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Strean, H.S. (1993). Clinical Social Work: An Evaluative Review. Psychoanal. Soc. Work, 1(1):5-23.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Social Work, 1(1):5-23

Clinical Social Work: An Evaluative Review

Herbert S. Strean, DSW

In 1971 clinical social workers formed the National Federation of Societies for Clinical Social Work. A great deal has transpired during these past twenty years as clinical social work has been striving to find its unique identity. It would appear timely to take a closer look at clinical social work's functioning. We need to assess its strengths, as well as its attachments to the external world. As we try to gain a better understanding of clinical social work in the present, we might be in a better position to offer recommendations about its future. To do this, we need to examine first some of clinical social work's historical roots.

Mary Richmond and “The Friendly Visitor”

When social work emerged as a profession in the United States, Canada, and England at about the turn of the twentieth century, its major goal was to “elevate the poor” (Richmond, 1917). Although allowing in theory that a “compassionate” attitude was necessary, social workers who dealt with the poor often took a harsh stance toward them (Hellenbrand, 1972).

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