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Alani, their social worker in the adoptions unit at a family services agency, is assisting them in completing the paperwork and helping them launch their new family life. Case B: Cassius, a social worker at a community mental health center, is about to start the weekly support group session. His seven clients all are dealing with spouses who have Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is characterized by deterioration of neurons in the brainstem and spinal cord. It involves loss of muscle function, paraly- sis, and finally death. The purpose of the group is to provide mutual emotional sup- port and share information about coping with the disease. Cassius facilitates the 3 Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 4 The Profession of Social Work group to keep things moving along and, when necessary, gives information about the disease. He notices that Erica, one of his clients, seems to be struggling to hold back a flood of tears. He knows that her husband, Tom, is deteriorating rapidly, so she must have had a rough week. This may be a difficult session. Case C: Lolita is exhilarated. Several hundred people have shown up for and are eagerly participating in this “Take Back the Night” march against sexual assault. Lol- ita, a social worker at a rape crisis center, was one of the primary organizers of the event. The march’s intent is to raise people’s consciousness about this serious issue, promote education about sexual assault, and increase funding for crisis centers. These vignettes portray brief moments in the actual lives of social workers. Some moments may be tremendously difficult, and others enormously satisfying. When you think of social work, what comes to mind? Helping people? Being on welfare? Facing bureaucratic red tape? Solving problems? Saving children? What do social workers actually do? I once visited a quaint little crafts shop in Bar Harbor, Maine. It had little shadow boxes, about five inches square, filled with tacks. On these tacks, someone had painted little symbols to reflect the tools, tasks, and people involved in various pro- fessions. For example, one shadow box reflecting dentistry had tacks painted with tiny teeth, big toothy smiles, and toothbrushes (which is probably no surprise). I man- aged to find a box for social work. What do you think was painted on those tacks? There were tiny images of the following: a Kleenex® box, a pencil, a compact car, a smiling face, a watch, and a heart. What do you think each of these are supposed to mean? Here are some ideas. The Kleenex box reflects how social workers help peo- ple deal with tough, and frequently very sad, issues. Sometimes clients are hurting badly, and sometimes they cry. The pencil signifies record keeping and paperwork, a mainstay of what social workers do. It probably should have been a computer, but the artist most likely couldn’t fit one on that little tack. The compact car symbolizes travel because social workers often must visit clients’ homes and other agencies. The smiling face signifies how social workers aim to help people solve their problems, to seek social justice on their behalf, and to make their lives a little bit better. (Social justice involves the concept that all citizens should be treated equally and have equal access to resources.) The watch reflects scheduling—there’s always a lot to do and limited time in which to do it. Finally, the heart symbolizes caring about the welfare of others: That’s the core of what the social work profession is all about. Learning Objectives A Define social work and social welfare. B Explain critical thinking and provide a framework for examining a wide range of concepts and issues. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 5 C Discuss residual, institutional, and developmental perspectives on social welfare. D Explain the conservative–liberal continuum with respect to viewing the social welfare system. E Examine your personal attitudes about some social welfare issues. F Explain social work’s fields of practice. G Explore the process of choosing a career. H Address how social work builds on other disciplines. I Discuss the uniqueness of social work. J Identify some basic concepts in systems theories and the ecological perspective that are important for understanding social work. K Describe social work education’s goals, curriculum, and competencies. What Is Social Work? social work practice is referred to as generalist prac- tice, described more thoroughly in Chapter 4. The National Association of Social Work (NASW) Five themes permeate social work practice in vir- defines social work as follows: tually any setting (e.g., child welfare agencies, nurs- Social work is the professional activity of help- ing homes, schools, or corrections facilities). First, ing individuals, groups, or communities enhance social work concerns helping individuals, groups, or restore their capacity for social functioning and or communities. Social workers provide counseling creating societal conditions favorable to this goal. when necessary to help clients address problems. In Social work practice consists of the professional addition to counseling an individual or family, much application of social work values, principles, and social work involves collaborating with organizations techniques to one or more of the following ends: and communities to improve social and health ser- vices. Second, social work entails a solid foundation ● Helping people obtain tangible services (e.g., of values and principles that guide what practitioners those involving provision of food, housing, or should and should not do. Third, a firm basis of tech- income). niques and skills provides directions for how social ● Providing counseling and psychotherapy with workers should provide treatment and accomplish individuals, families, and groups. goals. Fourth, social workers help people get the ser- ● Helping communities or groups provide or vices they need by linking them to available resources. improve social and health services. If the right resources are not available, social work- ● Participating in relevant legislative processes. ers may advocate for service development on their (NASW, 1973, pp. 4–5) clients’ behalf. Fifth, social workers participate in leg- What does this really mean? Imagine the vast islative processes to promote positive social change. range of human problems and issues. Because social Such participation might include urging lawmakers to workers can be in positions to help people deal with pass laws that improve social services and conditions. almost anything, it is difficult to define the field ade- Social workers can also serve as expert witnesses to quately in a few words. Highlighted here are some educate legislators about social issues and client needs, of the important concepts inherent in the definition write or phone legislators to share socially responsible just cited. Because of its breadth, the foundation of opinions, and run for elected office themselves. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 6 The Profession of Social Work NASW reports how Representative Bob Etheridge fields or settings discussed in this book, includ- (D–N.C.) paid homage to social workers during ing health, mental health, and financial assistance, Social Work Month (March 2001). He shared with among many others. Populations served include the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives the older adults, children and families, people with dis- following remarks: abilities, and people involved with the legal system. Note that social work is not the only field con- Social workers affect our lives in so many ways. . . . cerned with people’s social welfare. Others include Their work touches all of us as individuals and as those providing health, educational, recreational, whole communities. They are educated, highly and public safety services. Physicians, nurses, other trained, and committed professionals. They work in health care personnel, teachers, park recreational family service and community mental health agen- counselors, police, firefighters, and many others work cies, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and many to enhance people’s well-being and quality of life. other private and public agencies. They listen, they Social welfare can be quite controversial on two care. And most importantly, they help those in need. counts. One involves individuals’ responsibility to (Vallianatos, 2001, May, p. 1) take care of themselves independently of govern- ment, which reflects the old saying “You get what What Is Social Welfare? you deserve.” The other concerns society’s responsi- bility to take care of all its members, especially those What does the term social welfare mean? And exactly belonging to oppressed groups. There is constant whose welfare are we talking about? Answers to political debate about what social services should these questions require critical thinking because, as and should not provide, and about who should a citizen and voter, your opinions are vital. You have receive them and who should not. the opportunity to help determine and shape how The following section explores various perspec- you and others are treated, how your own and their tives that structure how you might think about social welfare is respected and nurtured. welfare. Each addresses the following questions: A central theme of this book is encouraging you What should be the most important focus and goals to think critically about problems, issues, and poli- of social welfare? Who should assume responsibility cies affecting people’s lives and welfare. Highlight 1.1 for people’s social welfare? defines critical thinking and provides a basic frame- work for analysis. Social welfare is “a nation’s system of programs, Residual, Institutional, and Developmental benefits, and services that help people meet those Perspectives on Social Welfare social, economic, educational, and health needs We can look at social welfare and the ways its programs that are fundamental to the maintenance of soci- are developed from three different perspectives— ety” (Barker, 2003, p. 408). Social welfare, then, is a residual, institutional, and developmental (Dobel- broad concept related to the general well-being of all stein, 2003; Gilbert & Terrell, 2005; Herrick, 2008; people in a society. Inherent in the definition are two Segal, 2007; Wilensky & Lebeaux, 1965). The residual basic dimensions: (1) what people get from society perspective conceives of social welfare as focusing on (in terms of programs, benefits, and services) and problems and gaps. Social welfare benefits and ser- (2) how well their needs (including social, economic, vices should be supplied only when people fail to pro- educational, and health) are being met. vide adequately for themselves and problems arise. Reid (1995) describes social welfare as “an idea, The implication is that it’s people’s own fault if they that idea being one of a decent society that provides require outside help. Society, then, must aid them until opportunities for work and human meaning, pro- they can once again assume responsibility for meet- vides reasonable security from want and assault, ing their own needs. Blaming women and children promotes fairness and evaluation based on individ- for being “on welfare,” for example, reflects a residual ual merit, and is economically productive and stable” view. The focus is on their supposed failures and faults; (p. 2206). they are viewed in a demeaning and critical manner. How are social welfare and social work related? The institutional perspective of social welfare, in Simply put, social work serves to improve people’s contrast, views people’s needs as a normal part of life. social and economic welfare. It does so in the many Society has a responsibility to support its members Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 7 HIGHLIGHT 1.1 What Is Critical Thinking? Critical thinking is (1) the careful scrutiny of what is a third of the student population is receiving aid, you stated as true or what appears to be true and the result- might heartily conclude that your friend’s statement is ing expression of an opinion or conclusion based on false. that scrutiny, and (2) the creative formulation of an Critical thinking can be applied to virtually any opinion or conclusion when presented with a question, belief, statement, assumption, line of reasoning, action, problem, or issue. Critical thinking concentrates on or experience claimed as true. Consider the following “the process of reasoning” (Gibbs & Gambrill, 1999, statements of proposed “facts”: p. 3). It stresses how individuals think about the truth ● Rich people are selfish. inherent in a statement or how they analyze an issue to ● Taxes are unfair. formulate their own conclusions. As Gibbs and Gam- ● A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out. brill (1999) so aptly state, “Critical thinkers question ● Most lipstick contains fish scales. what others take for granted” (p. 13). ● It is physically impossible for a person to lick his or Two dimensions in the definition of critical thinking are significant. First, critical thinking focuses on the ques- her elbow. ● Over 75% of people who read this will try to lick tioning of beliefs, statements, assumptions, lines of rea- soning, actions, and experiences. Suppose you read a their elbow. “fact” in a book or hear about it from a friend or an in- These statements may seem silly (although some structor. Critical thinking focuses on not taking this “fact” may also be true), but the point is that critical thinking at face value. Rather, it entails the following “Triple-A” can be applied to an infinite array of thoughts and approach to examining and evaluating its validity: ideas. For each of the statements, (1) what questions would you ask, (2) how would you assess the established 1. Ask questions. facts and issues involved, and (3) what concluding opin- 2. Assess the established facts and issues involved. ion would you finally assert? 3. Assert a concluding opinion. The second facet of the definition of critical thinking For example, a friend and fellow student might tell is the creative formulation of an opinion or conclusion you, “It’s impossible to get financial aid at our school.” when presented with a question, problem, or issue. To what extent is this statement really true? To find out, Instead of being told a proposed “fact” to be scrutinized you first ask questions about what the statement is for its validity, you are asked your opinion about an issue, really saying. What does “impossible” mean? Some assumption, or action. Examples include the following: people must be eligible for financial aid. What are the ● Should prisoners who commit violent crimes be criteria for receiving aid? What experiences has your ineligible for parole? (In other words, should they be friend had to come to such a conclusion? required to serve their full sentences?) Second, you assess the established facts and issues ● Should all interstate highways have toll booths to involved by seeking relevant information. What does finance them and their repairs, so that only the people the financial aid policy state? To what extent does eligi- who use them pay for them (instead of general tax rev- bility depend on students’ and their parents’ earnings? enues paying for highway construction and repair)? To what extent is grade point average or full-time stu- ● What is the best way to eliminate poverty in this dent status involved? How many students are actually nation? receiving aid at any time? What percentage of the stu- dent population does this number reflect? Consider answering the last question, which could Third, you assert a concluding opinion. To what be posed as a term paper or exam topic in one of your extent do you agree with your friend’s statement? If courses. First, what questions about it would you ask? you find out that only two people on your campus are What are the reasons for poverty in a rich industrialized receiving aid, you might agree that such aid is almost country? What social welfare programs are currently impossible to get. However, if you find out that about available to address poverty? What innovative ideas for (continued) Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 8 The Profession of Social Work HIGHLIGHT 1.1 (continued) programs might be tried? Where might funding for such would prompt you to assess upon what basis this programs be found? How much money would it take to law firm is making its claim of superiority. eliminate poverty, and who would pay for this? 2. Distinguish intentionally deceptive claims. For Second, what facts and issues would you seek to instance, an advertiser might boast, “This address and assess? You probably would first try to miracle drug has been scientifically proven to define poverty—what income level or lack of income make you lose a pound a day—without exercising makes a person or family “poor”? You then might or changing your eating habits!” when, in research statistics, costs, and studies concerning the actuality, little or no meticulous research has effectiveness of various programs intending to reduce been done. Critical thinking would lead you to poverty. You might also investigate innovative ideas. Per- question how the drug has been scientifically haps there are proposals for programs that look promis- proven to be effective. ing. You might explore what various programs cost and 3. Focus on and choose words carefully. Critical how they are funded. Note that these suggestions only thinking helps you focus your attention on the scratch the surface of how you might examine the issue. meaning of each word used to convey an idea or Third, what opinion or conclusion would you assert? concept. For example, consider the statement To what extent do you think it is possible to eliminate “Schools produce a bunch of real losers these poverty? What kinds of resources and programs do you days.” What does each word really mean or think it would take? What do you feel citizens and their imply? Which schools produce “losers”? What is government should do about poverty? a “loser”? What does “a bunch” mean? To what Gibbs and Gambrill (1999) stress that critical think- are “these days” compared? ing enhances self-awareness and the ability to detect 4. Be wary of emotional ploys and appeals. They various modes of distorted thinking that can trick peo- play on your emotions and urge you to concur ple into assuming truth. Critical thinking can help you with their intent by using as little logical thinking do the following: as possible. For instance, a sales representative on a televised marketing program might urge you 1. Identify propaganda (“ideas, facts, or allegations to “buy this genuine fake leather jacket now and spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to we’ll send a pair of matching gloves—and a pair damage an opposing cause” [Mish, 1995, p. 935]). of matching boots. This is the only time you’ll Propaganda may be true or untrue. It often get this additional value. Aren’t they lovely? But sensationalizes a point of view by blowing it out you have to act now—we have only two jackets of proportion. For example, a law firm with the left!” The intent here is to pressure you to make a slogan “Our Way Is the Only and Best Way” decision quickly based on desire rather than on emphasizes its own prowess while demeaning the logical thinking about what the jacket costs and effectiveness of other firms. Critical thinking how you will make the payments. and provide needed benefits and services. It’s not peo- is an example of a residually oriented program. Fami- ple’s fault that they require such services, but rather it is lies in need receive temporary, limited financial assis- an expected part of the human condition. People have tance until they can get back on their feet. a right to receive benefits and services on an ongoing The newest view on social welfare is the develop- basis. In many ways, this is a more humane and sup- mental perspective. This approach “seeks to identify portive approach to helping people. Public education social interventions that have a positive impact on available to all is an example of an institutional form economic development” (Midgley & Livermore, 1997, of social welfare; similarly, fire and police protection p. 574). It originated after World War II in Third are available to all (McInnis-Dittrich, 1994). World countries seeking to design social welfare Prior to the Great Depression in the 1930s, the resid- programs that would also enhance their economic ual approach to social welfare dominated. Since then, development. This perspective gained impetus in the however, both approaches have been apparent, depend- United States in the 1970s because “it justifies social ing on the program at issue. Temporary Assistance to programs in terms of economic efficiency criteria” Needy Families (TANF), described in a later chapter, (Lowe, 1995; Midgley & Livermore, 1997, p. 575). Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 9 Midgley and Livermore (1997) cite three major The developmental perspective is relatively new ways that economic development can occur in a and requires a more extensive grasp of social welfare developmental context. First, “investments in [ser- issues and policies than can be described in an intro- vices to people such as] education, nutrition, and ductory book such as this. It involves both in-depth health care” can be evaluated so that people get the analysis of current social programs and the ability to most for their money (p. 577). For example, invest- creatively propose new ones. Therefore, it will not be ments in education may result in a more skilled labor a primary focus in this book. force that, in turn, generates a stronger economy. What are your views about social welfare? Focus Second, investment in physical facilities involving on Critical Thinking 1.1 poses some questions. “the creation of economic and social infrastruc- ture, such as roads, bridges, irrigation and drinking The Conservative–Liberal Continuum water systems, clinics, [and] schools . . . provide[s] the Political ideology is the “relatively coherent system of economic and social bases on which development ideas (beliefs, traditions, principles, and myths) about efforts depend” (pp. 577–578). Workers must have a human nature, institutional arrangements, and social transportation system to get to work and a building processes” that indicate how a government should be in which to work to get anything done. Therefore, run and what principles that government should sup- resources expended on developing such things are port (Abramovitz, 2007, p. 126). A person’s politi- economically productive. Third, developing “pro- cal ideology will frame the way that person views the grams that help needy people engage in productive world. It affects what that person feels in valuable and employment and self-employment” is more economi- what is not; it influences how an individual believes cally viable than giving people public assistance pay- things should be and how they should not be. ments over years and even decades (p. 578). It is an Another way of thinking about how people efficient economic investment to educate and train should be served by social welfare programs involves people in need so that they can get jobs and eventu- political ideology and the conservative–liberal ally support themselves. continuum (Dolgoff & Feldstein, 2007; Jansson, FOCUS ON CRITICAL THINKING 1.1 What Are Your Views About Social Welfare? We have established that a consistent theme in social ● Should public housing be routinely provided to work is the importance of thinking critically and for- homeless people at public expense? mulating opinions about what is right and wrong. A ● Should national health insurance automatically be key question here concerns your own views about social provided to all Americans, or should they be expected welfare. What ensuing questions might you ask? What to obtain health insurance through employment or facts would you need to seek out and assess? What by purchasing it themselves? opinions and conclusions would you finally assert? ● Should homeless people who have mental illnesses A related question concerns the extent to which your be institutionalized, or should they be allowed to opinions reflect residual or institutional views about roam at will in the community? social welfare programs, benefits, and services. What ● Should children in families suspected of child abuse are your opinions about the following concerns posed? be placed elsewhere, or should treatment focus on (The issues are more complicated than you might strengthening the family so that children remain in think.) Does your thinking lean more toward a residual their own homes? or institutional perspective? ● Should single mothers of young children be required to work, or should they be entitled to public assis- tance while they care for their children at home? Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 10 The Profession of Social Work 2008; McInnis-Dittrich, 1994). In some ways, this continuum reflects concepts similar to those of the residual and institutional perspectives of social wel- fare program development. However, the continuum focuses more on values related to social responsibil- ity for human welfare. Conservatism Conservatism is the philosophy that individuals are responsible for themselves, government should provide minimal interference in people’s lives, and change is generally unnecessary. At least three concepts tend to characterize conser- vatives. First, conservatives usually oppose change and thrive on tradition (Chapin, 2007; Gilbert & Terrell, 2005). They generally feel that change results in more trouble than it’s worth, so it’s best to leave things the way they are. In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Second, conservatives generally assume a negative Masterfile view of human nature, stressing that it is sinful and prone to corruption (Abramovitz, 2008). If people can get “welfare,” they’ll take it, and society is fool- Poverty is a social welfare issue. Depending on their political ish for giving it to them. Conservatives also feel that orientation, people view the causes of poverty and the potential solutions very differently. society has the responsibility of regulating people’s behavior so that it’s in compliance with the laws of God and a patriarchal society (Abramovitz, 2008). things done (Chapin, 2007; Gilbert & Terrell, 2005). Areas requiring strict regulation include maintain- They are always looking for different approaches to ing bans on gay marriage and abortion, in addition improve policies and provide services. to the provision of strict consequences for deviant Second, liberals have a much more positive per- behavior such as illegal drug use and other crimes. spective on human nature (Abramovitz, 2008). They Third, conservatives usually conceive of people as view people as rational beings fully capable of mak- perfectly capable of taking care of themselves (Abra- ing their own choices and decisions about what is movitz, 2008). This implies that if people would work right and wrong. Each individual deserves the right hard and take responsibility for their actions, they to compete and be provided with equal opportuni- wouldn’t need any help. People “on welfare” don’t ties to blossom and prosper. deserve such resources, but rather should make their Third, liberals view government as the best entity own way. People have only themselves to blame if to provide a structure and an environment where they don’t succeed. Government should provide min- adequate services and opportunities can be made imal interference in people’s lives and assistance only available (Abramovitz, 2008). Therefore, it is gov- when it’s absolutely necessary to help the very needy. ernment’s responsibility to make certain that citizens’ needs are met, public participation is maximized, and Liberalism people’s equal rights are preserved. Liberals believe Liberalism is the philosophy that government should that it’s the government’s job to protect people from be involved in the social, political, and economic such impediments as racism, sexism, various other structure so that all people’s rights and privileges are forms of discrimination, and poverty. protected in the name of social justice. At least three concepts tend to characterize lib- Radicalism erals, more or less reflecting the opposite of a con- A more extreme approach is radicalism, the philoso- servative perspective. First, liberals like change phy that the social and political system as it stands and tend to think there’s always a better way to get is not structurally capable of truly providing social Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 11 justice. Rather, drastic, fundamental changes are govern them and services and resources provided necessary in the basic social and political structure them is an integral part of the social work perspective. to achieve truly fair and equal treatment. Chapter 6 reviews the history of social welfare According to a radical philosophy, for exam- beginning in European medieval times, continu- ple, poverty, defined as “the result of exploitation ing throughout U.S. history, and culminating with by the ruling or dominant class,” exists for at least today’s programs and services. It elaborates on the two reasons (Karger & Stoesz, 2002, pp. 115–116). effects of history on the social work profession’s First, having a multitude of poor people as work- development. The chapter is placed immediately ers enables higher classes to keep wages low because before Chapter 7 (which addresses policy, policy of the numerous replacement workers. If low-paid analysis, and policy advocacy) because today’s pro- workers complain, they can simply be fired, with grams, all based on current social welfare policies, someone else eagerly waiting to take their place to are products of historical events concerning social avoid poverty. The working class thus serves to labor welfare. Chapter 8 then discusses the policies and for the wealthy and keep them rich. Second, keeping programs developed to combat poverty. a class of people in poverty enhances the “prestige” and status of the middle and upper classes. To rem- edy this state of affairs, an entirely new social struc- Fields of Practice in Social Work ture would have to be developed. The remainder of the book focuses on fields of A radical perspective requires the ability to pro- practice in social work. These are the various prac- pose a new social structure. It is far beyond the scope tice contexts that address certain types of popula- of this book to discuss how to plan new policies tions and needs and require a special knowledge and promote broad social change. Therefore, from and skill base for effective work. Each field of prac- here on, when the term radical is used, it will be in tice involves a labyrinth of typical human problems the context of soliciting any very general ideas you and the services attempting to address them. Cur- might have about changing social welfare service rent fields of practice include children and families, provision. aging, disabilities, health, mental health, substance abuse, schools, and corrections. Other contexts for How Do You Fare on the Conservative–Liberal practice are occupational social work (focusing on Continuum? work in employee assistance programs or directed Return to the preceding box and review the answers toward organizational change), rural social work you gave to those questions. Do they lean toward a (addressing the unique problems of people living in liberal or conservative point of view? Focus on Criti- rural areas), police social work (emphasizing work cal Thinking 1.2 contains a series of statements geared within police, courthouse, and jail settings to provide to assessing further your liberal or conservative views. services to crime victims), and forensic social work Note that this discussion of conservatism and lib- (dealing with the law, educating lawyers, and serving eralism is overly simplified. Many people, and perhaps as expert witnesses) (Barker, 2003). most, have a complex mixture of views depending on Social workers require information about people their perceptions and personal experiences. (That last who need help in each of these areas. They also must sentence probably reflects a liberal perspective.) be knowledgeable about the services available to meet needs and the major issues related to each area. A social worker may be called upon to work with a Social Work and Social problem that clearly falls within one field of practice or a problem that involves several of these fields. Welfare History For example, the Wullbinkle family comes to a Social work has been a developing field since the late social worker’s attention when a neighbor reports 19th century. The profession is intimately intertwined that Rocky, their 5-year-old son, is frequently seen with historical events and trends in social welfare. with odd-looking bruises on his arms and legs. The Social work emphasizes the importance of the social neighbor suspects child abuse. Upon investigation, environment as it affects the quality of people’s lives. the social worker finds that the parents are indeed Therefore, the way people are treated by laws that abusive. They often grab the child violently by a Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 12 The Profession of Social Work FOCUS ON CRITICAL THINKING 1.2 Where Do You Stand on the Conservative–Liberal Continuum? Rate how much you agree with statements 1–6 by assign- 11. With a little help and support, people who are ing a number for each. The scale is as follows: less privileged than the rest can usually pull themselves together and do pretty well. Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 12. It’s better to try to rehabilitate people who com- agree agree disagree disagree mit crimes than to throw them in jail. 1 2 3 4 Now add up your total score for all 12 items and divide 1. I don’t like change very much. by 12. A score of 1 means that you probably are quite 2. The old tried-and-true way of getting things conservative, a 2 that you’re somewhat conservative, a 3 done is usually the best way. that you’re somewhat liberal, and a 4 that you’re quite 3. People will do whatever they can to get things liberal. for themselves. This little exercise in no way defines your political 4. If they’re sure they can get away with it, stu- orientation or labels you as a conservative or liberal for dents will inevitably cheat on exams. life. Its intent is to give you some food for thought 5. People should be independent, take care of about your own values. themselves, and not rely on the charity of Social work values tend to be more liberal than con- others. servative, as is demonstrated by the NASW Code of 6. People who commit crimes should be punished Ethics and NASW’s usual support of Democratic polit- with severity to match the severity of their crimes. ical candidates, who traditionally are more liberal than Republicans. Now rate how much you agree with statements 7–12 by However, people’s values and belief systems often assigning a number for each. The scale is as follows: are much more complex than that. For example, you Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly may be conservative in that you don’t want to pay a agree agree disagree disagree high percentage of taxes for social welfare programs. But you may also be liberal in that you believe in a 4 3 2 1 woman’s right to choice when it comes to having an 7. I like to see and do new things because it makes abortion. Or you might feel just the opposite. life more interesting. Social workers must continuously examine their per- 8. Trying some new way to get things done often sonal values, on the one hand, and respect the values of results in a better, more effective approach. their clients, on the other. They must constantly strive 9. People are generally good at heart. not to impose personal values on clients. It’s a difficult 10. It’s often the bad things that happen to people but interesting task. that make them “go wrong.” limb and throw him against the wall. This problem helps employees deal with such problems. Thus occu- initially falls under the umbrella of family and chil- pational social work may also be involved. dren’s services. In addition, the maternal grandmother, Emma, However, the social worker also finds a num- is living with the Wullbinkle family. Emma’s physi- ber of other problems operating within the family. cal health is failing. Although her daughter dreads The mother, Natasia, is seriously depressed and fre- the idea of nursing home placement, the issue must quently suicidal, so she needs mental health services. be addressed. Emma, who is also overweight, finds And the father, Boris, is struggling with a drink- it increasingly difficult to move around by herself. ing problem that is beginning to affect his perfor- She is demanding more and more physical help and mance at work. A program is available at his place of support from Natasia. Natasia, who has back prob- employment, where an occupational social worker lems, is finding it increasingly burdensome to help Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 13 her mother. Finally, Vernite, Boris and Natasia’s experience or strong connections to the community, 12-year-old daughter, is falling behind in school, and who perform clerical and scheduling tasks. Aides truancy is becoming a problem. This last issue falls may or may not have an associate’s degree. under the school’s umbrella. Most of the problems that social workers face Master’s Social Workers (MSWs) are complex. They may involve a variety of practice Master’s social workers (MSWs) receive more spe- fields all at one time. To understand clients’ needs, cialized training built on the same foundation as the social workers must know something about a wide BSW curriculum and integrated with field intern- range of problems and services. ships. Most master’s programs require two years of study. However, many give advanced standing to The Continuum of Social BSWs (as opposed to people entering the program with non–social work undergraduate majors) where Work Careers up to one year of study is waived because they’ve There are various ways to look at advancement already completed the foundation curriculum. through a social work career. Some workers progress Both BSWs and MSWs can find employment in a through a series of levels, while others remain at an wide range of settings. However, there are some dif- earlier point of entry. Degrees in social work include ferences in the types of jobs for which each is quali- the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctorate. fied. MSWs are considered more specialized than BSWs. The implication is that MSWs are competent Baccalaureate Social Workers (BSWs) to address more difficult problems than BSWs and have the potential to assume greater responsibility. In Baccalaureate social workers (BSWs) complete an reality, this distinction is not always so clear-cut. Per- accredited course of study, with required content formance expectations and job availability vary signifi- described later in the chapter, to prepare for entry- cantly depending on the area of the country and state. level social work. They are also required to complete The realm of psychotherapy is generally limited to at least 400 hours of field experience supervised by a MSWs instead of BSWs. Psychotherapy, sometimes social work practitioner. Job settings involve many referred to simply as therapy, is a skilled treatment fields of practice and include child welfare agen- process whereby a therapist works with an individual, cies (e.g., those involving protective services, foster couple, family, or group to address a mental disorder care, or adoption), residential treatment centers (e.g., or alleviate other problems the client(s) may be having serving adolescents with behavioral or emotional in the social environment. Another difference between problems), services for people with various dis- MSWs and BSWs is that higher-level supervisory and abilities (including cognitive), settings serving older administrative positions in any field of practice often adults, correctional institutions, public welfare agen- require an MSW or other master’s-level degree. Such cies, schools, health centers and hospitals, substance positions usually offer higher salaries. MSWs gener- abuse treatment centers, shelters for the homeless, ally earn significantly more than BSWs, although shelters for domestic violence survivors, and family years of experience enhance salaries for both groups. planning organizations. Licensure or certification of some level of social At the preprofessional or paraprofessional level work practice exists in all 50 states. Chapter 5 dis- involving people who assist social workers in their cusses this more thoroughly. practice are social service technicians and social ser- vice aides (Hopps & Lowe, 2008). Social service tech- nicians typically hold an associate’s degree (e.g., in Doctorates in Social Work human services) or a baccalaureate degree in a non– A small percentage of social workers hold doctor- social work discipline and serve as a paraprofessional ate degrees, either a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) or (a person trained to assist the social worker under the DSW (Doctor of Social Work). Either degree quali- social worker’s supervision in designated tasks such fies the holder to teach at the college level or conduct as conducting basic interviews, making referrals, and research. (Note that some social workers without completing paperwork). Social service aides are peo- a doctorate but with an MSW get jobs teaching ple with a high school degree, often with relevant life at community colleges, in universities as part-time Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 14 The Profession of Social Work instructors, or, sometimes, in non-tenure-track faculty This section has reviewed the continuum of social positions.) Some Ph.D.s or DSWs assume administra- work careers according to the college and university tive positions or enter private practice in psychotherapy. degrees attained. Focus on Critical Thinking 1.3 sug- These degrees involve advanced and specialized study, gests how you might start thinking about the career a focus on research, and completion of a dissertation. that’s right for you in whatever field you choose. FOCUS ON CRITICAL THINKING 1.3 Thinking About Your Career As a student, you may have some career goals clearly in process. You may know more about what jobs you don’t mind. Or you may still be wondering what the best want (e.g., fast-food restaurant worker, waitress/waiter, career path is. The following is a discussion of how you pizza delivery person, factory worker, or cashier) might think about determining a career course. You because of prior experience in minimum-wage or close might be a student of traditional age or an older stu- to minimum-wage jobs that you know you don’t want dent returning to school. Note that not all career ideas to do for the rest of your working life. and possibilities are mentioned because they are count- Why are you taking the course that requires this less. Although this career consideration process is ori- book? Is it to fulfill some general education requirement? ented toward social work, the purpose here is to Is it because you’re mildly interested in the topic? Or is it stimulate your thinking, not to tell you what to do. because you think this might be the major for you? Each person must decide for herself or himself how to spend time and life. 2. People-oriented versus non-people-oriented careers (exploring your options) 1. General orientation toward the future What types of things tend to interest you? (conducting a self-assessment) Do you enjoy being with others? Or do you prefer What values are important to you? Achieving personal being by yourself ? satisfaction? Becoming famous? Earning money? Being Are you interested in human relationships, issues respected? Building a family life? Finding security? such as mental health, health, and women’s concerns, Having adventures? Leading others? Finding excite- and problems such as substance abuse, child maltreat- ment? Developing personal relationships? Having fun? ment, and crime? Being loved? Helping others? Getting ahead? Being Do people tend to come to you to talk about their successful? Being happy? Being popular? Fitting into a problems? Do you enjoy “helping” people? work environment? Feeling important? Having free If you say yes to these questions, then you might time? Traveling? Having a good reputation? consider occupations that deal with people and con- What work have you done or thought about doing tinue the career consideration process addressed here. in life? Non-people-oriented career courses might include What dimensions of work appeal to you most? Lik- those such as engineering, accounting, biology, chemis- ing the people you work with? Communicating with try, or computer science. Of course, it’s not that you others? Working alone? Working with others? Giving don’t have to work with people in those jobs. Relating attention to detail? Solving problems creatively? Using to and communicating with others in the work environ- specific skills? Being successful? Having flexibility? ment is always important. However, in non-people- Having structured work expectations? Maintaining pre- oriented careers, the focus and goal are accomplishing dictability? Helping others? Having opportunities to specific tasks using specific skills, not interpersonal get ahead? Being productive? Making lots of money? interaction and problem solving. Being a leader? Fitting in? Being challenged? What jobs or careers come to mind? Which, if any, 3. Ways of working with people have you given any thought to? In what capacities do you think you’d like to work with Your answers may be vague or specific at this point, people? Are you more interested in physical, business, depending on where you are in your decision-making legal, educational, spiritual, or psychosocial aspects? (continued) Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 15 FOCUS ON CRITICAL THINKING 1.3 (continued) Examples of hands-on work with people include justice, or counseling? How can you determine which being a medical doctor, nursing, occupational therapy field is for you? (treatment that uses creative activity to improve psy- If you decide you want to work with people con- chological or physical rehabilitation), and physical cerning psychosocial issues, it’s best to talk with advis- therapy (“the treatment or management of physical dis- ers in the various majors available to you at your school. ability, malfunction, or pain by physical techniques Think about what aspects of a major appeal to you such as exercise, massage, hydrotherapy, etc.” [Nichols, most. Find out what kind of jobs its graduates tend to 1999, p. 996]). These fields also have varying require- get. Explore what courses make up the curriculum, and ments in science, so you probably should have some determine the extent to which the major will give you interest in this area. the values, knowledge, and skills necessary for you to Many business careers also focus on developing “hit the ground running” when you get your first job relationships, but, of course, with the ultimate goal of after graduating. Does it prepare you with skills such as making a monetary profit instead of helping people interviewing, running groups and meetings, and work- improve their life conditions. To what extent is your ing within organizations? Does the major provide a sig- ultimate goal to earn large amounts of money instead nificant field internship to help prepare you for work of having impacts on the human condition? This is a with clients? To what extent does each major you’re significant issue. One family comes to mind in which considering match your values, interests, and goals? almost all members have various types of business Understanding the primary focus of various majors degrees. They can’t understand why I might be inter- can be confusing. Just a few alternatives will be men- ested in how to address human problems such as child tioned here. Generally speaking, psychology emphasizes maltreatment, sexual assault, or mental illness. They the study of behavior and cognitive processing (Barker, cringe when I talk about watching movies about such 2003). Work is often associated with treatment of men- issues. They think of these issues as someone else’s tal disorders or testing people for intelligence or apti- problem and focus their energies on their own families, tude. A master’s or Ph.D. degree is required to provide finances, and lives. Social work would not be their pre- psychotherapy. Sociology is the study of human society, ferred field. Each of us must follow our own calling. how various groups interact with each other, and how Law or teaching provides other career options. Law, social institutions structure the social environment in of course, requires a serious interest in the legal process which we live. Social work uses a significant amount of and more years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree. the knowledge produced both by sociology and psy- In my school we see many students deciding between chology, and applies it to helping situations. Figure 1.1 social work and teaching. They must determine whether illustrates the broad range of foundation knowledge they’re more interested in helping children learn infor- contributing to social work practice. Psychiatry is the mation and skills, or in working with clients and their branch of medicine that specializes in the diagnosis and families to help them deal with psychological, behav- treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists must have ioral, and economic issues. Students more interested in advanced training beyond a medical degree and assume pursuing a spiritual career such as rabbi, priest, or min- responsibility for diagnosing mental illness and pre- ister might seek education preparing them for such reli- scribing psychotropic drugs. Criminal justice is the con- gious callings. One person comes to mind who, after figuration of programs, policies, and agencies dealing receiving his master’s degree in meteorology, decided with crime, incarceration, legal processes, and the reha- that he really wanted to be a minister and attained a bilitation of criminal offenders. Social workers can degree in divinity four years later. assume a wide range of positions in the criminal justice If you’re primarily interested in psychosocial aspects system. Counseling is a field overlapping various other of human functioning and improving the human con- fields, including social work, which focuses on problem dition, continue reading the next section. solving and providing help to individuals, families, or groups. Often it involves additional education and 4. Selection of a major expertise such as that in marriage and family therapy. To what extent do you understand the differences Many social workers in clinical practice also are licensed among fields addressing psychosocial issues such as marriage and family therapists. Generally, counseling social work, psychology, sociology, psychiatry, criminal focuses on providing some kind of psychotherapy, (continued) Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 16 The Profession of Social Work FOCUS ON CRITICAL THINKING 1.3 (continued) whereas social work also emphasizes the importance of without adequate information? Many students, even as the social environment concerning human behavior and they complete their major, have difficulty deciding what advocacy to improve people’s quality of life. they prefer even as they enter a supervised field practi- An issue related to choice of major involves the cum within an agency setting. Usually, however, by that extent to which you’re interested in attending graduate time students have narrowed their preferences consider- school. Some career paths require graduate education. ably. It takes time to think things through as you Graduate school raises more questions. To what extent acquire more information about the field and gain do you think you’ll be tired of school by the time you broader experiences. graduate? So many seniors tell me they can’t wait “to The following list should at least give you an idea of get out” and “work to make money” instead of doing the social work career options available. At this point, schoolwork and spending money on tuition. To what what interests you the most? What settings are most extent is graduate school financially feasible? Do you attractive to you? What client populations, problems, have access to funding or loans? To what extent are you and issues concern you most? What are your reactions already financially burdened? What, if any, is your to considering work in the following settings, which are motivation to attend graduate school? Is your grade just a sampling of those available? point average sufficient to be accepted? If you decide to consider social work as a major or ● Mental health settings such as inpatient hospitals, have already declared this major, the next section where people experience and seek treatment for vari- addresses some choices within the realm of social work. ous mental health problems. ● Health settings such as hospitals, where people need 5. Considering or choosing a social work major help understanding complex information and get- Because social workers practice in so many different ting the appropriate resources. settings and work with so many kinds of people, it can ● Settings aimed at enhancing the welfare of children, be daunting trying to decide what field of practice is including protective services, adoption, foster care, right for you. Such a struggle makes sense when you school social work, and treatment for behavioral still know little about all the types of social work set- and emotional difficulties in outpatient, group tings available. How can you make an informed choice home, or residential facilities. (continued) Social Work Builds on The Uniqueness of Social Work We have established that social work builds on the Many Disciplines knowledge base of other professions in addition to The foundation of professional social work is a body of its own. Other fields perform some of the same func- knowledge, skills, and values. Knowledge originates not tions as social work. For instance, mental health cli- only from social workers but also from a range of dis- nicians in psychology, psychiatry, and counseling ciplines that focus on understanding people’s needs and use interviewing skills, and some also use a planned- behavior. These include psychology, sociology, political change approach. Figure 1.2, on page 19, illustrates science, economics, biology, psychiatry, counseling, and how social work overlaps, to some extent, with other cultural anthropology (Zastrow, 2004). Figure 1.1, on helping professions. All, for example, have a com- page 18, illustrates how social work knowledge builds mon core of interviewing and counseling skills. on both other disciplines and its own firm and growing However, social work involves much more than body of research. It summarizes the primary focus and simply sitting down with an individual, group, or fam- core concepts involved in each discipline. Social workers ily and solving some problem. (This is not to imply use knowledge drawn from each field, in conjunction that this is all other helping professions do. Their own with social work skills and values, to help individuals, unique thrusts and emphases are beyond the scope of families, groups, organizations, and communities solve what can be included here.) Social work has at least problems and improve their quality of life. five major dimensions that make it unique. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 17 FOCUS ON CRITICAL THINKING 1.3 (continued) ● Settings for older adults, such as health care facilities are addressed and referrals to appropriate services where older adults who require physical and medical made. support live, or supportive services aimed at keeping ● Family planning agencies that help people make people in their own homes as long as possible. choices about contraception. ● Agencies providing services to people with physical ● Homeless shelters that provide temporary shelter, disabilities, including linking them to appropriate counseling, and training for people on the street. services and advocating for services when necessary. Another facet of thinking about your career involves ● Correctional settings for adults or juvenile delin- the types of responsibilities characterizing a work setting quents, such as prisons where social workers help and the skills needed to practice effectively in it. What inmates by providing counseling and assisting in are your thoughts about undertaking the following? inmates’ adjustment to the correctional environment or preparing for release, and probation or parole ● Counseling. offices where they monitor the behavior of people ● Running groups. released into the community. ● Working with families. ● Domestic violence hotlines and programs address- ● Linking people with needed resources. ing the needs of women who have been physically ● Coordinating service provision for people receiving and emotionally abused. multiple services through case management. ● Counseling programs for alcohol and other sub- ● Supervising staff or administering agencies. stance abuse. ● Supervising volunteers. ● Services for people with cognitive disabilities, such ● Undertaking community organization. as those aimed at linking them to needed services, ● Running meetings. supervising noninstitutional living settings such as ● Writing grants. group homes, helping them gain employment, and ● Developing policy. advocating for resources that are unavailable. ● Promoting. ● Crisis hotlines, where a wide range of crises including ● Lobbying. threats of suicide or violence toward others, mental There are lots of things to consider. Choosing a career health and substance abuse issues, or physical abuse is not easy. First, social workers may focus on any problems for change. Sometimes services are unavailable or or clusters of problems that are complex and diffi- difficult to obtain, policies are unfair, or people cult. Social workers don’t refuse to work with clients are oppressed by other people. Administrators and or refer them elsewhere because those clients have people in power don’t always have the motivation unappealing characteristics. For instance, there may or insight to initiate needed change. Social workers be a family in which sexual abuse is occurring, and must look at where change is essential outside the that abuse must be stopped. Likewise, there may be individual and work with the environment to effect a community in which the juvenile crime rate is sky- that change. Highlight 1.2 on page 20 discusses some rocketing, and something must be done. of the theoretical concepts underlying social work Not every problem can be solved, but some can practice. be—or at least alleviated. Social work practitioners Consider an example of targeting the environment are equipped with a repertoire of skills to help for change involving a Midwestern city of about half a them identify and examine problems. They then million people. Several dozen teenagers in the city had make choices about where their efforts can be best been expelled from various schools. They all had directed. lengthy delinquency records and serious emotional The second dimension that makes social work problems. These young people had been attending a unique is that it often targets the environment private day treatment program that provided them with encompassing clients, and not the clients themselves, special education and counseling at the individual, Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 18 The Profession of Social Work Foundation of knowledge Input Intervention applications Psychology: The scientific study of mind and behavior Micro practice (individuals) Sociology: The organized study of how groups develop, interact, behave, and function within the larger society Political science: The study of political and governmental structures and functioning Micro/mezzo practice Economics: The study of the production, (families) distribution, and consumption of goods and services Social Biology: The study of living organisms work and their physical functions profession Psychiatry: The branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of mental, emotional, and Mezzo practice behavioral disorders (groups) Counseling: The use of interviewing and problem-solving skills with clients to provide insights concerning psychological issues and change future behavior Cultural anthropology: The branch of anthropology that deals with human culture, especially its history, social structures, language, and technology Macro practice (organizations and communities) Social work: The practical application of knowledge, skills, and values to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities F I G U R E 1 . 1 The social work knowledge base. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 19 Social work Psychiatry Psychology Counseling The shaded area in the center reflects a common core of interviewing and counseling skills used by the helping professions. F I G U R E 1 . 2 Social work and other helping professions. group, and family levels. The day treatment approach The media may need to be contacted as well. Second, allowed them to remain living at home in the commu- the public school system may need to develop its own nity but still receive special treatment. The program program to meet these children’s and their families’ had been paid for by public funds, with the county needs. Third, the parents of these children may need department of social services purchasing treatment to band together and lobby for attention and services. services from the private agency.1 The public schools In this case, social workers involved in the had no special resources to help these teens. Therefore, agency whose funding had been cut off mobilized purchasing such services from a private agency was immediately. They contacted the parents of their cli- more cost-effective for the county than developing its ents and told them about the situation. Outraged, own program from scratch. Suddenly, however, money the parents demanded that the community provide became scarce, and community leaders decided they education for their children as it did for all the other could no longer afford a day treatment program. Now children. Several parents became outspoken leaders these teenagers had nowhere to go. of the group. Assisted by social workers, they filed a This problem involved many children and their class action suit. The court determined that until the families, and the social environment was no longer situation had been evaluated, funding for services responding to their desperate needs. A social worker must continue. Eventually, the public school system addressing this problem might look at it from sev- (also with the help of social workers) developed its eral perspectives. First, the city’s various communities own programs to meet the needs of such teenagers, might need to be made acutely aware both of the exis- and the private program was phased out. tence of these teens and of the sudden cuts in funding. The third dimension that makes social work unique is related to targeting the environment: namely, social workers often find it necessary to advocate for their 1Public agencies are those run by a designated unit of government clients. Advocacy involves actively intervening to help and are usually regulated by laws that directly affect policy. The clients get what they need. Most frequently, this inter- county department of social services is a public agency. Private agencies, of course, are privately owned and run by people not vention focuses on “the relationship between the client employed by government. Chapter 5 describes social service agen- and an unresponsive ‘system’ ” (Epstein, 1981, p. 8). cies in greater detail. Clients have specified needs, and social agencies, Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 20 The Profession of Social Work HIGHLIGHT 1.2 Theoretical Ways of Viewing Social Work: A Focus on Systems in the Environment Theoretical approaches provide ways of organizing system that social workers need “to change or influence in information and looking at the world. For example, the order to accomplish (their) goals” (Pincus & Minahan, medical model is a theoretical approach characterized by 1973, p. 58). Targets of change may be individual clients, four major features (Barker, 2003). First, the focus of families, formal groups, administrators, or policymakers. attention is the individual, who is seen as having some- At the micro level, a 5-year-old child with behavioral thing wrong such as an illness. Therefore, treatment problems might be the target of change, the goal being to focuses on curing or helping the individual. Second, little improve behavior. At the mezzo level, a support group of attention is paid to factors outside the individual in his people with eating disorders might be the target of change or her environment. The individual, not the environ- in an attempt to control their eating behavior.2 Finally, at ment, is the target of change. Third, the problem or ill- the macro level, an agency director might be the target of ness is identified or diagnosed and categorized by placing change when the social worker’s aim is to improve some a label on it. Fourth, the individual is the target of treat- agency policy and the director is the primary decision ment that usually involves a series of clinical treatments. maker capable of implementing that change. In contrast, a common theoretical approach to Another system critical to the plannedchange process social work focuses on the interactions between indi- is the client system—any individual, family, group, orga- viduals and various systems in the environment. The nization, or community that will ultimately benefit from focus on the individual and the environment is impor- social work intervention (Pincus & Minahan, 1973; tant because the latter is where social workers direct Resnick, 1980a; Resnick, 1980b). For example, individ- their efforts at change. ual clients are client systems when the social worker’s This system- and environment-oriented approach, goal is to get them needed resources. Families are client called ecosystems theory, is particularly relevant to systems when the practitioner is working on behalf of social work (Beckett & Johnson, 1995; McNutt, 2008). the entire family. Similarly, a community is the client sys- It combines some of the major concepts from two dif- tem when a social worker is trying to help residents open ferent theoretical perspectives: the ecological approach a new community center to improve their quality of life. and systems theories. Important Ecological Concepts Important Concepts in Systems Theories Two important concepts taken from the ecological Systems theories focus on the dynamics among and approach are the social environment and coping. The interactions of people in their environment. A system is social environment includes the conditions, circumstances, a set of elements that are orderly and interrelated to and interactions that encompass human beings. Individu- make a function whole. Social work refers primarily to als must have effective interactions with their environment social systems composed of people (as opposed to, say, to survive and thrive. The social environment involves the an industrial manufacturing system or an ant colony type of home a person lives in, the type of work a person system). An individual, a family, a social services agency, does, the amount of money that is available, and the laws and a neighborhood are all examples of systems. and social rules people live by. The social environment Social workers work with and on the behalf of vari- also includes the individuals, groups, organizations, and ous sized systems. A micro system is an individual, and a systems with which a person comes into contact, such as mezzo system a group. Families, because of their inti- family, friends, work groups, and governments. mate nature, arbitrarily lie somewhere between micro Coping is the struggle to adjust to environmental and mezzo systems. A macro system includes organiza- conditions and overcome problems. This is significant tions and communities. This terminology is important because social workers often help people cope with because it’s used throughout social work and this book. problems in their environments. 2Eating disorders, extremely serious disturbances in eating Target Systems and Client Systems patterns, are considered mental disorders by the American It’s helpful to conceptualize social workers and clients in Psychiatric Association (APA) (APA, 2000). Examples include terms of systems. A target system or target of change is the anorexia and bulimia. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 21 organizations, or communities may not be meeting that accredits social work programs throughout the these needs. These unresponsive systems must be pres- United States. Accreditation is the official designation sured to make changes so needs can be met. by an authorized body (in this case, CSWE) that an The fourth dimension that makes social work educational program meets specified standards. This unique is its emphasis on and adherence to a core is usually required in becoming licensed as a social of professional values. The NASW Code of Ethics worker (described more thoroughly in Chapter 5). focuses on the right of the individual to make free To begin with, CSWE’s Educational Policy and choices and have a quality life (NASW, 1999). Social Accreditation Standards (EPAS) emphasize that workers do not force people into specific ways of social work programs must reflect certain values thinking or acting. Rather, they help people make throughout their curricula. EPAS states that “ser- their own decisions about how to think or act. vice, social justice, the dignity and worth of the The fifth dimension making social work unique person, the importance of human relationships, is related to the core of social work values and how integrity, competence, human rights, and scientific important it is for clients to make their own deci- inquiry are among the core values of social work” sions. Social workers do not track people into spe- (CSWE, 2008b, p. 2). EPAS also specifies the 10 cific ways of thinking or acting. Rather, they practice areas in which graduates of social work programs in a partnership with clients, making and implement- must display competency. These are discussed in the ing plans together. Most other professions empha- following section. Subsequently, the core social work size the authority and expertise of the professional, concepts of generalist practice, advanced practice, on the one hand, and the subordinate status of the and field education will be introduced. client as recipient of services, on the other. Social Workers Demonstrate Competencies Competencies are “measurable practice behaviors Social Work Education’s Goals, that are comprised of sufficient knowledge, skills, and values” and have the goal of practicing effective Curricula, and Competencies social work. Highlight 1.3 summarizes the 10 required One way of understanding social work is to review competencies for accredited social work programs. the content and expectations evident in the curricula The following sections describe each competency of accredited social work programs. The Council on and identify content areas in the traditional social Social Work Education (CSWE) is the organization work curriculum. The first five competencies involve HIGHLIGHT 1.3 Social Workers Demonstrate Competencies CSWE (2008b) requires that social work graduates dem- 2.1.5 Advance human rights and social and economic onstrate competency in the following 10 major areas. justice. 2.1.6 Engage in research-informed practice and Educational Policy Competencies practice-informed research. 2.1.7 Apply knowledge of human behavior and the Social workers must: social environment. 2.1.1 Identify as a professional social worker and 2.1.8 Engage in policy practice to advance social and conduct oneself accordingly. economic well-being and to deliver effective 2.1.2 Apply social work ethical principles to guide social work services. professional practice. 2.1.9 Respond to contexts that shape practice. 2.1.3 Apply critical thinking to inform and communi- 2.1.10 Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with cate professional judgments. individuals, families, groups, organizations, and 2.1.4 Engage diversity and difference in practice. communities. (pp. 3–7) Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 22 The Profession of Social Work knowledge, skills, and values that are evident through- of what is stated as true or what appears to be true out social work curricula. The last five competencies and the resulting expression of an opinion or con- relate to traditional content areas or courses in social clusion based on that scrutiny, and (2) the creative work programs—social work research, human behav- formulation of an opinion or conclusion when pre- ior and the social environment, social welfare policy, sented with a question, problem, or issue. It involves and social work practice (competencies 9 and 10). not taking at face value what you are told to believe. Rather, critical thinking entails using creative anal- Competency 1: Identification as a ysis of suppositions to determine for yourself what Professional Social Worker is really true or what is the best choice among alter- Social workers should “serve as representatives of the natives. It also concerns the ability to communicate profession, its mission, and its core values” (CSWE, clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing. 2008b, p. 3). They should be knowledgeable about social work’s development and history (discussed Competency 4: Engagement of in Chapter 6). They should conduct themselves in Diversity in Practice an ethical, professional manner, providing effective Diversity refers to the wide variety of differences service to clients and respecting clients’ right to self- characterizing people. People meriting special atten- determination. tion from the social work profession include, but are In practice, social workers should advocate on not limited to, groups distinguished by “age, class, their clients’ behalf when services or improved color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender policies governing service provision are necessary. identity and expression, immigration status, political They should continue developing their skills and ideology, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation” acquiring new knowledge throughout their careers (CSWE, 2008b, p. 5). Any time a person can be iden- to better serve clients. Finally, they should seek help tified as belonging to a group that differs in some from supervisors and consultants when needed. respect from the majority of others in society, that person is subject to the effects of human diversity. Competency 2: The Application of Social Work Because social workers have a wide variety of cli- Ethical Principles to Guide Practice ents, demonstrating almost every type of need and From the many times they’ve been mentioned problem, they must be integrally familiar with the already, you probably have noticed that social work concept of human diversity. Four facets are especially values and ethics are critical to social work prac- significant. First, social workers must appreciate tice. They help practitioners assess what’s important differences and focus on strengths. Second, they must or right in any situation and provide guidelines for be sensitive to and address any hardships and nega- making ethical decisions and good judgment calls. tive treatment clients may face because they belong Professional social workers should demonstrate to some diverse group. Third, they must introspec- competency in recognizing personal values and in tively assess their own attitudes and strive to elimi- employing “principles of ethical reasoning to arrive nate any prejudices they might have. Fourth, social at principled decisions” (CSWE, 2008b, p. 4). workers must see themselves as lifelong learners The NASW Code of Ethics mentioned earlier about the many facets of human diversity, especially provides some basic guidelines for social work prac- those characterizing their clients. Chapter 3 examines titioners, as does the International Federation of various aspects of human diversity in more depth. Social Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work Ethics in Social Work Statement of Competency 5: The Advancement Principles. Chapter 2 reviews values, ethics, and some of Human Rights and Social and of the issues involved more thoroughly. Economic Justice The concepts of human rights and social and eco- Competency 3: The Application of nomic justice are related to the concept of human Critical Thinking to Inform Professional diversity. Human rights involve the premise that all Judgments people, regardless of race, culture, or national ori- We have already stressed the importance of criti- gin, are entitled to basic rights and treatment. Social cal thinking. It is defined as (1) the careful scrutiny justice is the idea that in a perfect world all citizens Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 23 would have identical “rights, protection, opportuni- become more effective in their direct practice by ties, obligations, and social benefits” (Barker, 2003, choosing interventions that have been proven suc- p. 405). Similarly, economic justice involves the distri- cessful, thereby getting better and clearer results. bution of resources in a fair and equitable manner. Framing social work interventions so they can be Social work graduates must demonstrate competency evaluated through research provides information in understanding these concepts and their theoretical about which specific techniques work best with bases; social workers must advocate on the behalf of which problems. Evaluation of practice throughout these principles and incorporate the principles into the intervention process can help determine whether their practice (CSWE, 2008b, p. 5). a worker is really helping a client. Another important concept in social work is Second, accumulated research helps build a foun- populations-at-risk, groups of people with some iden- dation for planning effective interventions. Knowl- tified characteristics that are at greater risk of social edge of what has worked best in the past provides and economic deprivation than those in the main- guidelines for approaches and techniques to be used stream. Because social work practice involves getting in the present and in the future. Research establishes people resources and helping them solve problems, the basis for the development of programs and poli- social workers frequently work with populations- cies that affect many people. Such knowledge can also at-risk of such deprivations. It follows that social be used to generate new theories and ideas to further workers need information and insight concerning enhance the effectiveness of social work practice. these people’s special issues and needs. Therefore, social workers require both theoretical and practice Evidence-Based Practice Another term frequently content concerning the dynamics and results of dif- used in social work, which has a meaning similar to ferential, unfair treatment. research-informed practice, is evidence-based practice. One especially important social work value is This is “the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use empowerment—the “process of increasing personal, of current best evidence in making decisions about interpersonal, or political power so that individu- the care of clients” (Gambrill, 2000, p. 46; Race, als can take action to improve their life situations” 2008; Rubin, 2008). Gambrill (2000) explains: (Gutierrez, 2001, p. 210). Some groups of people suf- fer from stereotypes, discrimination, and oppression. It involves integrating individual practice exper- It is social work’s task to empower clients in general tise with the best available external evidence from and members of oppressed groups in particular. systematic research as well as considering the val- ues and expectations of clients. External research Competency 6: Engagement in findings related to problems are drawn on if they Research-Informed Practice are available and they apply to a particular client. Social work students must demonstrate competency Involving clients as informed participants in a col- in research-informed practice. This means social work- laborative helping relationship is a hallmark of ers should use the approaches and interventions in evidence-based practice. Clients are fully informed their practice that research has determined are effec- about the risks and benefits of recommended ser- tive. Social workers should employ “research find- vices as well as alternatives (including the alterna- ings to improve practice, policy, and social service tive of doing nothing). . . . The term evidence-based delivery” (CSWE, 2008b, p. 5). Social workers might practice is preferable to the term empirical prac- also have opportunities to participate in practice- tice. The latter term now seems to be applied to based research. This research, which closely involves material that has been published, whether or not it the everyday work of practitioners, focuses on col- is evidence-based. Such use represents an appeal to lecting data and providing results directly related authority (not evidence). (pp. 46–47) to the processes of social work practice (Tripodi & Lalayants, 2008, p. 518). Social work programs have Content of Social Work Research The content of traditionally included a “Social Work Research” social work research tends to fall within four major course or sequence of courses in their curricula. categories (Reid, 1995; Tripodi & Lalayants, 2008). Knowledge of social work research is important First, many studies involve the behavior of individ- for two basic reasons. First, it can help social workers ual clients and their interactions with others close to Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 24 The Profession of Social Work them, including families and small groups. Second, the effects of social welfare policies are all aspects much research focuses on how services are provided of people’s lives that can fall under scrutiny. Focus to clients, what such services involve, and how suc- on Critical Thinking 1.4 provides an example of how cessfully they accomplish their goals. Third, some social workers might focus on the environmental studies address social workers’ attitudes and educa- context of a problem. tional backgrounds, in addition to major trends in the profession. Fourth, some research involves the Competency 8: Engagement in Policy Practice study of “organizations, communities, and social to Advance Social and Economic Well-Being policy” (Reid, 1995, p. 2044). This latter category Social workers must understand social welfare poli- emphasizes the importance of the larger social envi- cies, their history, and how they affect work with cli- ronment and its effects on clients’ behavior and ents. Policy, in its simplest form, can be thought of conditions. as rules. Our lives and those of social workers’ cli- ents are governed by rules—about how we drive our Competency 7: Application of Knowledge of cars, when we go to school, how we talk or write sen- Human Behavior and the Social Environment tences, and so on. (Note that Chapter 6 explores the Social workers must be knowledgeable about human history of social welfare policy development.) behavior and the social environment. We have estab- Policies, in essence, are rules that tell us which actions lished that focusing on people’s functioning within among a multitude of actions we may take and which the environmental context is an important thrust of we may not. Policies guide our work and our decisions. social work. Only after assessing and understanding For the purpose of understanding social welfare and that functioning can social workers proceed with an the provision of social welfare services, policy might be intervention plan. Social workers should have knowl- divided into two major categories: social welfare policy edge of “biological, social, cultural, psychological, and agency policy. Social welfare policies are the laws and spiritual development” as this occurs over the and regulations that govern which social welfare pro- lifespan (CSWE, 2008b, p. 6). “Human Behavior grams exist, what categories of clients are served, and and the Social Environment” is the basis for another who qualifies for a given program. They also set stan- course or sequence of courses traditionally included dards regarding the type of services to be provided and in the social work curriculum. the qualifications of the service provider. People are constantly and dynamically involved in In addition to the broader realm of social welfare ongoing activity and communication with others in policies, agency policies are standards adopted by the environment. Assessment is the identification of individual organizations and programs that provide the “nature and extent of client needs and concerns, services (e.g., a family service agency, a Department as well as critical information about client resources of Human Services, or a nursing home). Such stan- and supports and other environment factors” so dards may specify the agency’s structure, the qual- that a helping plan can be devised and implemented ifications of supervisors and workers, the rules (Blythe & Reithoffer, 2000, p. 551). Social work governing what workers can do, and the proper pro- assessment seeks to discover what in any particular cedures for completing a family assessment. situation causes a problem to continue despite the Knowledge of policy is vital for social workers. client’s expressed wish to change it. Focusing on the An organization’s policy can dictate how much vaca- environment means looking not only at individuals tion an employee can have and how raises are earned. themselves but also at their involvement with fam- An adoption agency’s policy can determine who is ily members, neighbors, work colleagues, the politi- eligible to adopt a child. A social program’s policies cal system, and agencies providing services within determine who gets needed services and resources. the community. This means that clients’ problems Social workers must become actively involved in are not viewed solely as their own fault. The forces establishing and changing social welfare policies for surrounding the client frequently cause or contrib- the benefit of their clients; policies determine how ute to problems, so social workers must focus their money is budgeted and spent, and where resources assessment on many levels. How the client and the are made available for clients. Practitioners must be problem fit into the larger scheme of things is criti- competent in undertaking policy practice to enhance cal. Poverty, discrimination, social pressures, and people’s well-being and deliver effective social work Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 25 FOCUS ON CRITICAL THINKING 1.4 Focusing on the Environment Context of Problems Trevor is a 15-year-old gang member in an inner city. beyond a focus on the individual to assess the many The gang is involved in drug dealing, which, of course, environmental impacts and interactions gives the social is illegal. However, when assessing the situation and worker a better understanding of the whole situation. potential actions, a broader perspective is necessary. The answer might not be to send Trevor to the state Looking at how the environment encourages and even juvenile correctional facility for a year or two and then supports the illegal activity is critical in understanding return him to the same community with the same how to solve the problem. Trevor’s father is no longer friends and same problems. Such a “remedy” focuses involved with Trevor’s family. Now it’s only Trevor, his on the individual in a very limited manner. mother, and three younger brothers. Trevor’s mother A social work perspective views Trevor as a person works a 6-day-per-week, 9-hour-per-day second-shift who’s acting as part of a family and a community. job at Harry’s Hole, a local all-night diner, where she Trevor is affected, influenced, supported, and limited slings burgers. Although she loves her children dearly, by his immediate environment. Continuing along this she can barely make ends meet and has little time to line of thought, other questions can be raised: How supervise them. might Trevor’s environment be changed? What other All of the neighborhood kids belong to one gang or alternatives could be made available to him? another. It gives them a sense of identity and importance, Many alternatives would involve major changes in and it provides social support that often is lacking in their the larger systems around him. Neighborhood youth families. Easy access to drugs offers an opportunity to centers with staff serving as positive role models escape from impoverished, depressing, and apparently could be developed as an alternative to gang member- hopeless conditions. Finally, gang membership gives these ship. Trevor’s school system could be evaluated. Does young people a source of income. In fact, they can get it have enough resources to give him a good educa- relatively large amounts of money in a hurry. tion? Is there a teacher who could serve as his mentor The gang members’ alternatives appear grim. There and enthusiastic supporter? Can a mentorship system are few, if any, positive role models to show them be established within the school? Are scholarships other ways of existence. They don’t see their peers or and loans available to offer him a viable alternative of adults close to them becoming corporate lawyers, sur- college or trade school? Can positive role models geons, or nuclear physicists. They don’t even see any- demonstrate to Trevor and his peers that other ways one who is going or has gone to college. In fact, of life may be open to them? Where might the finishing high school is considered quite a feat. Neigh- resources for implementation of any of these ideas borhood unemployment runs at more than 50%. A come from? few part-time, minimum-wage jobs are available— Concerning Trevor’s family environment, can addi- cleaning washrooms at Bugger’s Burger Bungalow or tional resources be provided? These might include food unloading freight at Shirley’s Shop-Right. But these and housing assistance, quality day care for his younger are unappealing alternatives to the immediate sources brothers, and even educational opportunities for Trev- of gratification and income provided by gang mem- or’s mother so that she, too, could see a brighter future. bership and drug dealing. Even if another minimal Is there a Big Brother organization to provide support source of income could be found, the other rewarding for Trevor and his siblings? Can the neighborhood be aspects of gang membership would be lost. Also, made a better place to live? Can crime be curbed and there’s the all-consuming problem of having no posi- housing conditions improved? tive future to look forward to, so the excitement of the There obviously are no easy answers. Scarcity of present remains seductive. resources remains a fundamental problem. However, This is not to say that it’s right for people like Trevor this illustration is intended to show how a social worker to join vicious gangs and participate in illegal activities. would look at a variety of options and targets of Nor does it mean that Trevor’s plight is hopeless. Going change, and not just at Trevor. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User 26 The Profession of Social Work services. Policy practice involves “efforts to change engagement, assessment, intervention, and evalua- policies in legislative, agency, and community set- tion (CSWE, 2008b; Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2009). tings, whether by establishing new policies, improv- Engagement is the initial period when practitioners ing existing ones, or defeating the policy initiatives orient themselves to the problem at hand and begin to of other people” (Jansson, 2008, p. 14). establish communication and relationships with others Sometimes, for whatever reason, social welfare also addressing the problem. We have established that policies are unfair or oppressive to clients. Ironically, assessment involves the investigation and determina- although such policies are intended to enhance people’s tion of variables affecting an identified problem includ- welfare, sometimes they do not. A social worker may ing the client’s needs and strengths. Intervention is the decide that a policy is ethically or morally intolerable planning and implementation of the plan to solve the and advocate on the behalf of clients to try to change problem and achieve goals. Evaluation is “a process of it. Practitioners can work to change policy “to improve determining whether a given change effort was worth- social justice, fairness, and equality,” potentially affect- while” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2009, p. 269). Other ing “well-being for the overwhelming majority of skills involved in social work practice include “provid- citizens” (Iatridis, 1995, p. 1865). Traditional social ing leadership for policies and services” and “promot- work curricula typically include a course or sequence ing social and economic justice” (CSWE, 2008b, p. 7). of courses on “Social Welfare Policy and Services.” The second important dimension inherent in Com- Social welfare policy sets the stage for what social petency 10 is that practice involves working with indi- workers can do in practice; Chapter 7 explores the viduals, families, groups, organizations (large and topic more thoroughly. Other chapters discuss many small), and communities. The acquisition of practice types of social welfare policies that affect various cli- skills for use in all of these contexts is what makes social ent populations and social work practices. work useful and practical. Skills provide the muscle to make social work practice effective. Traditional social Competency 9: Responsiveness to Contexts work curricula typically incorporate a sequence of that Shape Practice “Social Work Practice” courses that address the con- Social workers must demonstrate competency in tent described in Competencies 9 and 10. functioning within a wide variety of contexts and set- The social work knowledge base includes infor- tings. They must understand the dynamics involved mation about skills in addition to data concerning in macro environments like organizations, com- problems and services. A social worker must know munities, and legislative bodies that establish social what skills will be most effective in what situations. welfare policies. Practitioners must function with Consider a family whose home suddenly burns and within these systems, serving as leaders to advo- to the ground. Its members need immediate shel- cate on the behalf of clients. They must keep abreast ter. The social worker decides it’s necessary to of new technology, demographic changes, and social use brokering skills—that is, skills for seeking out trends in order to respond to current issues. and linking people with the resources they need. Competency 9 reflects an aspect of social work In this situation, brokering skills take precedence practice that is closely related to Competency 10, over other skills. For instance, using less directive which is described next. counseling techniques to explore the relationship between the spouses is inappropriate at this time Competency 10: Engagement, Assessment, because there is no current evidence of need. Such Intervention, and Evaluation with Individuals, intervention may be necessary in the future, but Families, Groups, Organizations, only after the immediate crisis of a lack of shelter and Communities has been resolved. Social workers must be competent in employing Social workers can choose from a multitude of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evalua- practice techniques and theories about these tech- tion when working with individuals, families, groups, niques. Knowledge of the effectiveness of vari- organizations, and communities. All of these terms ous techniques is critical to selecting those that can are prominent in social work practice, which involves accomplish the most in a given situation and to imple- the doing of social work. menting research-informed practice (Competency 6). There are two main dimensions inherent in Com- Regardless of techniques chosen and used, empha- petency 10. First, the process of social work includes sis is placed on client strengths and empowerment, Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Licensed to: iChapters User Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare 27 ongoing client collaboration at all stages of the Association of Social Workers (NASW) branch office, change process, and appreciation of diversity (Pin- policy-related placements such as legislative offices, derhughes, 1995). The foundation of social work or placements in community organizations, provided practice is generalist practice, discussed next. appropriate social work supervision is established. BSW placements require a minimum of 400 hours Generalist Practice and MSW placements a minimum of 900 hours. Generalist practice incorporates all 10 competencies Many social work students find their field education and forms the heart of work education and social to be the high point of their educational experience. work practice. It distinguishes social work from other professions. Generalist practice is the appli- cation of an eclectic knowledge base,3 professional Chapter Summary values, and a wide range of skills to target any size The following summarizes this chapter’s content as system for change within the context of four pri- it relates to the chapter objectives presented at the mary processes (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2009). First, beginning of the chapter. Objectives include the generalist practice emphasizes client empowerment. following: Second, it involves working effectively within an organizational structure and doing so under super- A Define social work and social welfare. vision. Third, it requires the assumption of a wide range of professional roles. Fourth, it involves the Social work is the professional activity of helping indi- application of critical thinking skills to the planned- viduals, groups, or communities enhance or restore change (intervention) process. Chapter 4 elaborates their capacity for social functioning and creating soci- further on generalist practice. Note that BSW pro- etal conditions favorable to this goal. Social welfare is grams prepare graduates for generalist practice by a nation’s system of programs, benefits, and services providing curricula that integrate all 10 competen- that help people meet those social, economic, educa- cies (CSWE, 2008b). tional, and health needs that are fundamental to the maintenance of society. Advanced Practice Advanced practice, which characterizes MSW curri- B Explain critical thinking and provide a cula, provides a specialized concentration that builds framework for examining a wide range of upon a generalist practice foundation. For instance, concepts and issues. concentrations might include a specialization in Critical thinking is (1) the careful scrutiny of what mental health, school social work, work with chil- is stated as true or what appears to be true and the dren and families, corrections, health, social services resulting expression of an opinion or conclusion administration, or community organization. based on that scrutiny, and (2) the creative formu- lation of an opinion or conclusion when presented Field Education with a question, problem, or issue. Examining and Field education is considered the “signature pedagogy” evaluating facts and issues involve three steps: (1) ask of social work education by CSWE; “signature peda- questions; (2) assess the established facts and issues gogy represents the central form of instruction and involved; and (3) assert a concluding opinion. learning in which a profession socializes its students to perform the role of practitioner” (CSWE, 2008b, C Discuss residual, institutional, and p. 8). Field education provides a real-life experience in developmental perspectives on social welfare. a social work setting where student social workers are placed and can practice their skills under supervision. The residual perspective conceives of social welfare Placement settings may vary. They include social ser- as focusing on problems and gaps. The institutional vice agencies, hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, perspective of social welfare views people’s needs as organizational placements such as a state National a normal part of life. Society has a responsibility to support its members and provide needed benefits and services. The developmental perspective seeks 3The term eclectic refers to “selecting what appears to be best in to identify social interventions that have a positive various doctrines, methods, or styles” (Mish, 1995, p. 365). impact on economic development. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. 28 The Profession of Social Work D Explain the conservative–liberal continuum with ics, biology, psychiatry, counseling, and cultural respect to viewing the social welfare system. anthropology. Conservatism is the philosophy that individuals are I Discuss the uniqueness of social work. responsible for themselves, government should pro- vide minimal interference in people’s lives, and change Social work is unique in that it focuses on people’s is generally unnecessary. Liberalism is the philosophy most difficult problems, often targets the environ- that government should be involved in the social, ment for change, stresses the need for advocacy on political, and economic structure so that all people’s a client’s behalf, stems from a core of professional rights and privileges are protected in the name of values, and emphasizes the importance of working social justice. Radicalism is the philosophy that the in a partnership with clients. social and political system as it stands is not structur- J Identify some basic concepts in systems theories ally capable of truly providing social justice, so fun- damental changes in those systems are necessary. and the ecological perspective that are important for understanding social work. E Examine your personal attitudes about some Important concepts in systems theories and the eco- social welfare issues. logical perspective relevant to social work practice Responding to issues and questions regarding the include system (micro, mezzo, and macro), client importance of change and the responsibility of system, social environment, and coping. government can help an individual determine his or her personal stance on the conservative–liberal K Describe social work education’s goals, continuum. curriculum, and competencies. The Council on Social Work Education’s Educational F Explain social work’s fields of practice. Policy and Accreditation Standards require that Fields of practice in social work include children and accredited social work programs prove that students families, aging, disabilities, health, mental health, demonstrate 10 competencies. These competencies substance abuse, schools, and corrections. Other are stated and explained. Courses offered in tradi- contexts for practice are occupational social work, tional social work curricula are identified. The core rural social work, police social work, and forensic social work concepts of general practice, advanced social work. practice, and field education are introduced. G Explore the process of choosing a career. LOOKING AHEAD The continuum of social work careers includes bac- calaureate social workers (BSWs), master’s social This chapter introduced the basic concept of social workers (MSWs), and social workers who have doc- welfare and the foundations of the social work torates in social work (Ph.D. or DSW). When con- profession. The next chapter focuses on social work sidering a career, it’s important to think about your values and ethics, a primary content area that under- general orientation toward the future, the extent to lies and guides the social work profession. which you are people-oriented versus non-people- oriented, the ways in which you would like to work with people, what majors are available, and what FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION type of social work you would like to practice. ON THE INTERNET See this text’s Website at http://www.cengage.com/ H Address how social work builds on social_work/kirst-ashman for learning tools such as other disciplines. tutorial quizzing, Web links, glossary, flashcards, Social work builds on many disciplines including and PowerPoint® slides. psychology, sociology, political science, econom- Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part.