Comparing Feminist and Choice Theories: Treatment and Social Reform at Odds?
The debate between social work treatment and social reform is centered on what is perceived to be two separate processes to affect change, one on an individual level and one on a system level. Social work treatment is intended to provide an atmosphere for individuals, couples, and families to explore options for self-change and selfgrowth, oftentimes adapting to their environments in order to lead a more fulfilling life, as defined by the client. Social reform, in general terms, is examining the possibilities of social reform and social change to better suit the needs of the individuals, couples, and families. This may involve, for example, community work, political advocacy work, or legislative work. However, this may also be addressed in contextualizing psychotherapy and raising awareness of social and political structures affecting clients. This perspective maintains that social reform can be addressed and affected through individual therapy, with the requirement of a politicized and contextualized practice (Finn & Jacobson, 2003). The basic conflict encountered is that social treatment is used to assist the client in adapting and altering themselves to their environment (Finn& Jacobson, 2003). Social reform, in contrast, is intended to affect change on a macro, larger level to alter or deconstruct its structure to better meet the needs of individuals, couples, families, or communities (Homan, 1998). Two theories which seem to typify the contrast between treatment and social reform are Feminist Theory and Choice Theory. At initial analysis, these two theories, and their accompanying practice therapies, appear to come from divergent sources; they appear to view human problems from dramatically different orientations. However, although their core origins may be different, the two theories can work together to promote both change in the individual as well as change in society.