Exploring “empowerment” in our daily practice

Ronald Labonte of  http://www.globalhealthequity.ca/ research unit of  the University of Ottawa Institute of Population Health, examines the concept of client empowerment when providing care  in Health Promotion & Empowerment: Practice Frameworks (1993)  He makes an important point in the context of “empowerment” where both client citizenship and support for personal agency through community development process’ are occurring along with the clients themselves needing the direct service and care. He notes:

The two pillars that allow service delivery to be empowering are, first, that is offered in a supportive, non-controlling way and, second, that is not the limit of the resources offered by the agency.  The combination of these two pillars has been referred to as “developmental casework.”  In contrast to more traditional forms of casework or case management, “developmental casework is developmental, with an explicit goal the development (empowerment) of the individual receiving the support, and the creation of links between these individuals.”  This approach builds towards community organizing and coalition advocacy – and hence the political elements of empowerment at the structural level remain explicitly…people have the right, here and now, to support in the face of difficulties… (pg 61 — chapter 3)

The practice frameworks outlined by Labonte, bridges well with the work on Structural Social work of Maurice Moreau http://www1.uwindsor.ca/criticalsocialwork/structural-social-work-a-moral-compass-for-ethics-in-practice, much less the core ethics and knowledge base of our profession.  I find Labonte’s indicators of an empowering dialogue with clients a useful benchmark for practice, see below


R Labonte Health promotion and empowerment practice frameworks version 3

Labonte delves into the dynamics of empowerment drawing on both practice and theory in this highly readable manuscript.  Consider… checking it out!




  1. Pingback: Building vibrant communities, examples of a work in progress | Social & Health Practice Ottawa

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