Description of the Agency referred to and the roles and functions of social workers
Scott is a young Russian boy who suffers from autism. He has communication problems with his peers. He has poor social skills and thus unable to interact with fellow students at school. Several social agencies can address Scott’s problem. For example, the School of Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) is one of the agencies that can help Scott to develop his social skills.
The SSWAA will benefit Scott in terms of improved social skills, creativity, emotional control, and flexibility. The School has two social workers- Libby Nealis and Myrna Mandlawitz- who promote the interests of the families and children (like Scott) enrolled in the SSWAA in Washington DC. Scott stands to benefit from this School because the SSWAA has effective education programs used to train its social workers on how to improve their professional skills so that they can assist children which social problems (Streek, 2009, p. 6).
The Social Work Podcast is another social agency that has well train trained social workers who can help Scott’s parents to learn how to take care of Scott. According to Ruth McRoy, the current Social Work Podcast runs several programs that address adoption cases in the US. The agency helps families manage children adopted from another race or culture. Thus, the Social Work Podcast is the right agency that Scott’s parents can use to address the social problems of their adopted son.
According to Eileen Flanagan, a social worker at the agency, the Social Work Podcast runs several programs to educate social workers on how to address social problems such as suicide; stigma; cognitive- behavior therapy; and autism. Scott’s parents should thus consider hiring a social worker from this agency to help their son (Social Work Podcast, 2011, p.6). Craig Winston Lecroy, one of the social workers at the agency, states that the agency helps children with social problems (such as Scott) learn how to interact with their parents, peers, tutors and other people. The social workers at this agency will thus employ behavior modification guidelines to help Scott improve his social skills at school and home (Social Work Podcast, 2011, p.9).
The importance of the conscious use of self, empathy, and tuning in
Most social workers face social dilemmas especially when they have to determine whether their actions are ethical or right, in light of their professional engagements (Mattison, 2000, p.201). Granted, social workers strive to uphold values that guide their professional decisions. For example, a social worker must make a decision on the optimal treatment method to be administered to a client by making relative comparisons of the merits and demerits of other treatment options at his disposal. The ultimate treatment strategy selected should be in harmony with the ethics of the profession that are used to guide the professional conduct of the social worker (Mattison, 2000, p.202).
The response by a social worker to an ethical dilemma is base on two scenarios: first, whether there is a confluence between the standard ethical practices and the ethical issue at hand; and the ability of the worker to comprehend the current ethical issue he faces. The gist of ethical practice is grounded on the knowledge of the worker concerning precise ethical practices that guide his decision-making process when dealing with a client. A social worker cannot randomly decide an ethical issue. His action depends on the factors and circumstances related to the client, the nature of the ethical problem and the stipulated process (Mattison, 2000, p.203). There are several perspectives that a social worker can use to guide his engagements with a client.
For example, the system perspective can be used to determine the likely outcomes of a given course of intervention. Thus, the main tenet of this approach is that the outcome of the suggested course of action ultimately determines the action plan. This means that an action plan will be highly favored if it results in a desirable outcome. Consequently, an ethical decision is preferred based on its outcome. However, this theory is in stark contrast to the deontological approach which demands that an ethical decision should be made based on the strict conventional moral guidelines. This school of thought is based on the tenet that is deemed to be right or wrong irrespective of its outcome. Thus, a social worker is compelled to observe ethical rules when dealing with a client regardless of the outcome. The ethical rules are thus rigid in all circumstances (Mattison, 2000, p.204).
Social workers are aware their clients have legal rights to self-determination and confidentiality. These should always be the guiding principles when they engage with their clients (Mattison, 2000, p.204). For example, a social worker selected to help Scott must weigh his decision to reveal confidential information about the boy to his parents against the legal and ethical obligations of his profession. Thus, the social worker must weigh and determine the likely courses of actions and the outcomes of his choices before making a decision (Mattison, 2000, p.207).
Main issues in the client’s system that the social worker must address
A strength-based approach is an important strategy that a social worker must use when preparing for the first session with a client suffering from a mental illness such as Scott. A social worker must employ this approach when assessing the client in terms of his abilities, competencies, hopes, and values irrespective of how they may be twisted by the mental illness. The social worker must integrate the strength-based approach to understand what the victim of mental disorder is able or not able to accomplish.
The worker must adopt an objective opinion and be receptive to what the client tells him. Usually, the officially recommended language and lexicons used in social therapy programs may limit the ability of social workers to understand and help a client with a mental illness. It is thus vital that the worker adjusts according to the abilities of the client and communicate in a manner that the victim will be able to express his thoughts in an effective way (Saleebey, 1996, p.297).
Social workers must learn how to help a client to develop an optimistic conviction about his prospects of recovery. Thus, the worker must develop an enabling environment that will convince his client that his mental conditions can be corrected. Also, human emotions are known to be an important ingredient in the healing process. When a victim develops positive emotions about his prospects of recovery, his body’s healing abilities are boosted (Saleebey, 1996, p.301).
The strength-based approach focuses on two aspects: the ability of a client to initiate a self-healing process; and the need for a communal support that foster an optimistic view about the prospect of a better life. It is thus vital social workers help victims learn about their conditions so that they can express themselves effectively. The task for the helper is to assist the client (such as Scott) to develop social skills, invent the plot and deal with the prejudices they experience in the society they live in.
Also, the social worker must use the strength-based approach to connect with the client on terms. The helper must be ready to meet directly with the victim of mental disorder and to take part in a beneficial discussion. The social worker must make an effort to share knowledge, concerns, hopes, tools, and respect with his patient. This process of sharing knowledge should be done on a collaborative basis because the ability of the victim to express his thoughts and desires marks the first step towards the healing process (Saleebey, 1996, p.303).
The strengths apparent in the client system
It has been established, through the community empowerment model, that mentally deprived victims have an inborn knowledge and flexibility that can be utilized to achieve individual desires and enhance community vigor. The model postulates that each person (client) has innate wisdom, resilience, health, positive motivation and intelligence that can be accessed via support, education, and motivation. The aims of community empowerment and health realization is to reengage the client to their innate health then guide them in helping other members of the community to realize their health.
The outcome is a transformation in individuals and communities that develops from within. This thesis is based on the assumption that individuals (like Scott) do possess inherent abilities for rebound and restitution. It further states that individuals with emotional problems such as Scott can be assisted to overcome their conditions by developing conviction based on the values and prospects of renewal. Thus, the community empowerment model proposes that resilience and health as community schemes, an outcome of communal relation, the cumulative dream, and the reality of being part of the community (Saleebey, 1996, p.301).
The initial process of engagement with the client
The social worker selected to assist Scott should start the engagement process by explaining to the boy how he came to know about the case and who referred it to him. The social worker must also share with Scott his opinion about the reason for this first contact and discuss with the boy how he can be of help in the consequent sessions. Thus, the social worker should make an effort to develop a rapport that will facilitate productive communication with the client.
This is especially vital because it encourages Scott to share his experiences and attend subsequent sessions without any form of inhibition. By developing a good rapport, the social worker will be able to convince his client that he is interested in his welfare. Also, the social worker must address other factors that may hamper effective communications such as ethnicity, race, gender and sexual inclinations (Social Work, n.d., p.35).
There are several characteristics exhibited by involuntary clients (such as Scott). To begin with, they consider themselves to be well and thus do not need any help. However, social workers with enormous skills and experience are usually able to surpass the initial resistance by the involuntary clients thus giving credence to the tenets of the system theory which postulates that motivation is directly affected when s social worker and client interact.
In some cases, the client may accept that he has a problem but inactive during engagement sessions waiting for the social worker to solve all his problems. This poses a seemingly impossible task to the helper. One useful strategy that the social worker can employ is to expressively state the client’s problem and make out all efforts the client is putting in action to solve the problem. This strategy will serve as a motivation for the client to take an active role during the sessions (Social Work, n.d., p.35).
During engagement sessions, the social workers can also enhance the self-efficacy of his client. It has been noted that self-efficacy is a powerful tool that enhances the healing process of the client. A social worker can employ this strategy by helping his client in implementing certain manners that are a precondition to attaining their objectives. Moreover, the social worker must endeavor to congratulate his client whenever he makes a small positive step towards attaining set objectives. Self-efficacy can also be boosted by the client’s family members and friends.
For example, the social worker can teach the family how to help the child accomplish his tasks and giving the child credit for carrying out the task successfully. Motivation can also be perceived concerning phases of change. A client may sometimes be in the pre-contemplation phase which means that he is not aware of his illness. A client can also be in a contemplation phase when he knows his problem but does not know remedial options available. In this case, the social worker can assist the client to survey options available to treat his condition (Social Work, n.d., p.36).
Therefore, social workers must tap into the innate motivation of the client and help persons who readily admit they have a problem but are not willing to work towards solving it. Social workers must, therefore, offer relevant information to the prospective clients concerning the benefits to be reaped from the engagement sessions. Other efforts entail recognizing the types of client’s issues that the agency and social workers can help alleviate, the rights of the clients such as confidentiality and situations which may warrant their violation and information concerning the type of conduct to expect from the client and the social worker.
A social worker must also reveal empathy while engaging with the client. This is an important element during the engagement sessions since the client will know that the social worker understands what he feels. The client is motivated even further to be open and share his deep feeling with the social worker. When the client is more willing to share his deep feelings, the social worker can understand the situation of the client and the role played by emotions concerning their abilities and difficulties. This implies that the ability of the social worker to communicate effectively will boost the relationship between the client and the social worker; and create an environment where the client is free to share his experiences (Hepworth, 2008, p.36).
Hepworth, D (2008). Direct Social Work Practise: Theory and Skills. Canada: Cengage learning. Inc.
Mattison, M. (2000). Ethical Decision Making: The Pearson in the Process. Social Work, 45(3), 201-212.
Saleebey, D. (1996). The Strengths Perspective in Social Work Practice: Extensions and Cautions. Social Work, 41(3), 296-305.
Social Work Podcast. (2011). Web.
Streek, F. (2009). School Social Work Association of America. Web.