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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The power in dialogue : exploring the experiences of involuntary adolescent clients Doyle, Janet Marie


Social Workers providing service to involuntary clients may be challenged with the ethical issues linked to such services. The primary ethical issues in working with involuntary clients are the infringement on self-determination and the use of paternalism and whether either is justified. Work with involuntary clients may also raise the issue of balancing the social worker's responsibilities to both the welfare of the individual and the welfare of the many. Another concern for social work is that the use of paternalistic interventions has the potential to move social work as a profession into a role of solely providing social control. The studies involving involuntary clients have focused on the success or lack of success these clients have achieved through treatment or intervention. The studies may not be helpful for workers struggling with the ethical issues involved in working with involuntary clients. This study explores the experiences of a small number of adolescents who self-identified as involuntary clients. Confidential interviews were conducted with the participants. The interview data was analyzed in a manner consistent with phenomenological study methods. The results indicate that the experience of being an involuntary adolescent client included feeling controlled and labelled. The experience also included feelings of power, acceptance, and validation. The results of this study provide information that social workers might reflect on before making decisions regarding the use of paternalistic interventions or before providing service to involuntary clients.

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