Social Work Practice With Individuals Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1752 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Anthropology

Social Work With Individuals

According to Kirst-Ashman and Hull (2009, p. 147), the engagement stage of the social worker's relationship with the client is the first contact stage. This is a crucial stage, during which the basis for future interaction is established. It is therefore vitally important that the social worker displays the appropriate level of care and warmth to make a true connection with the client.

The authors note that this contact can be established either by phone or in person. However, if I put myself in a client's position, I believe I would prefer the first contact to be in person. This is the best way to establish the necessary personal contact to provide a basis for future contact sessions. Factors such as facial expression and other body language elements will play a crucial role in my initial ability to establish a personal and appropriately close relationship with my social worker. This is important to me, because a problem that requires the intervention of a social worker is most likely to be very personal, which would not only require close and regular personal contact with the professional, but also a sense that he or she understands my specific concerns and feelings regarding the issues I am facing and the help I need.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Social Work Practice With Individuals Assignment

During this first contact, Kirst-Ashman and Hull (2009, p. 147) suggest a number of actions that the social worker should take to inspire the client's confidence. The social worker must, for example, greet the client in a way that encourages a willingness to communicate. The professional should also communicate his or her interest in the situation the client faces and discuss the services that can be offered to help the client successfully. These are all good actions, but the way in which the authors describe them seems a little clinical. If I were in a client's shoes, I would not want a social worker who considered the engagement phase to be a duty, for which a list of actions need to be remembered. Instead, I would prefer a person who can display genuine, rather than learned warmth and understanding. For this reason, I find Walsh's (2010, p. 235) suggestions a little more appropriate. The author suggests that the engagement stage should be characterized by an accepting attitude, where the social worker suspends all judgments and interpretations to build an alliance with the client.

I would prefer my social worker to display this type of accepting attitude towards me and my situation. Because I am ultimately the person who will have to take responsibility for finding the most appropriate solutions to my situation, my social worker will need to help me find these solutions, rather than imposing the solutions that he or she would have chosen if faced with a similar situation. In other words, I would like my social worker to provide me with the tools to retain as much autonomy as possible while working through my issues. At the end of the work, I would consider the work successful if I can use my own resources to find my own solutions, independently of professional help. I would therefore consider this a learning experience, for which my social worker will be the teaching agent.

Walsh goes on to state that the social worker should take a collaborative approach, where no specialized knowledge is displayed regarding the issues the client faces. Instead, the main goal is to display a sense of enthusiasm for working with the client to find the most appropriate solutions that fit both the client's personality and the situation that is at issue. As mentioned, this is precisely what I would be looking for when I am in the role of the client.

This is what Coady and Lehman (2007, p. 72) refer to as a "good helping relationship." In summary, what this would mean for me is that the social worker will be entirely focused upon listening to my explanation of the issues I'm facing, my expectations of the helping relationship, and what I think I can contribute to the effort. In turn, the help offered must focus on my concerns rather than on how the social worker would handle the problem in a similar situation.

Part II

The client I selected is a young, black homosexual man who is looking for help with his substance abuse problems and the violence that often accompanies this. He does not have a significant support structure in terms of family. Nor does he have any depth of faith in a higher power. The only social system in which he is engaged is his friends, who led him into the substance abuse habit in the first place.

If I were in a social work position with a client like this, I would also be faced with significant differences in terms of support and value systems. In the light of what was said above, the client would most likely not be responsive to how I would prefer to handle this problem had it been my own. I would, for example, rely on my two basic support systems, which include my family and my faith in God. Neither of these are important support systems for my client. I would therefore have to take this into account in my engagement phase with him.

Dhooper and Moore (2000, p. 33) provide five general principles when creating a culturally competent basis of practice with a client. The first of these is an acknowledgement of diversity in terms of race, culture, and ethnicity. My client would, for example, prefer me to suspend all judgments that could be based on my own race and background while I listen to his explanation of his problems and the way in which he intends to handle them. The second principle is to conduct a cross-cultural self-assessment to understand how my own culture and background shapes my feelings and responses to my client's situation. This is important, because only in understanding my own issues and basic attitudes can I actively suspend them to be of help to my client. Because of the significant differences in my own and my client's cultures and orientations, I will have to cultivate my own understanding of my client's expectations of the therapeutic relationship and the type of help he expects me to provide. While I can create a basis for this by preliminary research, I believe the most effective understanding I can cultivate is by means of communicating with my client. It is therefore especially important that I provide my client with a sense of confidence by encouraging that he provides the initial input in the conversation. To do this, I would display an attitude of warmth, friendliness, understanding, and eagerness to help my client find solutions to his problems. In this way, I would adapt my skills, knowledge and actions to the principles that my client considers important. He may, for example, not have a strong basis of faith, but loyalty may be one of his strongest principles. I can then use this to help him cultivate healthier social relationships to help support his efforts at rehabilitation.

Dhooper and Moore (2000, p. 33) also note that the three elements that begin a successful helping process include a workable, warm relationship, and atmosphere of acceptance and understanding, and visible confidence that the social worker can help the client develop constructive problem-solving skills.

My attitude towards the client would therefore be one of complete acceptance, understanding, and a willingness to help him find his own long-term solutions. This is the reason for his seeking my help in the first place; to develop skills that can help him remain in a constructive and contributing member of society in general and his community in particular.

In summary, I will cultivate a relationship with the client that meets his needs in both the short- and long-term. In the short-term, I will need to suspend all personal judgments to provide my client with a sense of understanding and confidence. In the long-term, I will provide him with the tools he needs to reconstruct his life, which will fit his particular culture, orientation and principles.

Part III

The general principles of the two situations described above are similar. As human beings, we need a platform of understanding from professionals whose work it is to help us. As I would appreciate a sense of understanding from my social worker, I believe my client would appreciate the same from me. Because we are different human beings from different cultures, the specific manifestations of these relationships would be different.

I, for example, would appreciate if my social worker used my most important values, including my faith, my family and my culture, to help build a healthy basis from which to build my own problem-solving skills. Ideally, these will then become part of my long-term set of skills to help me eventually handle my challenges on my own.

In the same way, my client would most likely appreciate if I found something… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Social Work Practice With Individuals" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Social Work Practice With Individuals.  (2011, March 30).  Retrieved January 27, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Social Work Practice With Individuals."  30 March 2011.  Web.  27 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Social Work Practice With Individuals."  March 30, 2011.  Accessed January 27, 2021.