SOCIAL WORK SKILLS
During the beginning phase, you introduce and identify yourself and seek introductions from prospective clients and involved others. Following the exchange of introductions, you describe a tentative initial purpose for the meeting, possibly identify one of more professional roles that you might undertake, orient participants to the process, and identify relevant policy and ethical factors that might apply. Throughout this beginning process, you regularly seek feedback concerning others’ understanding of and reactions to your introductory comments. By using the beginning skills, you help to clarify the nature and boundaries or ground rules of the helping process, lessen the initial ambivalence people often experience, and establish a tentative direction for work. Introducing Yourself At the beginning of any first interview, you should identify yourself by name and profession and by agency or departmental affiliation. You might also want to provide formal identification, such as a business card. Seeking Introductions Encourage each new client to say her or his name, and then try to pronounce it correctly. In a group, you might ask group members to introduce themselves and share a few of the thoughts that occurred to them as they anticipated coming to this first meeting. Describing Initial Purpose Clearly but succinctly discuss your view of the purpose of the meeting. Orienting Clients Describe how clients can join you as active, collaborative participants in the helping process. Discussing Policy and Ethical Factors Discuss potentially relevant legal, policy and ethical factors. This constitutes part of the informed consent process and is an essential element of professional service to clients. Seeking Feedback Encourage clients to comment about the proposed purpose, your role, their role, policy or ethical factors, or any other aspects of your introductory remarks.
During the exploration phase of social work practice, you encourage clients to share thoughts, feelings, and experiences about the issue or concerns that led to the contact. Although the following exploring skills are especially useful for encouraging mutual consideration of information regarding the person, issue, situation, and strengths, they are also functional throughout the entire helping process. 1
Asking Questions Seek information about the concerns that led to this encounter. Questions serve to elicit facts, ideas, and feelings concerning the person, the issue, the situation, and potential means for resolution. They often yield information necessary for mutual understanding, assessment, decision making, planning, working and evaluating, and ending. Closed-ended questions: Phrased to elicit short responses, sometimes simply yes or no. Closed-ended questions yield a great deal of information in a brief amount of time. Open-ended questions: Encourages people to express themselves expansively and extensively. They tend to further exploration on a deeper level or in a broader way. Seeking Clarification Ask the client to elaborate about something he or she has just said or done. This generates more complete and comprehensible information about particular aspects of the person-issue-situation. Reflecting Content Communicate your understanding of the factual or informational part of a message, by paraphrasing or restating the client’s words. Reflecting Feelings A brief response that communicates your understanding of the feelings expressed by a client. Reflecting Feeling and Meaning Paraphrase or mirror clients’ emotions along with the facts or beliefs associated with them. Partializing Help clients break down multiple or complex aspects and dimensions of the person-issue-situation into more manageable units so you can address them more easily. Going Beyond Take a small leap beyond the expressed message to bring into greater awareness or clarity information that a client already knows.
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