April 2, 2004

Brooks discusses social work and the law

Featured Image

Susan L. Brooks, left, talked with Carol Rabideau, a licensed clinical social worker, before she spoke to a group of VUMC social workers March 26. Photo by Dana Johnson

Brooks discusses social work and the law

A Vanderbilt law professor recently pointed out to a group of VUMC social workers that their profession has long had positive influence on the judicial system and on the law itself.

Susan L. Brooks, clinical professor of law, spoke to an audience of VUMC social workers on the topic, “Therapeutic Jurisprudence in Family Law” March 26.

Brooks, who has a master’s degree in social work, identified therapeutic jurisprudence as an approach that borrows from sociology and social work. It assess the effects of legal rules and processes on people’s lives, and to make changes to provide more positive results for individuals and for society.

"A lot of the principles, values and theories … that social work has adopted as a field have come to influence the law," Brooks said.

Brooks contrasted traditional family law, with its emphasis on blame and punishment, with the therapeutic approaches that are now beginning to emerge in family law, including mediation and imposed family therapy.

Brook’s talk was part of the VUMC observance of Social Work Month. Last year the VUMC department of Social Work marked its 75th year. The Medical Center’s social workers provide counseling and assistance to patients and families, including helping patients get the care they may need after a hospital admission.

Pam M. Macarthur was named VUMC Social Worker of the Year at a department reception on March 25. Macarthur works with the Medicine patient care center.