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ADVOCACY - A MODE OF HELPING IN HUMAN SERVICES: THE IDENTIFICATION OF GENERALIZED ROLES AND FUNCTIONS OF ADVOCACY FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEVELOPING IMPLICATIONS FOR APPROPRIATE PROFESSIONAL TRAINING

BRENT WOODARD, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Abstract

Though the term advocacy often appears in popular usage, it is the author's contention that there is very little understanding about the process. The review of the literature reveals that the practice of advocacy has developed in isolation in many helping fields, mainly as a result of the inability of service providers to adequately serve poor clients. Also, the review indicates that no clear definition of the term exists in any field, rather, practice preceeded theory and most discussion focused on program specific issues. The literature reveals a need for training of professionals based on a clear definition. This study therefore addresses the need for clarity about the definition and concept of advocacy as a mode of helping while looking at generalizable roles and functions of advocates. Further, implications for training are identified. The author carefully inspects a Criminal Justice program to identify roles and functions and to determine their basic characteristics. A case study is presented describing four years in the life of this program. Several dimensions are discussed in each of the nodal periods. These include funding, control, staff, number of participants, length of participation, advocate supervision, and advocate roles and functions.^ The program was traced through its beginnings to a crisis period when it departed from its original goals. The author entered as a consultant and developed and implemented training for advocates. A six-month follow-up is presented. From inspection of this case combined with the review of the literature, the author identifies three underlying elements which strongly influence the effectiveness of advocate roles and functions. These three elements are: a particular view of the problem, which finds theoretical support in the work of William Ryan; a focus on the client's rights and entitlements; and, an activist orientation. A discussion of these elements is presented as the theoretical underpinnings of advocacy work. The author then presents his own formulation called "empowerment" which is suggested as an additional element that is mandatory for effective advocacy. Empowerment is the process whereby the client learns to advocate for him/her self, thus attaining fuller autonomy in self sufficiency. To illustrate the applicability across fields, the process is presented with a case example from family therapy. A definition of advocacy is offered which unifies all of the elements that are discussed. The presentation of advocacy with the empowerment component is a model which can be used across fields. The process is applicable to any number of situations, the content can be changed to fit particular needs. Further implications can be drawn from the model to training in higher education and consultation. Advocacy is shown to be a distinctive mode of helping that can be used by helping professionals regardless of the modality to which they subscribe. ^

Subject Area

School counseling

Recommended Citation

WOODARD, BRENT, "ADVOCACY - A MODE OF HELPING IN HUMAN SERVICES: THE IDENTIFICATION OF GENERALIZED ROLES AND FUNCTIONS OF ADVOCACY FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEVELOPING IMPLICATIONS FOR APPROPRIATE PROFESSIONAL TRAINING" (1980). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8019504.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI8019504

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