Social work Relationship based practice
For people who want to dedicate their life to helping others in a practical way, social work can be a fulfilling career. Social work is sometimes termed as “helping people help themselves;” a social worker facilitates change in the behavior of individuals and communities, both large (e.g., a school) and small (e.g., a family). Direct social services usually address the problems of individuals, helping them enhance their capacity to meet social obligations. Social development work is aimed at correcting long-term problems in communities.
In short, social work is about empowering people. A complex endeavor, inciting this shift of others’ perspectives can benefit from the framework of the various theories used in social work practice. A theory is a logical system of concepts that helps to explain why something happens in a particular way and to predict outcomes. By grounding their practice in theory, social workers can better understand his or her own task, orient goal setting, and anticipate outcomes. Click on each theory to jump to it’s section below.
- : Describe and explain behavior, particularly when it comes to how problems develop.
- : A particular way of viewing and thinking about the practice of social work.
- : Provide guidance and expectations for improving outcomes for children, youth, and families.
Orienting theories describe and explain behavior, particularly when it comes to how problems develop. Various theories draw from other disciplines, including biology, psychology, and economics, and are related to all aspects of social work, including human development, personality, family systems, and political power. Orienting theories also attempt to explain large-scale societal problems such as poverty, mental illness, crime, and racial discrimination.
General systems theory emphasizes reciprocal relationships between the elements of a system—”a holistic, organized unit of interdependent, transacting, and mutually influencing parts (individuals or collectives and their subunits) within an identifiable (social-ecological) environment” (Siporin, 1975). Systems theory draws the social worker’s attention to the various systems within which an individual functions—groups, organizations, societies, and so forth—in order to help intervene at multiple stages in an individual’s life.
By focusing on understanding the human condition and consideration of cross-cultural elements, systems theory has helped drive social work’s understanding of human behavior in the social environment.
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