The normalizationsocial role valorization approach

This approach was initially developed by psychologists in the field of learning difficulties. It arrived in the United Kingdom from the United States in the early 1980s, and not from Scandinavia where it was first developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s (even though the Scandinavians spoke and published in English). (2 26»

Social role valorization accepts the deviancy approach up to the point at which the impact of labelling and segregation is said to be irreversible. Conversely, the focus of social role valorization is on reversing the devaluation of the disabled person and the group, while accepting that a disability exists. (27> The devalued existence can be reversed by the combined impact of the following:

• enabling those who have been segregated to live in the community by providing them with the opportunities to do so and the support they require for this purpose

• enhancing the competencies of the disabled person

• changing their public image, in part by their positive presence in ordinary settings in the community

• upgrading the state of the physical settings in which a disabled group is treated, lives, and works

• changing the derogatory language used in both professional and lay circles in describing people with disabilities.

Social role valorization is critical of professional attitudes, knowledge, and skills, including those of social workers. (28) Yet as a group social workers have within their repertoire more of the attitudes, knowledge, and skills required by this approach than any other mental health profession. (29,) Furthermore, social role valorization offers an interesting and comprehensive combination of the psychological and social dimensions.

In the United States, but much less so in the United Kingdom, social role valorization came into prominence within social work through the strengths model of social work.(30) To an extent the strength approach was influenced by the system/ecological framework within social work(3 32) which highlighted the interdependency of different elements of our psychosocial system. However, the model is unique in concentrating on the strengths which the person and his or her environment possess, and how these could be harnessed to solve the specific problem and lead to an improvement in the person's quality of life. Coming together with a focus on following people's ambitions (as long as these are within socially acceptable norms), this orientation has led to useful and positive outcomes in care management. (33>

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