The Social Work Practicum

How would a focus on equal treatment versus equal outcomes affect policy?

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When fighting for causes of injustice or responding to the hurt and pain we see in those who are oppressed or marginalized it is easy to be driven by our emotions and sense of compassion. However, it is important that you understand, as a future faith-based social worker, a balanced approach to responding to injustice. One that feels the pain of others while being rooted in truth. Real justice can only be achieved when it is grounded in truth. Truth and justice are always inextricably linked together and social workers must be careful to ensure their advocacy efforts supports this reality.


  • Textbook: The social work practicum: A guide and workbook for students
  • Video: Blind pursuit of Equal OUTCOME leads to an “Abomination of Justice” – Jonathan Haidt
  • Video: Christians and Social Justice

Background Information

The NASW Code of Ethics calls social workers to advocate for causes of injustice and the populations we serve who often experience oppression, stigma and marginalization. The Code does not define for us in detail however, what the end result of our advocacy efforts should look like as this is specific to each population. It is up to us as social workers to assess, evaluate and discern what results to pursue and the means to pursue them based on our Code. For the following discussion you will view a video presenting ideas about responding to injustice and discuss their application to a population of your choice related to your placement agency or the social work profession.


  1. Read in your textbook The Social Work Practicum: A Guide and Workbook for Students, review Chapter 6, “Organizational Context of Practice.”
  2. Review Garthwait, Chapter 17, Leadership for Social Justice.
  3. Watch the video “Christians and Social Justice.”
  4. Watch the video: Blind pursuit of Equal OUTCOME leads to an “Abomination of Justice” – Jonathan Haidt.
  5. Navigate to the threaded discussion and respond to the following questions:
    1. Based on the material presented in the videos, describe the difference between focusing social justice efforts on achieving equal treatment versus equal outcomes?
    2. Give an example of how you see the approaches of equal outcome versus equal treatment being applied to an issue of social injustice with a population at your agency or of concern in the field of social work? Which is the focus of the advocacy efforts being made? What is the goal or end result being sought based on this focus? Describe these clearly and specifically.
    3. What “third” variables, may contribute to the social justice issues being identified with the population you have chosen? How does recognizing these other variables impact how social workers should approach advocacy for this group?
    4. Where have you seen “correlations” sometimes used to imply “causation” of an area of injustice? Based on the ideas presented by Dr Haidt, what ideas do you have about how social workers can best navigate advocacy efforts for social justice with the population you have chosen? How would a focus on equal treatment versus equal outcomes affect policy?
    5. Justice that is not grounded in the truth may be well intentioned but not lead to the right results. Whenever we undertake a cause of social justice, we should ask ourselves if the help we are trying to provide is actually going to result in the kind of freedom or equality we believe is important or that God thinks is important? Discuss how truth and justice need to be combined and applied to the population you are considering.
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