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It is Time to Delink Psychodynamic Theory from the Definition of Clinical Social Work

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A Commentary to this article was published on 08 November 2017


The language used by the National Association of Social Workers in defining the practice of clinical social work explicitly states that psychodynamic theory (PT) is an intrinsic component of the field. While PT does remain an important influence within the field, the majority of practice theories, models and perspectives now employed by clinical social workers are not based on PT. Asserting that this one approach is somehow a required element of contemporary clinical social work practice in effect disenfranchises large segments of the profession. The NASW definitions of clinical social work and descriptions within its clinical social work credentials program should drop its present inclusion of PT as a required feature of practice. The epistemological privileging of one form of theoretical knowledge over another is unjustified, and reflects a socially unjust exercise of empowerment of one element of the profession over another.

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Correspondence to Bruce A. Thyer.

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Thyer, B.A. It is Time to Delink Psychodynamic Theory from the Definition of Clinical Social Work. Clin Soc Work J 45, 364–366 (2017).

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