The sprawling thicket: Knowledge and specialisation in forensic social work

Authors

  • Gail Green,

    Corresponding author
    1. St John of God Counselling Centre in Fremantle
      Gail Green, BSW, Dip Ed. is currently Counsellor at St John of God Counselling Centre in Fremantle. Email: gaildg@iinet.net.au
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  • Joanne Thorpe,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Justice with Victim Support Services
      Joanne Thorpe, BA, BSW, MA, is currently working in the Department of Justice with Victim Support Services. Email: jthorpe1@iinet.net.au
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  • Myrean Traupmann

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Justice in Western Australia
      Myrean Traupmann, BA (Psychology), BSW, MAASW, works as a Prison Counsellor for the Department of Justice in Western Australia. Email: mytraupmann@optusnet.com.au
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Gail Green, BSW, Dip Ed. is currently Counsellor at St John of God Counselling Centre in Fremantle. Email: gaildg@iinet.net.au

Joanne Thorpe, BA, BSW, MA, is currently working in the Department of Justice with Victim Support Services. Email: jthorpe1@iinet.net.au

Myrean Traupmann, BA (Psychology), BSW, MAASW, works as a Prison Counsellor for the Department of Justice in Western Australia. Email: mytraupmann@optusnet.com.au

Abstract

This exploratory study uses a post-modern framework to investigate and map aspects of the (re)emerging occupational area of forensic social work, broadly defined as practice, which in any manner may be related to legal issues and litigation, both criminal and civil. The study is the result of each author asking questions about the nature of our professional experience in the field and then testing our thoughts against those of other social workers in the field. Our aim was to initiate discussion about the nature of forensic social work and to question whether our work called upon skills and knowledge that differed from those of social workers in other (specialised) fields. We used a cooperative inquiry method and significant themes and issues were raised with agreement for much of the discussion. The most lively dialogue centred upon the benefit or disadvantage of specialisation, with tensions evident around the perceived elitism some participants attached to the specialist title. The initial investigation raised several issues for further investigation.

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