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In this provocative examination of the fall of the profession of social work from its original mission to aid and serve the underprivileged, Harry Specht and Mark Courtney show how America's excessive trust in individualistic solutions to social problems have led to the abandonment of the poor in this country. A large proportion of all certified social workers today have left the social services to enter private practice, thereby turning to the middle class -- those who can afford psychotherapy -- and away from the poor. As Specht and Courtney persuasively demonstrate, if social work continues to drift in this direction there is good reason to expect that the profession will be entirely engulfed by psychotherapy within the next twenty years, leaving a huge gap in the provision of social services traditionally filled by social workers. The authors examine the waste of public funds this trend occasions, as social workers educated with public money abandon community service in increasing numbers.
Harry Specht was Dean and Professor of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley and published numerous books and articles on social welfare policy and social work practice. He was the recipient of the 1993 National Association of Social Workers' Presidential Award for Excellence in Social Work Education. Mark E. Courtney is assistant professor of social work at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He has written numerous articles and co-authored a forthcoming book on children in the welfare services.