Social Work



Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Type of Paper/Work

Banded Dissertation


Catherine Marrs Fuchsel


This banded dissertation includes a range of literature surrounding language used within the field of social work. Language is the primary tool social workers use. The words social workers use can have several meanings or interpretations. The language used on agency paperwork, as well as conversations between social workers and clients, also impacts the services clients receive. In this banded dissertation, three distinct scholarly works on the subject of language in the social work profession are presented. In addition, implications for social work education and social work practice as well as a conceptual framework are also presented.

The first product is a scholarly personal narrative in which the author connects her own personal experiences and professional practice with the history of the social work profession. The author raises the question “Am I who the founding mothers of social work imagined when they began their work?” The author explores the values of the social work profession with a focus on social justice and language. The author also explores how she is personally and professionally working towards social justice within the historical perspective of the social work profession.

The second product is a qualitative study where 10 social workers from various practice settings were interviewed about how they define social justice and how they see language as part of this. The ecological perspective is used as a theoretical framework for the study. Three themes emerged including language is action, language is the client’s experience, and language is empowerment. Implications from the results show that when social workers use inclusive language, they can better serve their clients.

The third product is a peer-reviewed conference workshop for the Baccalaureate Program Directors conference that engaged attendees in thinking about language as social justice and as a skill that social workers use daily. Previous literature and research about language is presented. Information about language as part of social work practice is connected with social work education core competencies. Implications for person-first language, syllabus creation, and agency paperwork are presented.

This banded dissertation includes implications for social work practice and education. Using inclusive language on agency paperwork is important for the client experience. Trainings and workshops need to be available for current social workers. In addition, information about language can be included in social work courses and on course syllabi. The themes from this research show that language is the client’s experience, it is an action that social workers take, as well as a form of empowerment.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

Included in

Social Work Commons