See Jana's article on "Addressing
Structural Oppression in Social Work Practice"
in The Journal of the Ontario Association
of Social Workers Newsmagazine. Read it here.
LPI Trailer here:
Robert is a community development worker working
with individuals and groups. He has worked with youth for
I use an LPI approach
because it integrates a focus on power relations and is rooted
in a possibility oriented social work. I also like how it
includes conversations of spirituality and healing. I find it to
be a friendly approach, which I am able to use it in my daily work.
I like the focus on critical reflexivity and transformative dialogue/action.
Using LPI, I am not only working with my client but also my self
(non-stop). I realize I am also within oppressive relations and
that I need to constantly be aware of the discourses surrounding
and coming through me - moment by moment.
Using an LPI approach, I am aware that I am always
"possibly problematic". I try to have my 'Noticer' on.
I know systemic chatter is persistent, so I am try to watch myself;
I question my interpretive lenses. I am constantly building my 'Noticer'.
Most of the time the chatter does not get its way, which allows
me to act from my values and commitments- the reason I do social
work. It also facilitates my own personal agency.
Besides critical reflexivity and facilitating transformative
dialogue, I use an LPI approach when doing my "assessments".
LPI Life Source Mapping helps me look at the multiple structural
and discursive influences, while focusing on possibility and resilience/resistance.
Having concrete frameworks at hand like the LPI mapping points,
allows me to mediate experience, while addressing the concrete
LPI Life Source Mapping also responds with a flexibility
matching the realities of my practice. An ongoing, "temporarily
conclusive" approach to assessment and intervention allows
for a fluidity realistic to the changes in my client's lives. I
also like that the mapping points include spirituality, political/community
healing and self-care. I find it useful in every day social work
because it focuses both on my own journey towards liberation and
self-agency, as well as specific practices and processes
that I can use across roles and contexts. I guess it's the transferability
that I count on because my work isn't so cookie cutter, even though
I am called a "community worker". Like many workers, I
work with everything and do much more than my job description.
The LPI DVD series is something I return to often
because it specifically outlines how to address power relations
and structural realities. I like how it grounds everything into
everyday/every moment practice. LPI has helped me to get that I
have an opportunity to do activism in each moment of my practice,
whether I am doing policy work or counselling. Using an LPI approach,
policy is not distinct from other work I do. There is no micro/macro
distinction. "Everything speaks". I use the same critical
reflexivity of Life Source Mapping when building policy. It also
gives me concrete frameworks to check out if I am really practicing
what I preach. I guess what it does is bring me into a place of
self-responsibility, because the focus is mostly on me, and what
I am doing/being. I feel this emphasis helps my practice a lot because
it helps me stay conscious of my impact.
I guess I also like the idea that this approach is
developed by and for practitioners and that it is always changing.
It is very alive and "bottom up". I also like the international
aspect to it. I feel part of an international community, although
my practice is in Toronto. This sense of community keeps me going.
I guess to me, LPI is a collective effort, which I am happy to be
part of. It's great to be part of a community that shares an emancipatory
Here are the frameworks I carry with me for
critical reflection in order to facilitate my emancipatory agenda.
*Robert has been created as a voice to reflect
the LPI approach in practice
SEVEN MAPPING POINTS: 7E'S OF LIBERATION
Points of Inquiry
When using this reflective framework, mapping
points may intersect and overlap. This reflective tool is
non-linear, non-conclusive and ever moving.
is understood as the ability to see through the taken-for-granted
truths, definitions and scripts perpetuated by the dominant
culture. These often inform our internal and external dialogues.
It is about deconstructing the "Systemic Chatter",
in order to expose power relations, and to clarify one's position
in relation to them. It also facilitates 'esteem', a valuing
of oneself and community, and builds self/community definition
is countering the effects of regulation, suppression and cultural
imperialism. It is about asserting and facilitating a space
for voice, personal significance, cultural identity, ancestry
and full social participation.
is countering the effects of exploitation and marginalization,
through addressing rights, resources and rootedness (stability,
safety, security). It facilitates equity and building 'home'.
It addresses structural issues through political and social
action on individual, local, national and international levels.
"Energy of Possibility"
counters individual and collective 'spirit injury' (emotional
and energetic injury), which often include the effects of
oppression and stressed contexts, along with other life experiences.
Through acknowledging emotional pain and its effect on behavior,
as well as exploring holistic initiatives, a movement towards
transformative healing and a space of energy, resilience,
passion and possibility can emerge.
is being able to deeply encounter another person/group. It
acknowledges lenses of objectification and challenges one's
own internalization of scripts and definitions imposed by
the dominant culture. It is the ability to be with one another,
seeing our self and others for who we are, not letting judgment/evaluation
and structured relations get in the way. It is about valuing
our self and another. It is about recognition and respect.
counters a sense of powerlessness, helplessness, limited access,
opportunity and mobility. It is about gaining or facilitating
confidence, competence and capacity to impact one's environment,
so as to transform internal/external barriers.
"Exercise of Power"
is countering the personal and structural barriers that inhibit
individual and collective well-being. It is about using our
discretionary power and collective abilities to facilitate
individual/ organizational/ structural transformation. It
is about enacting our personal and collective agency.
Systemic Chatter consists of the dominant narratives, which
are both informed by and support the structures found within
our society. Systemic Chatter shows up within our internal
and external dialogue reflecting inherited power relations
within historical and contemporary conversations.