Date of Conferral







Jay Greiner


The divergent goals of educational institutions versus those of school social workers can lead to school social workers feeling disenfranchised. A major premise in the profession of social work is empowerment; yet, practitioners of school social work report feeling marginalized, misunderstood, underappreciated, and at-risk for elimination, common expressions of a lack of empowerment and self-efficacy. The experiences of school social workers with empowerment and self-efficacy within the workplace have been overlooked as a potential factor in the ability of these workers to empower and serve their clients. The purpose of this study was to understand the lived and share experience of this population. The conceptual framework for the study was based on the theories of selfefficacy and empowerment. A qualitative method of phenomenological inquiry was used to gain insight into the meaning ascribed to the empowerment and self-efficacy experiences of this population, as well as the resulting thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and implications. Interviews, observation, reflective journaling, and thematic content analysis were incorporated with a purposeful, criterion-based sample of 12 school socialworkers located within the state of Pennsylvania. Data were analyzed using Moustakas's method of content analysis and the study produced 6 themes and 3 subthemes. The findings indicate that school social workers can become more empowered and efficacious through communication with stakeholders and advocacy efforts. Social change implications of this study may include informing pupil-services professionals with a better understanding of these characteristics, thereby enhancing their contribution to public schools, as well as their service delivery to children and families.