There are multiple sources of authority for practice by social workers. Authority from the client, authority from the profession and authority from the agency are but a few of these sources. Authority for social work practice is highly related to context. According to Schwaber Kerson (1994, p. 4), the following components will influence my authority for clinical practice:
Laws affecting agency service and social work practice.
Requirements and restrictions of funding sources.
Political climate, time and place for agency operation.
Agency/institution policies and rules of operation.
Values espoused and practiced in the organization.
These authorities for practice will guide my own work as a beginning practitioner. In addition to these authorities, various theories for social work will guide my work. One of these is cultural sensitivity and embracing diversity. Historically, social workers were viewed as helping those who were impoverished or minorities. However, new shifts in language and views about those in need of aid have transformed this kind of perspective to one that more closely relates to my personal one. As Moffatt (2001) explains this theoretical view, "The current language shifts its emphasis to the social worker's own æcultural sensitivity.' Instead of discussing client defects, the new discourse focuses on social work virtues û on its empathy, sensitivity, and courage." In this manner, the client is viewed from a more compassionate perspective that promotes the level of understanding for behavioral change and new growth to occur. This is similar to Rogerian or person-centered therapy, a positive approach wherein the practitioner aids the growth and development of the client through a compassionate, respectful, and empathetic framework.
Views of meaning and the social construction of values, ideas, and beliefs are an important theoretical framework for the beginning practitioner to underst...