Social work theory is an important aspectof social work practice.
The purpose of this assignment is to criticallydiscuss and analyse the relevance to two of these theories into practice usingthe Desai family. The three theories this assignment will look at is the strengthbased approach, the attachment theory and communication theory. It is essentialto look at these different theories as they are important dynamics that are crucialfor social workers to understand the society, individuals and politically andsocially influenced world in which they have to work in. The strength basedapproach will be and its assumptions will be explored in this case as itrelates to Molly Desai a married woman and mother of two children, Sammy andJayde and the attachment theory will be related to Sammy and JaydeStrength Based Approach A strength, or asset-based approach focuseson identifying people’s strengths, interests and capabilities. It enablesindividuals to identify what support is available from their community toassist them in meeting the outcomes they want to achieve (Department of Health,2017).
Focusing on problems seemed to belittled individuals as they weretreated without dignity and respect, which is incompatible with social workvalues and ethics. The former practice would also give social workers the powerto determine the individual’s problems as well as finding a solution for themwithout consulting the individual (Teater, 2014). The term strength, refers tothe capacity that one can cope with challenges and continue to function understressful conditions and how to maximise the social support offered to them (Greeneand Lee, 2002, in Teater, 2014). Any person or environmental attribute with thepotential to stimulate development and solutions can be a strength. Anindividual’s strengths can be their resilience, confidence, competences andaspirations. A community’s strengths can be its social networks, tangibleservices, opportunities and resources (Rapp and Goscha, 2011). Saleebey (2013)states that the strengths perspective has guiding assumptions namely; everygroup, individual and community have strengths. The purpose of thestrengths-based approach is to guard the individual’s resilience, independenceand ability to make choices (Great Britain Parliament, 2015).
The “ROPES” model is atool that has been developed to guide practitioners to continually draw onstrengths (Graybeal, 2001).The approach recognises that people are experts in their ownlives. The more clients use their abilities and assets, individually orcollectively, they discover the satisfaction in overcoming the difficulties. Asmore of individuals capabilities are practiced and incorporated into their dayto day life, they build on each other’s strengths reflecting a synergy(Saleebey, 1996).Rapp, Saleebey and Sullivan, inSaleebey (2006) cameup with 6 standards for determining what constitutes a strength based approach.
The standards are;Goal orientation: Strengths-based practice is goal orientedand individuals should set goals they would like to achieve in future.Strengths assessment: The individual is supported to recognisethe innate resources they have to overcome any difficulty or condition.Resources from theenvironment: In everyenvironment there are individuals, institutions and groups and that havesomething to give, that others may benefit from.
It is normally thepractitioner’s duty to enable links to these resources.Explicit methodsare used to identify client and environmental strengths to attain goals: Different methods will be used for each ofthe strengths-based approaches. For instance, in solution-focused therapyclients are encouraged to set goals before they identify their strengths,whereas in strengths-based case management, individuals go through a precise’strengths assessment’.The relationship ishope-inducing: Thestrengths based approach aims to increase the expectations of the individual.
Hopecan further be realised through strong relationships with other people,communities and culture.Meaningful choice: People are experts in their own lives andthe practitioner’s role is to broaden their choices, encouraging people to maketheir own informed choices and decisions.In Strengths-BasedCase Management focus is placed on the client’s strengths withthree other principles: Encouraging the utilization of informal supportivenetworks. Offering assertive community involvement. Highlight the partnershipbetween the case manager and the individual. This approach has been implementedin different fields including families and young people (Rutter, 1994).
Family support services offer services to families before their problemsbecome too significant. Family support includes taking action to supportfamilies where children’s welfare is under threat, promoting family life andbuilding parent’s existing strengths. Practitioners using this approach trustthat this benefits families by encouraging their involvement in the program.This increases family efficacy and empowerment, resulting in enhancing theirsocial support networks (Green, McAllister and Tarte, 2004) Narrative has been used to help clarifystrengths of individuals and communities. Practitioners using this approach believethat within any ‘problem’ narrative is a story of strength and resilience. Attimes when clients talk about their problems, they mention past experiences andhow successful they were. Social workers should always listen attentively topick up on strengths and later mention these to the individual in order toreflect on individuals past successes.
Rapport, trust and care can be nurturedin practitioner-service user relationships through naratives. On imparting an experience about theirpast, this benefits individuals as it can encourage personal growth as well as buildresilience and empowerment. This promotes new awareness of the self to emerge andhelps them shift away from the ‘illness’ that has defined them. Practitionersoften never deal directly with the problem being presented, but will search forways to strengthen the ability of the person to be resilient in the face of theproblem. A key part of this approach is recognising that some people may thinkof a problem as an integral part of their character. Separating the problemfrom the person by externalising it allows clients to face it in a constructiveway (Epston and White, 1992). Considerationneeds to be given when one is telling their situation because this has thepotential to be demoralising and disempowering to the individual (Drumm 2013).
It isimportant to understand what makes Molly feel better and what her good daylooks like. What makes her happy, as well as what activities she engages inwhen she is not ill. How does Molly manage her condition and what services doesshe find useful? Musson (2017) states that individuals can identify achievableobjectives for themselves that can help in improving their situation and thisrelates for Molly. Involving Molly and Giving Molly the opportunity to identifywhat she feels will improve her situation, will potentially empower her becauseonly she will know what is best for her. Mollyappears to have a good relationship with her sister. This may stimulate herstrength. Her sister is there to listen to her and support her with somehousehold chores when she needs the help. It is important to know how oftenMolly sees her sister.
Although Molly’s parents do not want to have arelationship with her, she has continued with her marriage to her husband andthey have two children. She has continued to go on despite critical factors inher life (Wolin and Wolin, 1993). This shows resilience. She has developed copingstrategies to help her for the past 14 years to maintain her marriage, despitethe lack of social support from her family (GlenMaye, 1998). However, if she wereto reconnect with them, this will broaden her external resources and her familymay provide her with additional support. Molly’s husband and her children canbe her current source of strength because they appear to be her support network. Mollycan find strength in Jayde as she also takes care of Sammy when Jake is atwork.
Jayde appears to be coping with the situation. She can help her motherwith certain household tasks. Dowling (2014) talks of the significance of arole model in child development and how children learn behaviour by observingother people or their role models. This may relate to Jayde and how she hastaken the role of the caregiver.
She may have learnt this by observing hermother before she fell ill. Mollycould work part time, or do some voluntary work in the community. This would beher competencies and possibilities. This will enable her to leave the house andgo out into the community and regain a sense of self-worth. She could joinsupport groups in her community for multiple sclerosis which will enable her tomeet with other people in similar circumstances and learn how they cope. Socialworkers can promote empowerment by promoting social justice and advocating forresources and opportunities for marginalised individuals (Teater, 2014).The strength based approach has no prospects of attemptingto improve one’s weaknesses. For individuals to be empowered and the strengthsperspective to work, Pease and Fook, in Payne (2014) believe that societiesneed transformation to benefit the oppressed people, adding on that disadvantagedand excluded people will not experience social empowerment if there is notransformation in society.
This includes challenging the unjust socialconditions that contribute to the troubles experienced by service users (Healy, 2011).Foot and Hopkins(2010) further cite that by investing in the skills of its local people, thelocal authorities focus on community development by putting together stronger,more sustainable communities. Similarly, (Gilchrist 2009) supports thesignificance of building networks within communities, enabling individuals,families and the wider community to develop a ‘resilience’ that leads to asense of well-being and greater quality of life. Payne (2014) elaboratedthat the theory is over optimistic to anticipate major changes even when theentire community is surrounded by poverty and social exclusion.
Having apositive outlook alone does not recognise the reality that individuals aroundthem are going through problems. AttachmentAttachment theory is the work of Bowlby and Ainsworth(1992) and it was developed to understand a child’s attachment to the mother,and the repercussions of separation and deprivation. Ainsworth developed theidea of secure and insecure attachment. She put forward that children withsecure attachments play happily when their primary caregiver is present,protest when they leave and go to them for comfort when they return.Attachment theory’s mainpoints states that children are born with a natural need to feel loved andneeded.
It was first brought about by Bowlby (1969). He believed that byforming an attachment with a powerful figure would reduce vulnerability byincreasing security and protection. Bowlby wrote that when children experienceseparation from their main attachment figure, they will likely more emotionaldifficulty in forming meaningful social relationships (Bowlby 1958, cited inLishman 2007). Attachment is perceived as a fundamental component in youngchildren’s lives, as these experiences impact their emotional and socialstability and well-being later in life.
If children experience negativeattachments they do not develop adequate relationships with their caregivers,leading to serious repercussions on their psychological and emotionaldevelopment (Walker, and Crawford 2014). Theorists say attachment behavioursare exhibited in childhood through laughing, crying and talking (Walker, andCrawford 2010). Ainsworth’s “StrangeSituation”, experiment, supported Bowlby’s theory of behaviour and this ledto the development of three different styles of attachment; secure attachment;ambivalent-insecure attachment and avoidant insecure attachment. The threepotential styles of attachment allow contradictory levels of attachment with acaregiver, explaining why low attachment levels affect feelings, emotions andbehavioural patterns among children (Mercer, 2006). Ainsworth learned thatchildren who displayed insecure attachment may portray one of the followingpatterns avoidant, ambivalent, disorganised or anxious preoccupation. Normallyabused or neglected children are more likely to show insecure patterns of this attachment.Avoidant; where children displaydistress at separation with caregiver and appear not to display different behaviourbetween a stranger and the care-giver.
AmbivalentChildren display anxiety before separation, distress during it, and afterwardsappear to want comfort from the care-giver, however showing resistance tocomfort. Disorganised, isdemonstrated with different reactions where the child may show conflictingbehaviour patterns for instance, looking away whilst being held. The childappears confused and does not feel comforted by the care-giver. Anxious preoccupation is insecureattachment identified by Downes (1992) and is characterised by an anxiouspreoccupation when the carer is present. McCabe (2004) affirmed that children,daughters in particular of parents with MS seem to take more responsibility forhelping their ill parent. It is believed that personality changes of the parentfor instance increased neuroticism, may have an influence on the psychologicalregulation of children and not all the children are affected negatively bytheir parents’ condition.
This can relate to Jayde and how she helps out bytaking care of her brother, when both parents are unable to. Before Molly fell ill, Jayde could have felt loved andvalued by her and they could have developed a strong attachment, leading toJayde developing perhaps a high level of self-esteem and may be more confidentand independence. Bandura (2008) self-efficacy,talks about how social interactions and learning from others influencesindividuals and how this can be positive or negative. According to Bate andRobert (2006) it is important to have conversations with children about changesthat are going to happen in their lives. Sammy may not understand why his mother is nothis primary caregiver anymore and this may be a contributing factor to hisaggressive behaviour. However, if he was reassured about his mother’s conditionand the circumstances in the household, maybe he would not display this behaviour.If he is aware of this, it may support him with the transition and he will haveconfidence to face this new situation being presented to him and the entirefamily. De Judicibus and McCabe (2004) elaborated that the majority ofparents with Multiple Sclerosis felt that their condition had an effect ontheir children.
However, Jayde and Sammy appear to have a meaningful attachment,however it is vital to understand how caring for her little brother is becauseshe’s a child herself.Ruisard (2016) says that it is vital toacknowledge that although attachment theory appears to be a popular theory, ithas its short comings. Kegan (2011) challenges one of the assumptions ofattachment theory, that the quality of attachment one encounters as a child canhave a permanent affect on them for the rest of their lives without paying anyattention to the child’s future endeavours and experiences. He goes on tomention that there is no research to support the statement that experiences inearly childhood have an impact on the child’s ability to develop healthyrelationships in adulthood. Kegan also disapproves of the theory because itfails to recognize that culture, social class, ethnicity, and gender have aninfluence on an individual’s personality development (Kegan 2011).Hewitt (2013) criticises Bowlby’s attachment theory becauseit prioritizes the relationship between mother and child. He does not considerthe father, yet it is possible for children to form attachments with theirfathers as well as other individuals within their lives. Developingrelationships with other people apart from the primary caregiver is importantbecause it reduces dependency and limits other relationships to be formed,which can hinder the social and emotional development of the child.
Therefore,the system cannot be justified because it is incomplete. CommunicationSocial work relies greatly on communication to identifyproblems and come up with solutions related to social behaviours. Social workersshould have the ability to stir conversations with the clients intoconversations of strengths, capabilities and resilience. The clients should beencouraged to speak positively about their experiences.
Practising effective communicationenables social workers to work more efficiently with clients, resulting in thembeing offered more opportunities. The Munro Review (2011) mentioned that socialworkers fail to engage with men, therefore important information about a childcan be missed and the case not assessed effectively. The essential aspects of communication are tone of voice,body language, listening skills, observation, motivating and retaininginformation. These skills are important from the time we introduce ourselves toclients and their families. A social worker needs to be exclusive and set thetone and clearly state the purpose of their visit. It is vital to be friendly andaccommodating ensuring clients that their contribution is appreciated,therefore easing the assessment process (David and West, 2006). It is important to maintain pleasant eye contact;however cultural differences should be considered.
Verbal and non-verbal communication isembedded in the core of social work. It is made use of in all aspects of socialwork and is an essential part of the job. Communication is used for children,people with disabilities, mental health, elderly and drug and alcohol abuse. Itis essential to build relationships, create solutions and to formulate plansfor clients. It is imperative that social workers continuously improve theseskills.
A social worker should have an active listening ability,combining speaking and listening skills assuring the service user that youunderstand their situation, motivates them to develop trust in the socialworker (Cournoyer, 2011). Positive body language and speech will to enable theclient to engage in the conversation. Body language is expressed through bodymovement and facial expression which portray emotion. Non-verbal communicationis expressed by our gestures, expressions, actions and posture. Effectivecommunication involves nodding your head to affirm that you are following theconversation. However, they should also pay attention to the service users bodylanguage to detect signs of deception, aggression, withholding information, orif they seem pleased with the situation. Pathak and Joshi (2010) stated thatwhen there is a change in an individual’s breathing or one holds their breath, thismight imply fear, whereas shallow hasty breathing might reflect irritation. Disguisedcompliance is common among carers or parents of vulnerable people and children.
NSPCC (2010) states that carers and parents appear to cooperate with agenciesin order to avoid suspicion, whereas they will be impeding practitioners fromunderstanding the severity of the situation. The assessmentprocess should be natural, and clients should not feel like they are beingconsidered as another number by using a checklist. Clients may find thisoppressive if not treated as an individual. Using open ended questions isconsidered more effective than leading and closed questions because it enablesclients to expand on their responses and provide information that the socialworker may not have considered to ask the client (Hepworth et al, 2010). Whenconducting the interview, one must be mindful that too many questions may givethe client a feeling of being put on the spot. However, too few questions couldlead to the interview off tangent. Usingtechnical jargon or slang are barriers in communication that clients would notbe able to understand.
Norburn (2013) acknowledged potential barriers thatcould affect communication, and these are time and workload. Practitioners mayrequire more time and resources than usual in order to communicate effectivelywith children and certain service users. A child’s age and stage of developmentmay potentially be a barrier because babies communicate through non-verballanguage, toddlers and preschool children have limited concentration spans orare just reluctant to engage.
Some practitioners may experience hostility fromparents who may not allow them to speak to their children alone. To avoid thisa social worker can arrange to visit the child at school with a practitioneralready known to the family like a health visitor. Some children and individualshave additional needs for instance English can be their second language.Practitioners will need to be guided by other professionals who know how bestto communicate with the child or client.
If a social worker decides to workwith an interpreter Shackman et al, (1995) stated that it is important toverify that the service user and interpreter speak the same dialect. Theyshould understand the purpose of the interview and should translate what isbeing said by both parties without adding their own opinions. The environmentshould be conducive to have effective communication. A chaotic, noisyenvironment can destruct the child; therefore, it can be helpful if anassessment or observation can be carried out in a setting that is morefavourable. Toconclude this essay, research has shown that it is possible to match a client’sstrengths and opportunities towards their desired objectives. Healthprofessionals can therefore assist clients develop an insight into their innerstrengths, ongoing resilience and wellbeing.
I have realised that strength based approach indeed encouragesindividuals to feel good about themselves as this appears to work for Molly. Onthe other hand, attachment theory has positives, however the negatives are thatit appears inconclusive. Social deprivation seems to create a reaction to individualsespecially children, hence the emphasis why attachment connection plays animportant role in child development.