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Empowering Single Mothers in Iran: Applying a Problem-Solving Model in Learning Groups to Develop Participants’ Capacity to Improve Their Lives
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Social Medicine and Public Health Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Karlstad University, Sweden.
Department of sociology, Lakehead University, Canada.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Social Medicine and Public Health Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6049-5402
2013 (English)In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 43, no 5, 833-852 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Since 2000, a problem-solving model has been taught to the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child, and teachers and students of social work in two universities in Iran. Since 2006, with the initiation of UNICEF, social workers, psychologists and even some psychiatrists in Iran have been learning this model. In 2008, a group of researchers created an empowerment-oriented psycho-social group and private intervention project to assess whether a group of Iranian single mothers could use this model, which was traditionally used by professionals only, to effectively and independently meet challenges in their own lives. Our results show that all women used the model effectively and, consequently, made more deliberate decisions to improve their life situations. Some of the women succeeded in finding a job and many improved their family relationships. This study suggests that empowerment-oriented social work can help many clients to achieve their goals, and that this psycho-social intervention project can be a useful model for social work in Iran and many other societies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2013. Vol. 43, no 5, 833-852 p.
Keyword [en]
Iranian single mothers, psycho-social intervention, empowerment, capacitydevelopment, the Rahyab problem-solving model
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-88189DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcs009ISI: 000322671100002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-88189DiVA: diva2:602037
Available from: 2013-01-31 Created: 2013-01-31 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Empowering Women in the Middle East by Psychosocial Interventions: Can provision of learning spaces in individual and group sessions and teaching of coping strategies improve women’s quality of life?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Empowering Women in the Middle East by Psychosocial Interventions: Can provision of learning spaces in individual and group sessions and teaching of coping strategies improve women’s quality of life?
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: This study set out to construct a conceptual framework that can be used in social work with women in the Middle East and other settings where women have limited access to resources, which, as a result, limits their decision-making capacity. The framework has both an empirical and a theoretical base. The empirical base comprises data from two intervention projects among Iranian women: single mothers and newly married women. The theoretical base is drawn from relevant psychological and social work theories and is harmonized with the empirical data. Psychosocial intervention projects, based on learning spaces for coping strategies, were organized to assess if Iranian women could use a problemsolving model (i.e. focused on cognition and emotion simultaneously) to effectively and independently meet challenges in their own lives and improve their quality of life.

Methods: Descriptive qualitative and quasi-experimental quantitative methods were used for data collection and analysis. Forty-four single mothers and newly married women from social welfare services were allocated to nonrandomized intervention and comparison groups. The intervention groups were invited to participate in a 7-month psychosocial intervention; the comparison groups were provided with treatment as usual by the social welfare services. The WHOQOL-BREF instrument was used to measure quality of life, comparing each intervention groups’ scores before and after the intervention and with respective comparison groups. In addition, content analysis and constant comparative analysis were performed on the qualitative data collected from the participants before, during and after the intervention.

Results: The results of the quasi-experimental study show significant and large effect sizes among the women exposed to the intervention. Small and not statistically significant effect sizes were observed in the women provided with traditional social welfare services. Accordingly, teaching coping strategies can be a means to improve the quality of life of women in societies where gender discrimination is prevalent. The qualitative findings from the Iranian projects illustrate a process of change —socio-cognitive empowerment— with regard to thinking, feeling and acting among women during and after the intervention. The women developed a number of mental capacities essential to coping and life management. All women used the model effectively, and consequently, made more deliberate decisions to improve their life situations.

Conclusion: The practical lessons from the Iranian projects highlight the possibilities of empowering women through fostering mindfulness and deliberate decision making as well as achieving consciousness. This study provides provisional evidence that psychosocial intervention projects, based on learning spaces for coping strategies, can help many clients to achieve their goals and improve their quality of life, and that this psychosocial intervention project can be a useful model for social work practice with women in the Middle East. The conceptual framework can help social workers to bridge the gap between theory and practice: that is, to draw from existing social work theories and, through the psychosocial intervention model, better apply this knowledge in their practical work with women in challenging social environments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. 103 p.
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1320
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-88194 (URN)9789175198286 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-02-22, Aulan, Hälsans Huse, Campus US, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-01-31 Created: 2013-01-31 Last updated: 2017-06-30Bibliographically approved

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