Despite holding significant roles in providing social services to First Nations or indigenous communities, social work has been reluctant to accept indigenous perspectives and traditional forms of helping and healing. Most often, social workers have operated within the dominant paradigms that, despite efforts to the contrary, have primarily imposed Western social work beliefs and practices which have been unable to effectively accommodate diversity. This paper argues that the recent attention to the importance of the environment and spirituality, and the paradigmatic shift that such issues require, has created a welcoming space for indigenous voices. Such acceptance has opened the opportunity for the profession to benefit not only from a genuine exchange among cultures, but also from a re-thinking of the foundational beliefs of the social work profession.
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in British Journal of Social Work following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Coates J, Gray Marilyn Marjorie, Hetherington Tiani Jayne, ’An 'ecospiritual' perspective: Finally, a place for indigenous approaches’, British Journal of Social Work, 36 381-399 (2006) is available online at: http://bjsw.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/36/3/381