Social Work Theories And Methods Pdf

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Social work theories are general explanations that are supported by evidence obtained through the scientific method.

Theoretical Approaches in Social Work: Systems Theory

Social work is a holistic evidence-driven practice that considers both the individual and his or her environment. Theories of human behavior underlie this profession's essential practices. In this article, we discuss the six most prominent. If you've chosen social work over other helping professions, it may be because you understand that social work is a scholarly, structured discipline.

Social work derives its structure from evidence-driven theories and practices. Using a more holistic model of intervention and assessment than do other mental-health practices, social work seeks remedies that consider not only the individual's needs but also the environment in which he or she is living.

If you're thinking about entering the profession, it's essential to understand the principles and theories that inform social work. Knowing where and how social work theory fits in can get confusing. Fortunately, we've done the hard work of breaking it down to provide you a guide. The Tulane University School of Social Work is a beacon of hope for anyone with the audacity to challenge the status quo and fight for people who have fallen through the cracks of society.

The Master of Social Work is committed to extending the School of Social Work experience to any student who wants to do work that matters, offering a variety of program options so students across the country can study at Tulane. These days, the stigma of mental illness is lessening. Almost everyone knows someone who has entered counseling. People seek help to break bad habits, recover from a breakup, or address a frightening spiral of depression. Learning about the theories utilized in social work is valuable in understanding how social workers help their clients live better lives.

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of theory, it's helpful to know that social work theory is used in some, but not all, social work practice areas. Social workers who engage in social policy or conduct research do not utilize social work theory, for example.

It's also important to note that as a social worker, you may wear a clinician's hat and utilize clinical theories at one moment, and then an administrator's hat at the next, helping a client apply for welfare benefits. This is where social workers earn a reputation as practical interventionists. It's tough to lift someone out of depression if they lack access to housing and healthcare. The ability to provide therapeutic counseling and also intervene on behalf of a client in their environment is the hallmark of social work practice and theory.

Moving in and out of these practice spheres is commonly known as micro, macro, and mezzo social work. If you're considering a career in social work, learning about these practice spheres and how social work theory fits in is crucial to understanding the broad touch that defines social work.

A good example of micro-to-mezzo work can be seen in how a social worker might help a high school student. Micro social work involves direct counseling with the student. If the school environment is a contributing factor, the social worker will assess what's going on in the classroom.

Is there bullying? This is mezzo social work. However, macro changes might be considered too. If the school culture does not support student well-being, perhaps an anti-bullying campaign would be proposed. Social work theory applies to the micro, mezzo, and macro practice spheres. A troubled school student would likely benefit from systems theory, which considers an individual's problems within the context of systems like the classroom, peers, and school.

We will discuss systems theory just a little further on. Social work theory is vital to the practice of social work. It professionalizes the field and differentiates social work from those that provide non-scientific methods of help. Social work theory provides social workers with the conceptual and theoretical tools to be competent in their approaches.

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According to the National Association of Social Workers NASW , clinical social work "is the professional application of social work theory and methods to the treatment and prevention of psychosocial dysfunction, disability, or impairment, including emotional and mental disorders.

It is based on knowledge of one or more theories of human development within a psychosocial context. In the social work profession, theory is utilized within a psychosocial context. What does that mean? Psychosocial context refers to the practice of assessing any individual within the ecosystem of their lives.

This is typically known as the person in the environment , or PIE for short. As the NASW explains: "Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living. PIE considers not just mental health but also environmental factors such as background, family relationships, social situation, education, income, race, and other circumstances that impact on well-being.

A social worker assessing the strengths and weaknesses of an older person suffering from depression and loneliness would rely on a PIE analysis to determine treatment. That plan might include relocating the client to a more-social residential environment rather than just offering psychotherapeutic counseling.

Beyond PIE, social workers integrate social work theories in the therapeutic relationship to improve an individual's well-being. Social work theories draw upon the fields of psychology and sociology and inform clinical practice. Social work employs six core theoretical frameworks: systems theory, transpersonal theory, psychosocial development theory; social learning theory, psychodynamic theory, and cognitive behavior theory.

Each is described below. Systems theory looks at human behavior and problems from the perspective of the individual in the context of complex and interrelated systems.

This holistic theory considers the needs, behavior, and experiences of all those interacting within the system. In systems theory, a social worker must consider all the factors within the system impacting the client and work to make that system healthy and supportive. Those in the system include both the client and members of the client's family, as well as networks and communities such as friends, counselors, teachers, mentors, classrooms, schools, and religious communities.

Systems theory also considers the effect of societal values on an individual. One example: from a mezzo and macro perspective, systems theory helps contextualize how young men in American are taught to suppress their emotions and take on an idealized version of masculinity. A male client seeking help with his feelings, battling anxiety, or experiencing relationship difficulties might be helped by a systems theory approach.

Similarly, LGBTQ individuals afraid to share their identities for fear of rejection given societal norms fall into a systems theory assessment. Both of these scenarios offer opportunities for remediation through a systems therapy modality. Systems theory might also be applied in assessing why an adolescent is acting out. A social worker would undertake an assessment of family dynamics and behavior.

They might ask: Is the teen being abused, neglected, or calling out for attention? What supports are in play? Assuming there is no underlying psychiatric disorder, the treatment plan would involve effecting a change between child and parents. Transpersonal theory considers the spiritual nature of human development and change as a treatment focus.

The approach was originated by Carl Jung. According to the psychology publication Good Therapy , transpersonal psychology theory " integrates the spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual, physical and creative being into one complete element and addresses the six components equally for the purpose of treatment. It strives to discover divinity through our own humanity and is a byproduct of a person's growth and development. A primary function of this treatment involves wisdom, acceptance, and forgiveness.

Transpersonal theory may be useful in combination with other therapies in offering clients peace and a sense of well-being. It may be best for those who are creative and spiritual by nature and aspire to a higher level of being. Individuals in need of acceptance and forgiveness may especially benefit from this modality. Psychosocial development theory emanates from Erik Erikson's work on psychosocial development and identity.

Erikson asserts that every individual passes through eight interrelated stages of life during their life cycle:. Starting at infancy to age 65 and older, each of these stages reflects a psychosocial crisis individuals encounter at some point in their development. These stages form a basis for understanding human behavior. Erikson's theory provides a developmental timetable for understanding the maturation of self. Social workers use Erikson's stages as a reference point for where a client is at in this maturation life cycle, and then use that as context to address stage-appropriate concerns and issues.

Social learning theory was established by Albert Bandura, who developed a behavioral model of change based on B. F Skinner's early behavioral theories. Bandura advanced Skinner's work by theorizing that individuals learn behavior from observation and modeling of that behavior.

For example, a young child who sees a parent abuse a partner or sibling is likely to emulate that behavior. Conversely, a child who sees a parent behave kindly and appropriately observes a positive behavior to imitate.

Social learning theory is a critical tool in helping social workers address destructive behaviors and habits. It offers opportunities for learning and imprinting new behaviors based on modeling healthier behaviors. The approach utilizes behavior modification, helping clients experience and model new behaviors to mitigate unhealthy behaviors.

Cognitive therapies like this are particularly useful in treating behavioral disorders where the original learned behavior is dysfunctional. Psychodynamic theory was originated by Sigmund Freud. It puts forth the idea that all human behavior and feelings are impacted by the conscious and unconscious mind. Freud identified the unconscious as made up of the id, the ego, and the superego, theorizing that all three determine thinking and behavior.

His insights were gleaned from what his patients shared during talk therapy sessions as Freud worked with them to resolve their conflicts. In psychodynamic theory, the id is defined as the primal part of our personality that seeks pleasure, avoids pain, and lacks filters. An example of pure id is a toddler in the throes of a tantrum. Young children have yet to develop the superego, which imparts impulse control and integrates societal expectations.

Freud identified the ego as the mediator working to strike a healthy balance between the primal tendencies of the id and the regulatory forces of the superego.

12 Common Social Work Theories

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While there are many theories in social work, systems theory is a unique way of addressing human behavior in terms of these multi-layered relationships and environments. The theory is premised on the idea that an effective system is based on individual needs, rewards, expectations, and attributes of the people living in the system. Systems theory in social work is based on the idea that behavior is influenced by a variety of factors that work together as a system. These factors include family, friends, social settings, economic class, and the environment at home. The fields of psychology, communication theory and psychiatry influence modern social work systems theory. University of Denver.

Social work centers around service and support for those in need of assistance. As a social worker , you'll help individuals and families advance their well-being, or you'll work to shape the policies impacting social conditions for communities and groups. You'll bring opportunity to individuals and hope to communities by providing them with the support, tools, and resources to function and thrive in their respective environments. But what does this mean exactly? And what does social work look like? How do social workers actually help people? These theoretical constructs and practice models demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of social work, and they paint a vivid picture of social work in action.

Theories Used in Social Work Practice & Practice Models

Yet social workers do draw upon a range of theoretical perspectives in their work, using theory to help understand and make sense of what is in reality a complex human world. As a social worker, studying different social work theories and social work practice models can help to bring you closer to your clients — equipping you with actionable insights that inform empathetic, evidence-based service. While there are many theories in social work, systems theory is a unique way of addressing human behavior in terms of these multi-layered relationships and environments. Social workers should familiarize themselves with five different psychological theories that play a role in social work practice. Orienting theories describe and explain behavior, particularly when it comes to how problems develop.

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Social Work Theories

Buy now. Delivery included to Germany. Barbra Teater author eBook 16 Sep This practical book provides a basic introduction to the most commonly used theories and methods in social work practice. The book explores the concept of a theory and a method, the difference between the two and the ways in which they are connected. Teater also discusses the social worker-client relationship and offers a handy overview of anti-oppressive practice. Assuming little to no prior knowledge, each chapter explores a single theory or method in depth and uses a variety of interactive tools to encourage you to explore your own thoughts and beliefs.

The 6 Social Work Theories That Inform Social Work Practice

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See our resources page for information, support and best practices. Due to the current restrictions in place, our inspection copy policy has changed. Each chapter allows the reader to relate the theories and methods discussed to their own personal experiences. This reader friendly book includes student questions, glossaries and recommended reading so that students and practitioners can reappraise and expand the knowledge they have learned.

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3 Response
  1. Amapola S.

    Social work is a holistic evidence-driven practice that considers both the individual and his or her environment.

  2. Marko D.

    supported by evidence obtained through the scientific method. Note: Payne () argues that social work theory succeeds best when it contains all.

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