AOP Theory

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Anti-oppressive practice [AOP] and cognitive-behavioral therapy [CBT] are both theories that social workers can use to help their clients cope with the challenges that they face. AOP is a macro theory that emphasizes how social justice workers must work towards eliminating all forms of oppression, at every level, if they want to make positive, lasting change for individuals and communities. Since people are often affected by several forms of oppression, AOP theorists believe that only focusing on eradicating one form of oppression will not solve the complicated issues that many people face (Baines, 2011). Conversely, CBT is a micro theory that focuses on how dysfunctional thoughts and unproductive behaviours negatively affect a person’s mood.…show more content…
Sakamoto and Pitner (2005) write that AOP works towards eliminating the oppressions that negatively affect people’s lives by challenging the structural forces currently in place, which give some people more power than others. They also comment that social workers are never neutral professionals, and that it is their duty to initiate and further social movements, while also helping individual clients. Taking an AOP approach to social work helps to ensure that practitioners are pursuing social justice in their practice, which is an important aspect of social work that can be neglected when focusing solely on individual clients and their personal…show more content…
In addition, it is difficult to compare the research conducted on the integration of AOP into social work practice, since many researchers define AOP in differing ways or only explore certain aspects of it (Sakamoto & Pitner, 2005), such as intersectionality. Therefore, it may be challenging for practitioners and students to use this research to grasp a better understanding of the topic. Another limitation is that the term “anti-oppressive practice” may upset some social workers who do not necessarily use AOP to inform their practice because it implies that social workers not practicing with this orientation are not working towards social justice (Sakamoto & Pitner, 2005). Furthermore, because AOP is so focused towards creating social change on the macro level, it does not provide any solutions “to ‘immediate’ problems of individuals and families” (Sakamoto & Pitner, 2005). Another limitation is that because changing oppressive societal structures is a huge task for a group of professionals to accomplish, social workers using AOP in their practice can become discouraged that they are not able to make significant, lasting change (Sakamoto & Pitner, 2005). Lastly, AOP theorists believe that all forms of oppression need to be eradicated and that there is no
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