This assignment will focus on the key issues socially, economically and personally for the Hughes family, also the two methods of social work intervention I will use to assist with elevating issues, task-centred practice and crisis intervention. I will endeavour to critically analyse the effectiveness of these approaches and I will then provide an analysis of the similarities between them. Within this assignment I will also discuss anti-discriminative practice and anti-oppressive practice (ADP, AOP) with an overall view to social work practice and how oppression can be addressed.
Social work has changed dramatically from the Poor Law Victorian times to our present day however, involvement still appears to focus mainly on the lower levels of societies hierarchy, as Becker and Macpherson (1988) & Schorr (1992) state in Dominelli et al (42:2002) 'whether the client is old or young, able bodied or with special need, an offender, a single parent, an abused child or partner, black or white, clients are most likely to be poor and most likely to be drawn from those sections of the population which enjoy the least status, security and power'.
The family reside in local authority housing within a rundown and poverty struck area and are currently in receipt of a letter stating eviction procedures may commence, leaving them homeless. Carol has mild learning disabilities and is 7 months pregnant, Paul suffers from depression and both have limited reading skills preventing them form liaising effectively with the housing department. The family are being discriminated against by other residents due to the condition of their house and they are predominantly dependant on benefits due to unemployment and appear to struggle when managing their finances. Devon's, family and social relationships are now influencing his emotional and behavioural development, which is impacting on the family. Pauline appeared to be the main carer for the family, whilst ignoring her own needs however, at present she is no longer able to offer assistance in meeting the families needs. There are no extended family members or friends to offer support and they appear isolated. The family seem to have no social integration or knowledge of the resources available to them within their community.
Carol and Paul have very limited parenting skills with what appears to be, no understanding of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of their children. Carol's mild learning disability and Paul's depression seem to prevent them implementing boundaries, guidance, safety and stimulation. Carol and Paul appear to be unable to meet the basic care of the children without the assistance from others and did rely on Pauline heavily. Pauline is no longer able to offer any support and she too has serious concerns over the welfare of the children and about who will assist with meeting the children's basic needs.
William was regularly attending a toddler group, with his grandmother, which gave him the opportunity to mix with his peers and seek activities that were age appropriate, this he is now unable to do and subsequently stays home. William now appears to have limited social and parental interaction, maybe an attachment issue, and seems to entertain himself within the home due to lack of stimulation.
Devon's father is deceased and he is now requesting contact with his father's other family members. Devon appears to require support with his emotional and behavioural development and exploring his own identity, as he is becoming extremely angry, resulting in physical aggression. Devon is also experiencing forms of discrimination and bullying whilst at school due to his mother's disability, which is also influencing his behaviour. Devon appears to struggle when presenting himself in social relationships and has recently been given an ASBO.
'Poverty, economic deprivation and social exclusion impact the skills and resources that families can develop to participate, with many families only able to gain help on an individualistic, crisis management basis'. Dominelli et al (134:2002).
Task-centred practice is a reasonably new concept, emerging in the 1960s and appears to be a popular method when supporting individuals. Previous to the implementation of task-centred practice, many individuals received long-term intervention and the social workers focused on feelings when offering support rather than action, for problem solving, as Buckle (1981) states in, Coulshed & Orme (158:1998) 'consequently some clients received help for years and compulsive care-giving by helpers often resulted in the difficulties of becoming the responsibility and 'property' of the worker'. I would therefore suggest that this form of intervention could possibly lead to Seligman's animal/human experimental theory of 'learned-helplessness', M. Payne (304:2005) were the individual becomes dependent on the social worker and refuses to accept the belief that they can fend for themselves.
The concept of task-centred practice originated in the USA in 1969 by Reid and Shyne, this came about through psychodynamic theories and the response opposed to them. Studies showed that when both short term and long term support were offered, individuals on planned short-term treatment (PSTT) improved quicker than those on continued service due to focusing on limited goals rather than open ended work and improved motivation from all parties involved. Coulshed and Orme reiterate the above and conclude this element of their study by stating 'the latter tended to deteriorate' and that if 'help is extended beyond a certain point, clients may lose confidence in their own ability to cope' (159:2006). Task-centred work involves working in collaboration with individuals, to agree on specific goals/outcomes whilst identifying what steps need to be undertaken to achieve these. This will then allow the worker to gain a clearer perspective as to whether the individual has the necessary skills, confidence and knowledge to successfully achieve the set goals as Trevithick explains ' this helps us to see what role we might need to play in this collaborative endeavour' (184:2000).
To use task-centred work the worker needs to have professional working knowledge and ability to interact with individuals. The aptitude to use systematic communication styles, as specified by Reid and Epstein (1972) in Coulshed and Orme, 'that as well as having to keep the client to the agreed task at hand, so as to reach the target problem, the worker also has to remain empathic to the client's messages, respecting his/her right to self determination'. (161:2006)
I would also consider that task-centred intervention may be linked to crisis intervention and depending on the client, social worker and circumstances, that crisis intervention may be deemed more appropriate than task-centred work. The term 'crisis' is described in Coulshed & Orme (134:2006) as: "either a threat, loss or a challenge."
Crisis intervention originated within the field of mental health by Caplan (1964) and applied theoretical perspectives based particularly on ego psychology and the psychodynamic theory with Caplan working on the notion of preventive psychiatry. Caplan constructed a three-stage plan of intervention which Chui. W and Ford, D (2000) refer to in Stepney. P & Ford. D, they state that 'they are Caplan's three phases of crisis and Roberts' seven stages of working through crisis...both appear to see crisis as having a structure which can be broken down into specific ...stages of intervention' (145:2000).
I would suggest that a crisis can only be perceived as a crisis to the individual; what is necessarily seen, as a crisis to one person may not be a crisis to another and Chiu, W & Ford, D (2000) reiterate this again in Stepney. P & Ford. D, stating, 'different people may think of a crisis in many different ways and the cornerstone in understanding the nature and impact of a crisis situation depends largely on the feelings, perceptions and responses of an individual...practitioners thus need to be open minded and sensitive in order to understand the immediate concerns and worries of those involved' (121:2000).
I would suggest the application of crisis intervention often involves the skills required within the person-centred model. The relationship between the social worker and client needs to be a two way process. Crisis intervention is based on the notion of short-term intervention. This process would normally take about six sessions, however this can be re-evaluated during the period of resolution.
These two methods of intervention will focus on supporting Paul however, firstly I will ensure the 'National Occupational Standards for Social Work' (NOSSW) (2004) key roles and the 'General Social Care Council' (GSCC) (2002) code of conduct , are adhered to as these are the values and ethics which are essential to competent social work practice. With the implementation of both Task-centred Practice and Crisis Intervention, I would ensure Paul is treated as an individual, with respect and he fully understands that his participation is paramount in order to progress and with his contribution in assessing and clarifying issues, the planning of order they are addressed with importance to him, are essential. (1.1-1.6:2004). That small goals to aim for will be introduced, how they will assist him and his family and that regular reviews will take place to ensure these goals are accomplished. I will be honest of what my expectations will be, of what Paul can expect from the service being offered and I will endeavour to involve Paul in all decision making, ensure contact is maintained, listen actively and communicate with Paul so as to prevent any confusion. (2.1-2.7: :2004)
Initially I would arrange a meeting with the housing department and attend with Paul as his advocate, then it can be explained that future correspondence may have to be via telephone or a housing officer visiting, due to limited reading skills, until assistance from community resources can be obtained. (3.3.1:2004)
Introduce Paul to the resources available and assessable within his community which will assist his family, these being, Sure Start, Youth Clubs, Parent and toddler Groups or Community Centres as they offer support workers who could assist with skills building. (6.6.7:2004)
Explain to Paul that he needs to address the condition of the home for a couple of hours a day, so as to adhere with local authority housing guidelines, to prevent eviction which inevitably would leave the family homeless, avoid health and safety issues for his family and empower himself. (1.1.3:2004)
Also, for Paul to actively seek employment as this will enable the family to have an income whilst assist with social integration, which would influence his self esteem and enable him to support his family financially. (1.2.6:2004)
With the Crisis-Intervention method I would commence with assisting Paul to addressing his feelings of depression, as he seems to lack motivation and struggles to get out of bed some mornings, an essential requirement needed on all levels in order to progress. I would encourage Paul to seek medical advice from his GP, as this will enable him to be medically assessed, receive appropriate treatment and aid him with becoming more functional within his family unit. (1-6:2004)
I would assist Paul with his own personal obstacles which effect his ability to support his wife, children and other responsibilities within the family unit. (1.1.1:2004)
Seek support for Paul to address the inner feelings towards Devon's requests of extended family contact and his physical aggression displayed.(1.1.3 :2004)
Introduce Paul to parenting classes as this will empower him and give him the ability to assist with his children and allow him the opportunity to understand that both mother and father are responsible for their own children. (1.1.6 :2004)
Task-Centred Practice and Crisis Intervention would promote Paul's independence, respect and promote his individual views, promote equal opportunities and his values, whilst protecting his interests and rights, as outlined in the NOSSW (2004)and GSCC(2002).
Most agency policies will promote short-term intervention. This may be due to the short-term intervention strategies within the structure of task-centred practice and crisis intervention, allowing more service users to access services. However, it could also be construed as cost effectiveness, due to the minimal amount of intervention with quality outcomes and could enhance an agencies ability to be funded successfully. However, the use of these interventions could have its limitations, as Trevithick states 'it may not be possible, because of limited resources or time, to assemble all the elements necessary for positive change to occur' (185:2000), therefore these approaches may not viable or optional within some social service departments. With such short term involvement workers could also be perceived as being invasive and directive, raising questions of whether there are ethical issues, empowerment for the client and whether their rights at the centre of the decision-making process, as reiterated by Trevithick (185:2000). Trevithick also states that task-centred practice may not establish the root of issues due to the time scale being worked too and some clients may not have the ability or emotional energy to commit to this approach, this I suggest can be said also for crisis intervention (183:2000).
Whilst, evaluating task-centred and crisis intervention I would suggest that there is a strong connection between both theories. Epstien (1992) in M. Payne (99:2005) states that he " treats both examples of a range of brief treatment methods."
Gray (1987) in M. Payne (99:2005) also suggests a link between task-centred and client centred intervention and points out that both methods are structured and contracts between client and worker. I can again recognise the connection between both methods however, I would suggest that crisis intervention focuses upon the emotional responses and assist the client to move on, enabling them to deal with future crisis, which may arise. Task-centred work focuses on practical tasks in order to resolve problems.
As qualified Social Workers, working within a statutory organisation, they themselves would have to agree and adhere to policies and procedures. This could be defined as task-centred practice, by working and agreeing with the terms and conditions set out by the organisation.
As Social Workers, we have to work within a legal framework and by doing so may assist us in preventing discrimination. In relation to power, the social worker should have an awareness of self-knowledge and an understanding of social systems. They should also have an understanding of social groups and cultures and how we are to challenge such oppression on a personal, cultural or structural level, Dominelli defines anti-oppressive practice as ' a practice that aims to provide more appropriate and sensitive services by responding to peoples needs regardless of their social status' and goes on to say it's a practice that ' embodies a person-centred philosophy, an egalitarian value system concerned with reducing the deleterious effects of structural inequalities upon peoples lives' (6:2002). Everitt (1992) established a theory based on a six-point framework in relation to anti-oppressive practice. His theory is based on the awareness of self-knowledge and the understanding of social systems, an understanding of social groups and cultures and how we are to challenge such oppression on either a personal or a structural level. It is clear that social workers need to have a 'research mind' Everitt (1992) and to use action in their commitment to change society for the good.
The use of these six points help social workers to develop a clear understanding of power and oppression for them to develop anti-oppressive practice and adopt a multi-disciplinary approach when collaborating along side other professionals within our society. Multi-disciplinary working promotes a good sense of team identity, allows for sharing of skills and knowledge, co-working to be at the heart of the teams approach and the opportunity to carry out preventive and early intervention work. In 1989 the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work introduced Paper 30, which focused on AOP, ARP and ADP, requiring students to demonstrate an ability to work effectively with minority groups, an essential learning base for this profession and for future working practice with vulnerable clients within our society, as reiterated by Dominelli, (165:1997).
Adams. R, Dominelli. L and Payne. M. (2002) Critical Practice In Social Work. Palgrave Macmillian. Basingstoke.
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General Social Care Council 2002
Date accessed 18th February 2008.
Payne. M. (2005) Modern Social Work Theory: 3rd Edition. Palgrave Macmillian. Basingstoke.
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The National Occupational Standards for Social Work (2004)
Date Accessed 18th February 2008.
Thompson. N. (2000) Understanding Social Work: Preparing for Practice, Macmillan Press Ltd. Basingstoke.
Trevithick. P. (2000) Social Work Skills: a practice handbook, Open university Press. Berkshire.
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