Narrative Medicine in Social Work: Family and Generational Violence


Narrative non-fiction traces its origins to journalism, with authors telling true stories in the first person, employing all the elements of fiction: the use of scenes, dramatic moments, description, character arc, structure, dialogue, and theme. Narrative-based medicine (NBM) is the application of narrative ideas to the practice of medicine (Zaharias, 2018) and other health professions, such as social work. It focuses on the lived experience of healthcare professionals, their patients, and their families to promote understanding, empathy, and meaning-making. A review by DasGupta and Charon (2019) noted that narrative methods, including storytelling and reflective writing, have been associated with increased empathy and improved patient outcomes. These findings suggest that incorporating narrative approaches into medical education and practice can positively impact both providers and patients. According to the book, Narrative in social work practice: The Power and Possibility of the Story (Burack-Weiss et al., 2017[JC1] ), the use of narrative medicine to explore a case seeks to understand complex, ambiguous phenomena while appreciating the lived experience. The benefits of using narrative cases for learners is to provide real-world scenarios that they may encounter in their professional practice. These cases can help students develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills by analyzing complex situations and identifying appropriate interventions. Additionally, narrative cases can promote empathy and cultural sensitivity by exposing students to diverse perspectives and experiences (Bolton & Howlett, 2010). In this dissertation, the author has created three essays of narrative medicine involving the theme of intergenerational trauma and violence to stimulate learning in the social work education classroom with critical questions. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) recognizes the value of narrative writing in social work practice, particularly in developing case studies that reflect the complex realities of social work. According to the NASW, case studies written in a narrative format can offer a more engaging and effective way to convey the experiences of clients and social workers. By incorporating narrative writing into social work education and practice, social workers can better understand the diverse perspectives of clients and collaborate with them to achieve more personalized and effective interventions. Key Words: domestic violence, generational violence, school-based mental health, narrative medicine. References: Bennett, S. (2011). Confidentiality in clinical writing: Ethical dilemmas in publishing case material from clinical social work practice. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 81(1), 7-25. Bolton, G., & Howlett, S. (2010). Reflective Writing for Nursing, Health and Social Work. Sage Publications Ltd. Burack-Weiss, Lawrence, L. S., Mijangos, L. B. (EDS.). (2017). Narrative in social work practice : the power and possibility of story. Columbia University Press. DasGupta, S., & Charon, R. (2019). Impact of narrative medicine: A review of the evidence by the story medicine working group. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 34(2), 404-409. Kelly, M. S., Massat, C. R., & Constable, R. (2021). School social work: Practice, policy, and research (9th ed.). Oxford University Press. National Association of Social Work. (2021). Code of Ethics: English. Reamer, F. G. (2013). Ethics and values. In Encyclopedia of social work. Zaharias G. (2018). What is narrative-based medicine? Narrative-based medicine. Canadian family physician, 64(3), 176–180.

Dr. Jacqueline Corcoran
Dr. Julia Bloch
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