SPS: Holistic Defense Advocates

Social Work and the Courts

legal scales

Gabriela Dodson, LCSW, interviewed Julia Lara for an article titled “Profile of a Holistic Defense Advocate,” published in the latest Section Connection newsletter.

Lara, who received her MSW from California State University, Northridge, in 2020, has experience in the local food bank and hospice programs and is currently working as a holistic defense advocate (HDA) with the Santa Barbara public defender’s office. An HDA is a social worker embedded in the public defender’s office to support a holistic defense to the court.

The HDA spends time with the defendant and family to create a complete picture of the individual as a means of lowering the charges and encouraging community-based treatment. Lara’s path to working as a HDA started when she had exposure to social justice and quickly understood the need for systemic change.

NASW offers 11 Specialty Practice Sections for members to join. Social Work Advocates will write about each of the sections this year. Learn more about NASW’s SPS.

cover of winter 2024 issue

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