The Role and Applicability of Counselling in Social Work Practice
Social work originated as a community help measure in the 19th century and has since then become an organised discipline that aims to support and empower those who suffer from social unfairness. Apart from helping the disadvantaged to live with dignity, social work aims at achieving social inclusion and has been found to be effective in correcting disparities and in helping individuals to overcome impediments that arise from different aspects of life; apart from those that require knowledge of the physical and medical sciences. Social work practice has, over the years, become integral to Britain’s working life and current estimates put the number of active social workers in the country at significantly more than one million. (Parrott, 2002) Whilst social workers can be called upon to assist all sections of the community, the majority of their assignments concern helping individuals in stressful situations and those experiencing difficulties with issues that relate to emotions, relationships, unemployment, work, disabilities, discrimination, substance abuse, finances, housing, domestic violence, poverty, and social exclusion. Such a range of applications has necessitated the development of (a) a variety of skills and techniques, (b) methods to transfer these skills to social workers, and (c) procedures for the delivery of social work in a variety of settings, which include schools and colleges, households, hospitals, prisons and secured homes, and training and community centres. (Parton, 1996) Social work practice focuses on dealing with the problems of service users. The maintenance and improvement of their social, physical, and mental states is often dependent upon the effectiveness of social work intervention. (Miller, 2005) Users of social work services are largely economically and/or socially disadvantaged, and the vulnerabilities, which arise from these circumstances, frequently contribute to the nature of their relationships with service providers. (Miller, 2005) Social work makes use of a broad range of knowledge and incorporates information obtained from several disciplines; it empowers social workers in practice to use their acquired knowledge and skills first to engage service users and then to bring about positive changes in undesirable emotional states and behavioural attitudes, or in positions of social disempowerment. (Miller, 2005) Counselling forms one of the main planks of social work practice and constitutes the chief mode through which social workers directly engage service users; it is considered to be the public face of the activity and is an integrative course of action between a service user, who is vulnerable and who needs support, and a counsellor who is trained and educated to give this help. Face to face and 121 interactions between social workers and service users take place mostly through counselling activities. Apart from the directly beneficial effect that occurs through counselling, much of the social work approach that needs to be adopted in specific cases for other interventionist activity is decided on the basis of feedback provided by counsellors. This assignment aims to study and analyse the importance of counselling in social work practice.
Commentary and Analysis
Social work practice, in the UK, has evolved along with the development of the profession, and with the progression of social policy, ever since the first social workers were trained at the London School of Economics, at the beginning of the 20th century. (Parton, 1996) Whilst social policy, formulated at the level of policy makers, defines the broad routes taken to alleviate social inequalities, the actual delivery of social work occurs through social work practice, an activity carried out by thousands of social workers all over the United Kingdom. (Harris, 2002) Social work makes...