Social Work with Specific Ethnic Groups
Awareness when working with ethnic groups
In conducting social work with specific ethnic groups, there are several things that need to be kept in mind in order to provide the best care for that person in need. When we think about social work with a specific ethnic group, the first thing we need to be aware of is the most up-to-date code of ethics for whatever agency you happen to be serving at the time. What is their code of ethics? Am I aware of it?
Am I abiding by it? Am I consistent with it? You need that information to begin with so that you are providing ethical care and ethical help within the confines of the group that you are serving. You must have the knowledge of the most up-to-date code of ethics as they pertain to the distribution of services to specific groups.
Next, if you’re doing social work with anybody, but with specific ethnic groups as well, you need to be aware of not only the typical human responses to stress, but also, perhaps, specific responses of specific ethnic groups related to stress. What are those typical responses of every human being, and, perhaps, the specific responses of a particular ethnic group to stress, to be aware of those so that you know what to expect based on not only the general population but the specific group that you’re seeking to help.
Next, you need to be aware of the policies and services offered by your agencies. Whatever agency you are serving, what are its policies and related to providing help for this ethnic group? What are the services offered to this particular ethnic group? You need to be aware of everything that’s at your disposal, not only within your agency, but in other agencies that may be connected to it so that you know the whole range of things that are available.
Being aware of and knowledgeable of the policies and the services offered is critical. You’ve got generic background information, code of ethics, typical human responses and specific responses to that ethnic group, policies and services offered, and then you need to have personal awareness. What is my ethnic background, and how is the way I was raised and my own thoughts and feelings, not only towards my own ethnicity, but to other ethnicities, going to come into play as I seek to provide help and care?
Self-awareness is critical, as well. Self-assessment might lead you to say, “Perhaps this is better done by someone else, and I need to take some time to work on myself here, and get myself in a position where I can provide the best possible care to people.” Through our own upbringing and other things, prejudices sometimes can be there, perhaps dormant, and they suddenly come to the surface. They definitely need to be dealt with.
Along with the background information, you need to be aware of yourself as well and your own upbringing and how your own ethnicity plays into how you help others. Then, next, do a realistic assessment of the social environment in which the problem has arisen. A realistic assessment.We want to emphasize that word there: Realistic assessment. I know we all want to think the best, and sometimes we look at a situation say it’s the worst.
Make a realistic assessment of the circumstances and situation that has led to the need for the intervention or the help. You’ve taken a look, then at the environment specific to the client and you, therefore, are able to facilitate a proper resolution to the problem. You’re going to get a proper resolution to the problem by having a realistic assessment of the social environment related to that particular person that you’re seeking to help.
Six, you need to look at the root causes of why there is going to be participation in the intervention. Is the person participating voluntarily or involuntarily in the services offered? What has led to this intervention and is the person participating voluntarily or involuntarily? Those are critical things to be aware of, because it will affect the way you try to provide that help and what you’re able to do, and perhaps it broadens or limits your options, especially if there’s an involuntary participation.
What led to the intervention and is the person participating voluntarily or involuntarily? Finally, number seven, identify the stresses and supports unique to that ethnic group that you’re seeking to help. What are the stresses unique to that ethnic group, but what are the supports perhaps that are also unique to that ethnic group.
Be willing to be an advocate, not just for one group but for all those in the community that are needing the support and help that is provided by the agency that you are serving. These are just basically seven things to be aware of, seven elements if you will, that prepare the worker to work with specific ethnic groups, but they’re obviously applicable across the board as well.
If you’re going to work with a specific ethnic group, be aware of the background situations. Be aware of yourself. Make a realistic assessment of the social environment. Why was the intervention called for? Is the person or group participating voluntarily or involuntarily? Then, finally, what are the stresses and supports unique to that group? Be willing to be an advocate for all those involved in the area.