1.3 Empowerment and anti-oppressive practice
Empowerment can be defined as enabling service users to take action to improve their lives. From the point of view of service users, practitioners are often in positions of considerable power, particularly where decisions are being made about the delivery of services and around intervention in people's lives. To practise empowerment, social workers will need to focus on working with service users to engage them in the problem-solving process. Empowerment is linked with anti-oppressive practice, in that the social worker can work with service users to enable them to overcome barriers to solving problems – whether located in the attitudes and practices of professionals and social institutions (for example, health and education authorities) or in the beliefs of the service user. The social worker's knowledge of service provision and the law can be critical in empowering service users. Anti-oppressive practice is ‘about a process of change which leads (service users) from feeling powerless to powerful’ (Dalrymple and Burke, 1995).