What is a Social Justice Approach to Advocacy Counselling?

Posted by: Priya Senroy on mars 18, 2014 12:42

This month is all about waiting for Spring and being surprised by digging myself out of the snow…again and again…almost to the point of being internally oppressed by winter and not taking a more proactive role in dealing with the world….. Resigning to the internal oppression and not be an advocate for my personal wellbeing….speaking of advocacy, I attended a lecture on the subject of looking at social justice approach to advocacy counselling- a new subject area for me except t few words… At the end of the lecture, I was fascinated by the take….so here is my understanding along with the experts…..

A social justice approach to advocacy counseling involves advocating for clients within their many social systems, modeling empowering behaviors by teaching clients how to access services, and encouraging clients to become advocates for themselves within their communities (Toporek, Gerstein, Fouad, Roysircar, Israel, 2005). The goal of advocacy counseling is to increase clients‟ feelings of self-empowerment and belongingness (Lewis & Bradley, 2000; Lewis et al., 2003). Specific techniques of advocacy counseling involve, but are not limited to, encouraging clients to join self-help groups; imposing class advocacy, which involves speaking out on clients‟ rights (Lee & Walz, 1998); and consulting with individuals, communities, and organizations. According to Kiselica (1999) and Lee (1999), counsellors who ascribe to a social justice model understand and validate their clients‟ reality and empower their clients to take a more active role in resolving their own issues.

For example; On an individual level:  A Client who has experienced sexual harassment in her worksite and would like to address it but does not know how, can be counselled to take the empowerment approach and the advocacy approach to start to raise awareness not only for herself but also for her peers. On a community/organizational level:  A counsellor observes a number of clients who have experienced similar barriers in the community. They can take the community collaboration and the systems advocacy approach to mobilize resources in the community to address those barriers.. On a societal level:  A counsellor works with clients who experience difficulty obtaining adequate parental leave can access public Information and critique social/political policy.

There is a plethora of information out there and some of the thoughts; the references shared in this blog can also be found in




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