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Abstract

Despite a proliferation of programs targeted for persons who are homeless and mentally ill, few reports in the literature detail the challenges experienced or strategies utilized by workers, the majority of whom are social workers. The present study reports results from two focus group sessions held with staff running a model service intervention for this population at two separate sites. The methodology that was utilized quanitified results, allowing presentation of themes, as well as comparisons of the frequency of responses across categories and by site. Staff perceived barriersa ssociatedw ith client behaviors and characteristicsp redominated at both sites. However, systemic and other external barriers were also frequently mentioned. Although not part of the focus group questions, staff spontaneously made mention of their personal feelings and how they were handled. Site differences were identified in the frequency with which certain strategies to handle client and systemic barriers were mentioned. The discussion focuses on implications for the education and training of social workers who provide services to individuals who are homeless and mentally ill.

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