Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Social Welfare

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 156 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Lynn Warner

Committee Members

Lani Jones, Maurice Stevens


best practices, critical consciousness, heterosexism, LGB, social justice, Heterosexism, Social work with sexual minorities, Social workers, Social justice, Homophobia in social work, Social work with gays, Social work with lesbians, Social work with bisexuals

Subject Categories

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Social Work


Social workers are responsible for providing the majority of mental health and substance abuse services in the United States in the role of direct service. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LBG) individuals utilize these services at rates that are believed to be higher than other populations. The field of social work embraces social justice as one of its core principles. This cross-sectional survey of 220 BSW and/or MSW social workers investigates two questions: what is the relationship among key aspects of social worker critical consciousness, i.e., attitudes about social justice, change agency, and awareness of heterosexism; and in what ways does critical consciousness influence practice (promising practices) with LGB clients in behavioral health programs. Findings suggest that social workers who have greater critical consciousness have greater self-reported skills and knowledge scores and engage in more LGB promising practices. Specifically, respondents with more consciousness as evidenced by awareness of heterosexism, positive attitudes towards LGB persons, and greater engagement in social justice activity in their personal and professional lives, including their encouragement of client engagement in social justice activity, have higher skills and knowledge scores and utilize more LGB promising practices. Implications for social work practice and education are discussed and areas for future research are presented.