The Knowledge Base Of Psychiatric Social Work – Does It Bestow Hope? A Review In Relation To Consumers’ ‘Recovery’ Critique (Abridged Version)

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Authors: Jonine Penrose-Wall &Ann Daniel, NSW

Year: 2004

Event: 2004 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Workforce Development & Training

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

ISBN: 0975765302

Abstract: Background:
Since 1998, the lay discourse by consumers, called here the ‘Recovery critique’ of mental health services is acknowledged as the new plank for mental health systems reform. Of ten key points, ‘Recovery’ is critical of professional dominance, which reportedly diminishes consumers’ hope for a positive future.

We aim to build relationship between consumers and social workers by making transparent, social work’s knowledge base on its conceptualisation and therapeutic use of ‘hope’. We compare the profession’s related discourses that imply hope with the lay discourse of Recovery, to see if social work ‘bestows’ hope. We ask if social work has responded to the Recovery critique formally in the literature.

We use qualitative systematic literature reviewing of international social work literature combined with discourse analysis. Data retrieval was from journals, thesis and text books from 1907 to 2004.

An existing review found 2 papers on ‘hope’ in social work literature from 1907-1994. We found 3 papers worldwide responding to recovery critique by social workers, and 10 papers and one text book on ‘hope’ since 1994 about social work and mental illness. Notwithstanding that other disciplines are published more on hope explicitly, social work still holds hope as central to the human condition, but this is not transparent to consumers.

Therapeutic concepts in the professions are not static and are contested within disciplines. Consumer consultants are a new ‘occupation’ within multidisciplinary mental health teams and may intuit or borrow from existing knowledges to advocate for change. Social work’s knowledge base seems significantly consistent with some of the consumers’ vision for reform.

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