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Social Work Methods and Theories

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 2180 words Published: 13th Jul 2017

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This essay will consist of four main parts. In part one; the essay will give a brief introduction and history to social work theories and methods. Moving forward the essay will look at the importance and value of theories and methods in relation to social work and how it informs practice. Throughout, reference will be made to the most popular theorist. Part two will consider how social work theories and methods can be successfully applied in the drug and alcohol field. Given an overview of this, it will be necessary to demonstrate how two social work methods are chosen, and applied, in the intervention of an example case study. Where applicable, contributions from service users will be used to bring more insight and balance to the essay. Part three will be an analysis of a social work method used in the example case study. From the method, the essay will explore and evaluate, in depth, the way it underpins anti-discriminatory practice.

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Part four of this essay will conclude with a reflection on how the student has gained a valuable knowledge base throughout the module and assignment. This reflection will also show how the student will use this knowledge base in practice. No reflection would be complete without a concise look at how reflective practice can play a vital part of future social work practice.

An initial risk assessment was carried out by the referral worker, in the vein of a questioning model to identify possible risks and dangers to staff and other service users, however as discussed by Smale, Tuson and Statham (2000) taking a strengths based approach would allow referral workers and key workers to work as collaborators, facilitating service users to identify needs and outcomes. During intervention with Mr AB sessions, in the form of an exchange model, were carried out endeavoring that further assessment became a process of dialogue rather than just a fact finding mission with the exchanging of ideas and information. This approach is compatible with the framework of task centered practice, appropriate with this intervention (Ford & Postle, 2000)

Key work sessions started with Mr AB and from the outset the process was explained and the objectives made clear, it was also explained to Mr AB that due to company policies, and his terms and conditions of stay in the night shelter, these sessions were time limited so a positive ending to the professional relationship was hoped for. It was also considered that this approach would reduce the power imbalance in the relationship; however the power will never be fully balanced when working within legislative and multi agency procedures (Parker & Bradley, 2008) However as stated by Dalymple & Burke (2000) it is necessary to endeavour to empower rather then disempowere with the need to balance power relationships. In this instance this can be evidenced by the written agreements in the form of the assessment and support plan

. Weekly key worker sessions agreed to by Mr AB provided further support as required and opportunity to review whether desired outcomes were being achieved, as in the National Occupational Standards Key Role and outlined by Supporting People and the agency policy and procedures (ODPM, 2004). (Walker & Beckett, 2007). It is also necessary to not only collect information as part of the key worker sessions but to balance findings in order to produce an overall analysis of risks and need (Walker & Beckett, 2007).

Throughout the assessment procedure it is necessary to be aware of the influences of ethics, power, and professionalism along with anti- oppressive practice. Middleton (1997) states that in order to empower, it is

necessary to respect the individual, enhance their strengths and coping abilities. It is therefore vital that key worker sessions be conducted with a non judgmental attitude. While acknowledging the key worker has different values and status to Mr AB showing acceptance to people in all situations can be difficult however as stated in by Carl Rogers (1951, 1961) the human psychologist the person should show they are genuine, and portray empathy and warmth.

It become apparent as key worker sessions continued that Mr AB was reluctant to engage with this service as he was in pre contemplation (Denial) (Prowchaska & Di Clamentis 1996). However, the threat of eviction if he did not adhere to his conditions of stay was a considerable worry to Mr AB as was the thought of becoming homeless and having to sleep rough. It is very important to remember that as key working intervenes in the lives of vulnerable people these people have the right not to be victims of untested and possible harmful interventions. This confirms the need of understanding how theory relates to practice and learning from research and evidence based practice (Rutter, 2006)

This confirms Maslow (1970) who shows in his hierarchy of need, that before higher needs can be met basic needs are required to be in place.

Therefore to allow Mr AB to move forward in his life he requires support to start a procces to put these needs in place (Giddens, 2006).

Mr AB during his key work sessions discussed his feelings and it was felt by him that no opportunities were open to him and that he was struggling against a society that was oppressive and keeping him down. It was pointed out to Mr AB that his position in society was that of a lifestyle choice, that society is changing to support people to progress and that choices were open to him (Giddens, 2006)

). It is however necessary to acknowledge as stated by Bronfenbrenner (1979) that different levels of society will influence the individuals life course. Also stated by Jack and Jack (2000) individuals are products of their environment and can never be fully understood separately from one another.

As stated by Crawford & Walker (2005) transitions have the potential to be stressful even those that are planned and welcomed. As the intervention process progressed and the support plan auctioned positive outcomes including building on self confidence which led to Mr AB seeking and securing part time employment

Doel (1994) states that service user motivation may weaken and it was therefore important to continue supporting and encouraging Mr AB’S interest and commitment to work. By adopting a model that worked with service users strengths helped to ensure that an anti oppressive focus was maintained.

. Using task centered practice as discussed by Ford & Postle (2009) goals were set which would support the researching and attending of courses which provide basic computer skills, with the attainment of each goal aimed to promote self-confidence and further motivation (Rooney & Larsen, 1997).

Subsequently in this instance the planned ending and outcomes have not been realized, with events determining an alternate course of action (Walker & Beckett, 2007).

The first part of this essay will look at the relationship between social work methods and substance abuse

Denial can also be explained as a defence mechanism which is established by a person when there is a danger that he or she will become aware of or act on unconscious primitive impulses that are unacceptable (Freud, 1967).

). Knatz (1999) states that denial is a defense mechanism by which individuals are able to cope with unpleasant realities.

Be aware that the term ‘alcoholism’ implies disease/condition. If you use the term alcoholism in assignments, be sure to establish that you mean to say ‘alcoholism’ and not ‘alcohol dependency’

). If you use general references around statistics on alcohol, try to refer to British statistics, you could use National Treatment Agency website reports, Office of National Statistics (ONS), NICE guidelines on treatment of alcohol dependency for British/UK data, all available on line

Let’s give the word relationship a different definition from the dictionaries, for unlocking the meaning of the word often leads to greater understanding. - too colloquial, would be better to state, “The word ‘relationship’ has varied definitions from different sources of literature.”

Conflict is a part of most every interpersonal relationship. Therefore it could be stated that managing conflict, is important if the relationship is to be long-lasting and rewarding. Jason and Beth have numerous conflicts and barriers which prevent them from having a more effective relationship. Interpersonal relationships and communication (is a two-way street), too colloquial, say ‘have mutuality’

Beth and Jason seem to rarely communicate between each other, a further factor which appears to contribute to the disintegration of their relationship.

It can give rise to greater anxiety, depression, insomnia, and general distress, reduced self-esteem and confidence, and sometimes disrupted family relations ((Fryer,1992;Jahoda,1982).


Barber, G (2002) Social work with addiction. Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire

Berger, G. (1993), Alcoholism and the family. New York: Franklin Watts

Conville, Richard (1998) The meaning of “relationship” in interpersonal communication. Praeger Publications. Califonia.

Heider, Fritz (1958) The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations. Lawrence Erlbaum associates

Jahoda, M (1982) Employment and Unemployment (The Psychology of Social Issues). Cambridge University Press

Knatz, H (1999) Getting on Oxford Books.Oxford

Levinger, G. (1983). Development and change. Freeman and Company.San Francisco.

Manstead, Antony S. R. and Miles Hewstone (1996). The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Psychology. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Maslow, Abraham.(1954) Motivation and personality. Harper and Row, New York.

Steele, CM (1985) The psychology of drunken excess. London Press, London.

West, Robert (2001) The theory of addiction. Blackwell publishing, Oxford.

The principle areas of social , administration and social workstudies include health issues and administration, employment services,community care, housing needs, crime prevention, disability checks,unemployment concerns, mental health, old age as well as social issues of raceor gender and poverty (Drake, 2001).

Social work practice focuses on dealing with the problems of service users. The maintenance and improvement of their social, physical, and mental states is often dependent upon the effectiveness of social work intervention. (Miller, 2005)

 Providing appropriatesocial services is an important target of social care policy and social policyin general (Adams, 2003).

Welfare is general well being of individualsand when provided by the State, refers to a form of social security or social protectionthat aims to protect people from conditions such as sickness, ill health,diseases and poverty (Malin et al 2002)

Social work practice has, over the years, become integral to Britain’s working life and current estimates put the number of active social workers in the country at significantly more than one million. (Parrott, 2002)

Social work practice focuses on dealing with the problems of service users. The maintenance and improvement of their social, physical, and mental states is often dependent upon the effectiveness of social work intervention. (Miller, 2005) Users of social work services are largely economically and/or socially disadvantaged, and the vulnerabilities, which arise from these circumstances, frequently contribute to the nature of their relationships with service providers. (Miller, 2005) Social work makes use of a broad range of knowledge and incorporates information obtained from several disciplines; it empowers social workers in practice to use their acquired knowledge and skills first to engage service users and then to bring about positive changes in undesirable emotional states and behavioural attitudes, or in positions of social disempowerment. (Miller, 2005)

 Social work makes use of a range of skills, methods, and actions that are aligned to its holistic concentration on individuals and their environments. (Harris, 2002)

Counselling, whilst being a catch-all term, used for describing of various professions, is, an important component of social work practice. (Rowland, 1993)

Specific counselling approaches have been developed to assist people with problems related to substance abuse, gluttony and for giving up smoking. (Pease & Fook, 1999) In some areas of counselling, which deal with addiction, for example, with users of hard drugs, counsellors engaged in social work practice, function side by side, with sets of legal restrictions and moral issues. (Pease & Fook, 1999) 


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