Toward a new understanding of relationship in social work: purposeful, profeminist mentoring of males by male social workers.

Author: Timothy White

White, Timothy, 2015 Toward a new understanding of relationship in social work: purposeful, profeminist mentoring of males by male social workers., Flinders University, School of Social and Policy Studies

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This paper asks the question: Can mentoring be considered a principled approach within relationship-based practice, as a means of assisting males in their day to day engagement with everyday life? The focus is on male social workers utilising their life experience to facilitate improved functioning in their male clients, within the rapidly changing socioeconomic landscape of today’s globalised world. Emphasis is also placed on an identified need to work with male clients within a framework that addresses the power imbalance between the genders. The study sought the views of social workers who are members of the Australian Association of Social Workers. The key question of mentoring sat within further questions on gendered practice and sought to elicit responses on the state of gender values in Australian social work today. The methodology of profeminism was applied.

A mixed methods survey of eleven questions (n = 39, [male = 21, female = 18]) showed noticeable support for mentoring of male clients by male social workers (74.3%), with males indicating greater support than females. Overall, throughout the survey, men reported a greater need and interest, than women, for new knowledge and skill to apply when working with male clients. Data from the study cohort indicated caution about males being better placed to work with males, matching male social workers with male clients, or adopting policies of positive discrimination to employ male social workers. Here respondents deferred to the tried and tested base of Biestekian (1957) principles as a guide. The inclusion of compulsory training and development in men’s/gender studies, within university social work courses, was rated as high (80.6%). The study contributes towards a new appreciation of the mentoring of male clients by male social workers as a principled component within relationship-based practice.

Keywords: Relationship-based practice, profeminism, male mentoring, male social workers

Subject: Social Work thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2015
School: School of Social and Policy Studies
Supervisor: Dr Keith Miller