Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Summary #3 from my social services text

H. Wayne Johnson
Working with Individuals and Families
Chapter Seventeen
Janet Johnson Laube

In “Working with Individuals and Families”, Janet Johnson Laube covers the multiple needs approach to family social work. She shows how today's social worker tries to focus on the strengths and not the flaws of the people involved, as was done prior to the 1960s (p 305). She also discusses the primary theoretic orientations social workers can work from.

In casework the aim of any social worker is to achieve a working balance between the conflicting needs of individuals and family units. This requires balancing the needs of self and others, aloneness and connectedness and the demands of personal expression and social survival (p. 304). To achieve this, coping must happen on many levels. The physical needs such as food, clothing, sleep, medical care, housing, etc. must be tended to first. For these needs to continue to be met, the economic needs and coping skills must be strengthen, including educational well-being. Then there is social coping skills that need to be addressed, along with the psychological coping skills. When the physical, economic, social and psychological needs are balanced, then the social worker has achieved their goal (p.306 - 308).

The theoretic orientations a social worker may take towards achieving their goal can be one or more of the following approaches. The psychodynamic approach where therapists help individuals modify their personality structures and strengthen ego functioning. The cognitive-behavioral approach where irrational thinking patterns and maladaptive behaviors are identified and altered. The interactional approach where individuals develop authentic relationships in which their self-concepts are strengthened by clear communication. The ecological systems approach which focuses on the relationships among biological, social, psychological and cultural factors that lead to the problem. The costructivist approach is an interactive relationship between social worker and client to find solutions.And lastly, the feminist approach which requires the social worker to recognize and respond to the effects of nonequal power distributions (p.310).

This article gives the reader a useful structure for dealing with the needs of those with serious problems that require the assistance of a social worker. It also gives a good matrix for the approaches a social can take to meeting some of those needs. While some people may rely heavily on one approach, it might be useful to remember all of the approaches and modify which is used based on the situation.

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