Ethnographic findings from the Washington, DC vocational services study

Ernest Quimby


Based on a 20-month period of participant observations and interviews of persons receiving services, employment specialists and clinicians, this ethnographic substudy identified and documented dilemmas encountered during implementation of an assertive, manualized supported employment program, Individual Placement and Support (IPS), situated in a Washington, D.C., community mental health organization that previously focused on clinical interventions but lacked vocational services. Those receiving services, primarily African Americans, had extensive histories of homelessness and dual diagnosis, and minimal work experiences. Real-world issues centered on conflicting expectations and priorities, diverse perceptions of the role of work, and difficulties in integrating vocational rehabilitation with clinical treatment.

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