Life story work and social work practice : a case study with ex-prisoners labelled as having an intellectual disability

Ellem, Kathleen & Wilson, Jill (2010) Life story work and social work practice : a case study with ex-prisoners labelled as having an intellectual disability. Australian Social Work, 63(1), pp. 67-82.

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In common with other professions social workers have the power to articulate certain ‘‘truths’’ about the people who use their services (Hare Mustin, 1994). These knowledge statements about people, often situated in case files may become the only background information of the lived experience for people with disability (Gillman, Swain, & Heyman, 1997). Social workers need to develop interviewing, assessment and recording practices that give precedent to the worldview of service users, if they are to truly understand and respond effectively to people's lives (Bigby, 2007). One such way of doing this is by adopting a life story approach to working with vulnerable people, which can provide a holistic stance to a person's social reality (Ortiz, 1985). This article outlines the use of this approach in research with Queensland ex-prisoners who were labelled as having an intellectual disability. By explaining the process used by the first author (hereafter known as the researcher), the methodological findings of this study illustrate how life story work can contribute to social work practice.

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3 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 74791
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: life story, intellectual disability, ex-prisoners, communication skills
DOI: 10.1080/03124070903464285
ISSN: 1447-0748
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIAL WORK (160700) > Social Work not elsewhere classified (160799)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Australian Association of Social Workers
Copyright Statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Australian Social Work on 05 Mar 2010, available online at:
Deposited On: 06 Aug 2014 22:36
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2014 08:22

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