Essay paper on social work intervention theories

This short study takes up the evaluation and assessment of two social work intervention theories, namely the Task Centred Approach and the Crisis Intervention Method, with special regard to their implications and applications for social work practice.

Social workers, in the course of their practice, are often called upon to help people in coping and dealing with different types of difficulties in their lives. Human beings face situations of crisis at one time or the other during their lives (Roberts, 2000, p 11). The crisis theory postulates that the occurrence of crises is normal to life. Such crisis situations can occur suddenly, like family illnesses or a loss of jobs, or be unpredictable, like entering school or growing older (Roberts, 2000, p 11). Individuals attempt to cope with crises with their available mechanisms, but face problems when such mechanisms do not work or when earlier unresolved crises get reactivated. Social workers are often called upon to intervene with individuals and help them in coping with their crises (Roberts, 2000, p 11).

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The is a progressive and goal-orientated method for social work practice. It constitutes a practice-based approach that is built on research and is being used in a diverse settings and circumstances (Nash, et al, 2005, p 33).It represents a social work method wherein clients are assisted in carrying out problem reducing tasks within . It is structured, problem focused and time-restricted and is being increasingly used in contemporary social service interventions (Nash, et al, 2005, p 33).

Crisis intervention is often grouped together with the . Malcolm Payne (1991, p 4) sees significant common ground between crises intervention and to social work practice. Both methods focus on problem solving, deal with brief interventions and are related to learning theory.

This essay takes up the examination and assessment of these two theories, with especial regard to their communalities, their differences and their relevance for social work practice. Due regard is given to the implications of anti-oppressive practice.

2. Crisis Intervention Theory

The crisis theory states that it is important for people to resolve their crises situations and experiences in order to cope with new developments and crises (Aguilera, 1998, p 47). If individuals are unable to resolve their earlier crises, they become more vulnerable to inability to resolve new crises. Individuals who learn new skills to resolve their crises are on the other hand strengthened in coping with future crisis situations (Aguilera, 1998, p 47). Human beings have considerable capacities for handling or dealing with difficult situations. It is only when such difficulties assume significant proportions and people do not have appropriate resources, personal, emotional, social, spiritual or physical, to deal appropriately with stressful circumstances or events that they become involved in crises. Difficult or stressful events do not by themselves result in crisis situations (Aguilera, 1998, p 47). Crises are actually determined by the responses of individuals to specific stressful circumstances or events and their responses to them. Crises develop only when individuals perceive specific events to be significant and threatening, try to handle such events with their usual coping strategies without success, and are not able to use other alternatives (Aguilera, 1998, p 47).

Behavioural and psychological experts perceive crises to be akin to states of psychological disequilibrium. Individuals experiencing crises are likely to experience a range of emotions like feelings of apprehension, anxiety, fear, guilt and helplessness (Nash, et al, 2005, p 37). Other indicators include alterations in eating and sleeping patterns, activity and energy levels and ability to concentrate. People in crises are also commonly known to suffer from depression and withdraw from social intervention (Nash, et al, 2005, p 37). Social work experts argue that whilst the majority of crises run their course or reach some semblance of stability within one or two months, it is necessary for skilled intervention to take place to strengthen the coping mechanisms of individuals. The failure to do so will result in the existence and continuance of crisis associated behaviours, even as the opportunity for change will be forgone (Nash, et al, 2005, p 37).

People in crisis often have little by way of solutions and are receptive to external help and assistance (Roberts, 2000, p 19). The provisioning of skilled intervention by social work practitioners during the occurrence of the crises can result in opportunities for individuals experiencing crisis to learn new skills, achieve beneficial behavioural change, and regain stability. Individuals who have been able to successfully cope with crises are strengthened by such experiences and can use their skills in future times of difficulty (Roberts, 2000, p 19).

Crisis intervention is essentially a professional response that is limited in terms of time and is used to assist individuals, families, and groups (Hepworth, et al, 2002, p 83). Social workers aim to assess the openness of individuals experiencing crises to learning of new skills and mechanisms for coping. They also help individuals in reducing their feelings of helplessness, isolation, and distress and use social resources to help in restoring individuals to their prior functional levels, as soon as practically possible (Hepworth, et al, 2002, p 83). Such social work intervention is done through listening, validation, acceptance, normalisation, reassurance, education, advocacy and brokering resources (Nash, et al, 2005, p 38). Crisis intervention can be specifically segregated into 7 stages, namely (a) establishment of communication and development of feelings with individuals that circumstances can become better, (b) assessment of situation, (c) exploration of available strengths and resources, (d) goal setting with the use of such strengths and resources, (e) implementation of plan, teaching of new skills and mobilisation of other support if required, (f) evaluation and adjustment of the plan and (g) follow up and termination of relationship (Hepworth, et al, 2002, p 83).

It is important for social workers to be skilled in crisis intervention because of the constant demand upon them for helping people in crisis situations (Roberts, 2000, p 19). Social workers are liable to encounter clients with diverse needs, which may in turn require research, strategic planning and the providing of individualised person centred support (Roberts, 2000, p 19). The nature of crisis intervention work also calls for confidentiality and emotional separation in order to deliver services in a professional manner (Roberts, 2000, p 19).

3. Task Centred Approach

The task centred approach emerged in response to the slow and inadequate results that were being achieved through traditional casework methods (Reid, 1997, p 134). Traditional casework methods in social work were felt to be of limited use because of their resource intensive nature, their lack of focus, and their ambiguous outcomes, which were difficult to assess and quantify (Reid, 1997, p 134). Reid and Shyne engaged in extensive study in the late 1960s to to casework and developed the task centred approach for social work practice, which called for limited but intensely focused intervention periods. The approach was essentially client oriented and required the social worker to act as a facilitator (Reid, 1997, p 134). With the task centred approach helping clients to improve their difficulties quickly, the process was soon adopted for replication and development in the United Kingdom (Reid, 1997, p 134).

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