Relational social work practice with combat veterans
Relational social work is a practice model rich in social constructivist, relational-cultural, feminist, and interpersonal theories. Despite theoretical variations, all these orientations share the foundational construct that human beings are inextricably embedded in their social environments and cannot be understood apart from the relational context they are immersed in. Relational social work adopts a client-centered non-pathological stance, which focuses on the healing nature of relationships through connection and co-creation of narratives and meaning. Combat veterans, like members of other diverse groups and subcultures, will present with complex cultural layers that are unique to their war experience. A general level of cultural competency and sensitivity is needed to view a combat veteran's symptoms, issues, and personal narrative, as an adaptation of that person to the environment or culture of war. The bidirectional process, mutuality, and respectful collaboration can help reframe traumatic events and assist the returning combatant in re-integrating into his prewar environment while affirming new constructs for survival and relational schemas. A review of the literature and a case illustration are presented in support of the importance of a relational social work perspective with this population.
Tyson, J. (2014)., Relational social work practice with combat veterans, in J. B. Rosenberger (ed.), Relational social work practice with diverse populations, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 217-238.
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