The Personal Is Political: Integrating Clinical Social Work Practice through Narrative Therapy


Social Work

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper


Lance Peterson


Social justice has been identified as the core organizing principle of the social work profession. As social workers increasingly move into clinical practice, there is a more pronounced need to develop concrete practice methods consistent with this professed value. Literature suggests that narrative therapy theoretically contributes to social justice by deconstructing dominant discourses and by empowering people to author their own life stories and connect with one another to address social problems. This study seeks to understand the extent to which narrative therapy is aligned with a feminist social justice framework as it is currently practiced. The study offers qualitative data organized into themes and subthemes from six Licensed Clinical Social Workers who participated in semi-structured interviews on their practice of narrative therapy in clinical social work. The research indicated both strengths and challenges of using narrative practices to integrate social justice into clinical work. Findings suggest clinical social workers must value and engage in systems change efforts in order to incorporate social justice into practice. Social workers can utilize narrative therapy to further integrate the social work profession, but further developments in the field of narrative practice are needed to affect social transformation in the course of clinical work.


clinical social work, social justice, narrative therapy

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.