Agents of Change: Definition
Change agents are competent persons who use their dexterities to make significant differences in their respective fields (Nandan, London, & Bent-Goodley, 2015). These professionals engage others to ensure new goals are realized promptly. The roles of social workers explain why they are described as agents of change. These practitioners focus on various social challenges and issues affecting their communities (Kirst-Ashman, 2016).
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They empower their followers to analyze the existing problems and offer evidence-based solutions to transform the livelihoods of more beneficiaries. The nature of the targeted challenge is what informs an agent of change to come up with the most desirable initiatives. The possession of adequate competencies allows many social workers to promote new changes by designing appropriate conditions for their respective clients. This description can be used to define what it would mean to be a successful change agent in social work.
Any individual in the field has the potential to become an agent of change. This is the case because change agents are not always leaders or persons in authority (Nandan et al., 2015). A social worker working hard to improve the outcomes of more clients will focus on the concept of change. The change agent will develop a clear vision, communicate it to the right followers, and empower them to achieve the targeted goals.
Kirst-Ashman (2016) acknowledges the fact that change cannot happen automatically. In the field of social work, change agents are persons who remain persistent and promote adequate initiatives that can deliver desirable results promptly. They go further to ask questions, implement powerful programs, and connect with their respective clients. The outlined vision becomes a powerful guiding principle whereby the agent of change leads as an example (Kirst-Ashman, 2016). Specific issues such as trust, confidentiality, support, and empowerment become critical whenever dealing with the challenges affecting the target population.
Two Social Workers
The above definition has shown conclusively that successful change agents are not always those who occupy leadership positions. The achievements of different social workers within the past two centuries have encouraged more people to act intelligently and use their dexterities to transform the experiences of more people (Nandan et al., 2015). Two social workers who managed to become change agents in their rights include Philippe Pinel and Reverend Charles Loring Brace. This discussion gives a detailed analysis of the backgrounds, biographies, and accomplishments of these change agents in the field of social work. The reasons why the individuals have been selected as change agents will also be presented.
Many historians argue that Philippe Pinel played a significant role in transforming the field of social work. His efforts were instrumental in the establishment of evidence-based approaches for dealing with mental conditions (Huneman, 2014). The professional was born in a small town called Jonquieres in France. His father was a physician who practiced in the country. Pinel decided to study medicine to deal with the health issues affecting the population. As a teenager, the scholar wrote, edited, and translated many publications in the field of healthcare. During the infamous French Revolution of the 1780s, Pinel became a lead physician in a hospital in Paris. This role was a new opportunity for his team to come up with several treatment options for different imprisoned men.
The physician came up with scientific and practical techniques to deal with various mental conditions. He devised evidence-based therapeutic approaches to assist more psychiatric patients in the country. The relevance of personalized interventions gained much attention during the period (Huneman, 2014). He focused on patients’ histories and experiences to develop appropriate therapies for them.
Issues such as liberty and authority became important due to his work. These efforts made him a famous figure who “transformed how the society viewed mad people” (Huneman, 2014, p. 13). The physician started to view such persons as clients who needed psychiatric attention. The relevance of therapeutic approaches to treat mental illnesses gained much attention in the field of healthcare.
These efforts transformed how many mental illnesses were handled in colonial America. After the achievements of the physician became evident, the society began to place patients with mental conditions in almshouses. The 19th century presented new improvements whereby clients began to be treated humanely. The Moral Treatment Movement (MTM) emerged to ensure such persons were handled sympathetically (Huneman, 2014). These developments would result in better approaches to deal with psychiatric conditions throughout the 20th century.
This analysis shows conclusively that Philippe Pinel was a change agent whose efforts transformed the field of social work. He presented new concepts at a time when psychiatric patients were viewed as mad citizens. Together with his team, Pinel developed evidence-based approaches to support the health needs of more patients. He worked tirelessly to support the needs of this underserved population (Kirst-Ashman, 2016). The efforts persuaded more workers to focus on the needs of their clients. Such achievements transformed the field of mental health for the better.
Charles Loring Brace
Reverend Charles Loring Brace was born in Litchfield in the year 1826 (Goldsmith, 2013). His parents named him after one of his uncles who used to be a lawyer. Brace completed his studies in 1846 from Yale College. He later pursued theology at Union Theological Seminary (Goldsmith, 2013). After completing school, he moved to New York during the American Protestantism Movement (APM) period.
Brace wanted to pursue various humanitarian projects in an attempt to transform the lives of many homeless children in the city. This catalyzed the establishment of the Children’s Aid Society in 1853 (Goldsmith, 2013). This was a response to the increasing number of orphaned or unwanted children in almshouses. These houses were also characterized by poverty and lack of adequate medical support. His efforts led to the creation of new orphanages to take care of more children.
Brace pioneered new efforts to ensure more children were placed in homes (Goldsmith, 2013). He partnered with framers in the Midwest to accept most of the orphaned children. He also supported the idea of protecting the environment. This effort led to new policies that encouraged the government to create new societies to provide adequate aid to more children. This movement became a new beginning to promote the concept of foster care. The country would eventually embrace the idea in an attempt to deal with homelessness.
The above analysis shows conclusively that Reverend Charles Loring Brace was a change agent whose efforts transformed the lives of many ignored children. The Children’s Aid Society founded by Brace in New York became a new model for dealing with abandoned children. He used his knowledge to come up with a solution to address a problem that had been ignored by the government (Goldsmith, 2013). Brace’s leadership approach pioneered new ideas to reshape how homeless children were supported in the country.
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Becoming an Agent of Change
The skills gained in class have empowered me to come up with powerful measures to address various social problems. To begin with, I have known how to identify specific challenges affecting a given population. This knowledge is embraced to bring together different persons who can collaborate and transform the targeted situation (Nandan et al., 2015). As a change agent, I have been creating powerful plans depending on the targeted outcomes. After understanding the nature of problems affecting my clients, I always bring on board competent persons and mentor them to deliver meaningful results.
Several attributes have continued to support my goals as an agent of change. For instance, I always develop a vision that can guide my agenda. The ultimate goal is to ensure that a given problem is addressed promptly to improve the lives of the targeted clients (Kirst-Ashman, 2016). The unique roles associated with a change agent define my philosophy. I have become a helper who seeks to deal with the issues affecting my people.
I act as an organizer who mobilizes persons and resources in an attempt to push for change (Nandan et al., 2015). As an advocate, I persist and liaise with different clients to deliver lasting outcomes. These practices have made it easier for me to become a change agent who transforms the lives of more people. I am also planning to acquire new concepts that can improve my philosophy as a social practitioner.
Goldsmith, S. (2013). The Orphan Train Movement: Examining 19th century childhood experiences. Trinity College Digital Repository, 1(1), 1-48. Web.
Huneman, P. (2014). Writing the case – Pinel as psychiatrist. Republics of Letters: A Journal for the Study of Knowledge, Politics, and the Art, 3(2), 1-28. Web.
Kirst-Ashman, K. (2016). Empowerment series: Introduction to social work & social welfare: Critical thinking perspectives. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole.
Nandan, M., London, M., & Bent-Goodley, T. (2015). Social workers as social change agents: Social innovation, social intrapreneurship, and social entrepreneurship. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, 39(1), 38-56. Web.