for Behavioral Health, Education, and Healthcare settings. We have leveraged decades of experience to assist organizations with the challenges of managing their HR and Recruiting needs.