Racial, Cultural, Gender Identity and Structural Racism/Oppression in Clinical Social Work Practice


Social work practice, knowledge and skills and Clinical Interventions

Name and Qualifications of the Presenter:

Joan M. Adams, LCSW-R, is a licensed clinical social worker in New York, who has worked in various social work, mental health and higher education institutions as direct practitioner, supervisor and program/clinic Director. Ms. Adams is certified in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, the supervision of the therapeutic process and in analytic group therapy. She maintains a private practice of psychotherapy and clinical supervision for social workers.

Throughout her social work career Ms. Adams has also developed and taught professional development courses and workshops for social workers, psychologists, educators and others on the multiple aspects of social identity; social and historical context of race, culture class and gender; and systems of social oppression in the professional’s work. She founded and continues to coordinate a training and consulting service on anti-racism and multiculturalism for a large social service agency. She is an independent trainer and consultant on racial equity and multiculturalism.

Description of Course:

Session amounts may vary based on the individual needs of the organization.

For individuals, please contact us for more information.

Exploring the meaning of the constructs of race, culture and gender; the meaning and impact of racial, cultural and gender identity; and the impact of racism and sexism in clinical social work practice. It will address the relevance of the social worker’s and the client’s racial, cultural, gender identity and the meaning and experience of that identity in the context of structural racism and sexism.

Examining the relevance of similarities and differences between the worker and the client and between the worker and other staff. The course will provide a non-shaming, non-blaming space for participants to explore case material in the interest of understanding the interaction between social identities, systems of oppression and the bio-psycho-social concerns the client brings to the clinical situation. Participants will learn to integrate an anti-oppression perspective into assessment, diagnosis, engagement and ongoing clinical work, whatever the clinical model.

Teaching Methods:

The course is geared to adult learners and will use verbal, written and/or PowerPoint presentation of material by the instructor; interactive large group discussion of concepts and of participants’ practice; small group work involving experiential exercises, sharing of personal social identity experiences, sharing of work experiences with instructor facilitated feedback, and responses to material presented; reading assignments and discussion of the reading; handouts of resources and tools.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will understand the concepts of race, culture and gender identity as they apply in the clinical social work interaction.
  • Participants will examine and understand affectively the meaning and experience of their own racial, cultural and gender identity and its impact on their work with clients and with other providers.
  • Participants will understand the manifestations of structural racism, sexism and other power inequities in their lives and in the lives of their clients.
  • Participants will develop an understanding of the clients’ multiple social identities, especially race, culture and gender, and how those are manifest in the internal, inter-personal and functional life of the client.
  • Participants will examine the impact of structural racism, sexism and other power inequities in the lives of their clients.
  • Participants will learn to use an anti-oppressive perspective in working with clients around the issues bringing them to the social work setting and in more fully developing clients’ psychological, interpersonal and functional selves.

Length of course:

The course will provide 6 contact hours: two sessions that are each three hours long.