Social Work Pioneer
William J. Reid was a social work scholar and founding editor of the NASW Press
Journal Social Work Research. Reid was a distinguished professor in the University of
Albany, State University of New Yorks's School of Social Welfare, where he had chaired
the doctoral program since 1985. He was a recognized scholar in the social work practice.
Reid received his BSW and MSW from the University of Michigan in 1950 and
1952 and earned his Doctor of Social Welfare degree from Columbia University in 1963.
He served in the Army as a psychiatric social worker and then held academic posts at
Columbia University, the University of Chicago and Albany.
Reid was well known for the developing of the task-centered practice model, which
he wrote a comprehensive book about. The Task Planner, was a-to-z set of task planners
for more than one hundred psychosocial problems from alcoholism and anxiety to
domestic violence and sexual abuse. It included a guide and resource material like, a
menu of action the client can undertake to effect problem resolution, a clear step by step
guide to the practitioner's role in facilitating these actions, a glossary of procedures for
human service professionals and a CD-ROM for computer usage.
The techniques found in The Task Planner, present clients with specific tasks for
helping resolve their problems. Clients are actively involved in reaching their own solutions
or coping mechanisms, both on their own and in treatment sessions, giving them a sense
The practice model is widely used as a basis for delivering and managing social
work services. The model brought about a shift in the approach to service delivery and
stressed the value of short term interventions and a focus on achievable tasks.
William J Reid also wrote the book, Educational Supervision in Social Work. In the
book, Reid focused on writing theories about the priniciples and purposes of educational
supervision. It has been proven difficult to translate these ideas into a coherent model of
supervisory practice. It is a comprehensive analysis that examines the history and
principles of and presents an in depth discussion of its practical implementation, including
detailed case vignettes interspersed throughout, providing concrete examples of p;utting
theory into practice.
Reid also wrote an article, The Role of Science in Social Work, which was an age-
old debate about the role of science in social work has intensified with the growth of
scientific activities and the emergence of philosophically based criticisms of prevailing
scientific paradigms. Some issues included: constructionist challenges to the role of
research in validating social work knowledge, divisions over whether there is enough
credible scientific knowledge to make a difference in practice, nad properly utilizing the
controverises by applying research methods in practice.
In findings, Reid thought that scientific methods were likely to provide superior
knowledge, because they have evolved to become humankind's most powerful form of
enquiry. Enough research does exist to make a difference in practice, and there are
means to enable its dissemination and utilization. A number of these methods can be
productively used in practice.
For all that Reid accomplished in his career, he was awarded every major research
prize in social work including the George Herbert Jones Professorship at the University of
Chicago, the Award for Excellence in Research from the National Association of Social
Workers and the Distinguished...