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Rowe, C.E., Jr. (1981). Psychoanalytic Theory and Social Work Practice. Herbert S. Strean. New York: The Free Press, 1979. 212 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 68(3):451-452.

(1981). Psychoanalytic Review, 68(3):451-452


Psychoanalytic Theory and Social Work Practice. Herbert S. Strean. New York: The Free Press, 1979. 212 pp.

Review by:
Crayton E. Rowe, Jr.

The social work profession is indebted to Strean for bringing to it a systematic exposition of Freud's major discoveries and their applicability to social work practice. This important work is directed to both the social work student and the experienced practitioner.

The book begins with an historical account of the relationship of social work to psychoanalysis. This overview is followed by succinct summaries of major aspects of psychoanalytic theory of personality and therapeutic intervention. Strean then proceeds to show the use of psychoanalytic theory in actual social work practice. He not only includes making diagnostic assessments of the individual but also extends the dimensions of assessment to include the family, groups, organizations, communities, and finally to the total environment within which the patient lives. In each of these areas of assessment Dr. Strean gives numerous vignettes which highlight examples of psychoanalytic thinking in arriving at diagnostic impressions.

In the chapter on using psychoanalysis in social work intervention he applies concepts of transference, countertransference and resistance to one-to-one social work treatment, marital counseling, parent-child problems, family therapy, and group and community work. Again, case examples are presented to highlight clinical application of psychoanalytic concepts.

Strean's contribution is even more outstanding when one considers that he has taken on the task of integrating psychoanalytic concepts within a broad and eclectic definition of the social worker's function.

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