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Social worker and minister in welfare services : an exploratory study of inter-professional relationships. Skenfield, Alfreda

Abstract

This study was undertaken (a) to examine some areas where the activities of the social work profession and the ministry overlap, (b) to throw light on the attitudes of one profession toward the other and (c) to exemplify instances of collaboration. Because the subject is very large and extensive, limits were set by confining it to the relationships between social work agencies and ministers of Protestant denominations. After a brief discussion of the historical background of the subject, areas of common concern and areas of difference between the two disciplines are outlined. Examples are given of the role of the clergyman as an institutional chaplain, as a pastoral counsellor in a social agency and as a counsellor in his own parish. Other areas in which the roles of the clergyman and social worker show similarities are found in the institutional church, the church-sponsored social agency and the independent, religiously-oriented agency. The lay volunteer movement in both church and social work is given some attention. Research projects which relate to both fields, and special activities where there is active collaboration between social work and the ministry, are discussed. This section, which draws its material from Canada and the United States generally, concludes with some mention of the education of each profession in terms of what it teaches about the other. To gain information from social workers and ministers actually concerned with welfare matters in the Vancouver area, a questionnaire was sent out to both groups. The one to the clergy was organized by the Vancouver Council of Churches for a somewhat different purpose but its results were made available to the writer. As its focus was specifically on mental health, further opinions directly related to social work were secured by interviewing a small group of ministers. In the final chapter, the findings from the questions and from the literature are summarized. General implications are easier to draw than specific directions for particular problems or kinds of collaboration. The interest on the part of each profession in the work of the other is clear; there is also awareness of the contribution the other can make in meeting individual needs, and a desire for further understanding. The ministry is found to be making more use of the resources offered by social work agencies than vice versa. Some suggestions are made arising from these findings and a number of areas for further investigation outlined.

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