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The social worker in parent group education : an examiniation of social workers' participation in parent education through the use of group methods Smith, Marjorie Vivien

Abstract

Among the methods that have been developed to help parents in their important task of raising mentally healthy children, parent group education is of particular interest to social workers. This thesis examines the essentials of social workers' participation in parent education through the use of group methods. It is based on the writer's training in social work and experience in adult education, and on research into the programmes of a number of social agencies, child guidance centres, children's treatment centres and hospitals, school social services and recreation centres. A range of examples was chosen to show the ways in which social workers were key figures in the parent education projects. The development of parent education on this continent is briefly outlined. Major principles of parent group education are stated, and an analysis is made of the knowledge and skills necessary for professional leadership in this field. It is observed that parent education principles correspond closely to those of social work itself. A good deal of the knowledge and skill required of parent education leaders is actually acquired through social work training. Furthermore, parent group education and social work strive toward the common objective of higher standards of mental health. It would seem, therefore, that social work agencies and social workers should be able to make significant contributions to parent education both directly, through sponsoring such programmes in their own agencies, and indirectly, through co-operating with other similarly-interested organizations and individuals. The programmes selected for study support this assumption. They illustrate the variety of settings in which social workers are participating in parent group education programmes, and reveal similarities and differences in approach and methods. Specific questions relating to principles and methods are proposed as requiring further experimentation and study. The thesis emphasizes the need for coordination and co-operation amongst all professional and lay groups interested in parent education as a method of promoting mental health, and suggests directions for development. It is concluded that social workers can and should participate in parent education programmes, with certain stipulations: before mass programmes are undertaken, careful experimentation on small projects is essential to augment the present limited knowledge of theory and practice, as well as to provide a basis for training workers.

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