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Unfaithful Angels: How Social Work Has Abandoned its Mission [Paperback]

by Harry Specht, Mark E. Courtney
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 1, 1995 0028740866 978-0028740867
In this provocative examination of the fall of the profession of social work from its original mission to aid and serve the underprivileged, Harry Specht and Mark Courtney show how America's excessive trust in individualistic solutions to social problems have led to the abandonment of the poor in this country.

A large proportion of all certified social workers today have left the social services to enter private practice, thereby turning to the middle class -- those who can afford psychotherapy -- and away from the poor. As Specht and Courtney persuasively demonstrate, if social work continues to drift in this direction there is good reason to expect that the profession will be entirely engulfed by psychotherapy within the next twenty years, leaving a huge gap in the provision of social services traditionally filled by social workers. The authors examine the waste of public funds this trend occasions, as social workers educated with public money abandon community service in increasing numbers.

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The authors here contend that social workers in this country have largely abandoned the tenets of Jane Addams and Mary Richmond, early advocates of societal improvement through nurturance of community life and social case work. The majority of social workers today are trained to help build the individual's sense of self-esteem, using a psychotherapeutic approach with a primarily middle-class clientele and neglecting the underclass , the social dimension, and the potential for using community capacity to help sustain its members. The authors recommend public policy and fiscal support at federal, state, and county levels to redirect the social work profession toward a community-oriented social care system with the goal of a healthier society for all. The arguments and proposals of these two educators in the field will be of much interest to academics, professionals, and many general readers.
- Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Provocative, intelligent, and timely, Unfaithful Angels makes a case for a different kind of health care reform, that of our social work system. Specht and Courtney attack the current status of U.S. social workers, deploring the trend away from community service and the increasing emphasis on private practice psychotherapy. This, they feel, has left the poor without advocates and betrayed the original rationale of social work, which was primarily to direct those in need to appropriate resources. We need to move away from focusing on the individual and individual solutions and back to considering the collective, Specht and Courtney say, and they lay out a plan to do so for the twenty-first century. Theirs is a strong, lucid argument about what they make appear to be a necessary part of reforming the entire U.S. health care system. Policymakers, those concerned with our nation's increasing underclass, and, of course, those in the helping professions should think of it as a must-read. Mary Ellen Sullivan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (August 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028740866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028740867
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #508,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a new and interesting point of view October 19, 2008
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book offers an interesting critique of the profession of social work in America, but spends too much time delving into the history of social work without adding any new insights.

The authors believe social workers are wrongly entering into private clinical practice in order to make more money and to be their own bosses. Social workers now offer individualized treatment which closely resembles the therapy of psychologists. The authors think this is a mistake for two reasons. First, they believe that society's ills are caused by the social isolation of modern life; therefore individual therapy is not going to be effective in treating people who are already isolated. Second, they argue that it is the job of psychotherapists to help people with problems "intimately related to their selves," while social workers should be working to connect people to resources and support in their communities.

Though the authors attempt to solve these problems by proposing the creation of community service centers in every neighborhood, the guidelines they give to create these centers are vague and impractical (read: not funded) at best.

The book did not rock my world, but the idea that Americans are isolated and that social workers have an obligation to connect people to each other and to their communities makes sense.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing the point August 19, 2010
Format:Paperback
This book takes the stance that those looking to get an MSW are choosing to do so in order to do psychotherapy in private practive in order to "make lots of money." This is wrong for many reasons. While many students are looking to do counseling, it is certainly not a money-making venture. And MSW students can pursue many different avenues of work with this degree. Additionally, the community based centers are un-funded, closing, and not appreciated at the state level. For many people with MSW's burnout rate is extremely high due to high case loads and very low paying jobs. As anyone with an MSW knows - you are not likely to get rich anytime soon with this degree.

The fundamental problem is really about society valuing community based services enough to not only keep them open but pay better salaries to more people in order to have reasonable case loads that actually benefit both the social worker and the clients they serve.

Blaming the social worker's for what is truly a value-based policy issue is just wrong. I completely and entirely disagree with the author on this.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars September 20, 2005
Format:Paperback
Overall, this book brought a major problem of social work clearly into focus: the emergence of psychotherapy. Prior to reading the book, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do in my future profession, but now I've slightly altered that goal. This book won't be eye opening for everyone, but much of the material presented is very interesting and thought-provoking. I am glad to have read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good history January 5, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really good history of the social work profession. The book does a great job evaluating some tensions throughout the history of the profession, as well as how the two paths of social work diverged. The writing is a little dry, but that's to be expected with a text like this. Overall, I'd say if you are a social work practitioner, or are interested in the profession, this is the best history of the profession I've read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars angels January 23, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Exactly what I needed for school. Great resources that I think I will continue to use in my practice. Yay
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