Once the Cutting Edge: Social Worker to Legal Advocate and Back Again

  • Mary Ann Overcamp-Martini University of Nevada,Las Vegas

Abstract

Twenty years ago, the author began working as a legal advocate for a federally funded protection and advocacy program, investigating complaints of abuse and neglect in a state hospital. Shifting from a social worker to a legal advocate, then back again, brought much to reflect on in terms of advocacy, empowerment, and intervention practice. This narrative shares her reflections on those cutting edge days in mental health, a professional adventure intense with high and low points. Themes that the author draws on in social work education include professional stance, advocacy, empowerment, issues of organizational and management ethics, and legal intervention as a policy instrument. The ongoing need for legal advocacy to re-establish the legal floor of necessary services is underscored.

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