Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Mari Ann Graham


Social Work


Social workers hold a significant amount of power and control over people’s lives. As a profession, social workers are a privileged group, predominately white and holding higher educational degrees. Research shows that unexamined privilege will “perpetuate inequality and oppression” (Hillock, 2012, p. 48). As social workers, who are mandated to stand up for social justice, staying attentive to privilege should be a vital part of our practice. However, there is a dearth of research on this topic. The purpose of this research is to identify how clinical social workers are staying attentive to their privilege once in practice. This qualitative research paper captures the voices of seven licensed clinical social workers from the Twin Cities Metro Area in Minnesota. Data was analyzed using grounded theory and open coding to determine the following themes: taking responsibility, roadblocks to identifying privilege and payoffs for staying attentive to privilege. Implications for social work practice are discussed and include: addressing privilege need to be a priority, overcoming discomfort, improving social work education and empowering practitioners.

Included in

Social Work Commons