Social Work Theory

Topics: Sociology, Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, Developmental psychology Pages: 5 (1311 words) Published: June 23, 2013
Theories, models and perspectives - Cheat sheet for field instructors Major Theories – Used in Social Work Practice  Systems Theory  Psychodynamic  Social Learning  Conflict Developmental Theories  Theories of moral reasoning (Kohlberg, Gilligan)  Theories of cognition (Piaget)  Transpersonal theories of human development (Transpersonal – means beyond or through the persona or mask. Going beyond identity rooted in the individual body or ego to include spiritual experience or higher levels of consciousness.)  Stage theories – Erikson Primary Perspectives  Strengths  Feminist  Eco-Systems Current Social Work Practice Models  Problem Solving  Task-Centered  Solution – Focused  Narrative  Cognitive-Behavioral  Crisis In brief, social work practice models are like recipes. They are step-by-step guides for client sessions. Perspectives represent what aspects of the session are emphasized or highlighted in a session (i.e. questions asked or time spent). Theories are overall explanations of the person-in-environment configuration. Theories help explain why the problem is occurring and where the most efficient intervention should take place.

Definitions: Theory –A general statement about the real world whose essential truth can be supported by evidence obtained through the scientific method. – Must explain in a provable way why something happens. Ex: Learning theory explains behavior on the basis of what organisms have learned from the environment. Model – Is a blueprint for action. It describes what happens in practice in a general way. Ex: The behavioral model (based on learning theory) gives specific guidelines


for how to effect change. If a parent complains that his child is having difficulty staying in his own bed at night and the parent has been allowing the child to sleep in his/her bed( thereby reinforcing the child’s difficulty) the practitioner would help the parent to extinguish the behavior by removing the reinforcement. Perspective – A way of perceiving the world flows from a value position. Note: The perspective will influence choice of theory and model. Note: Payne ( 1997) argues that social work theory succeeds best when it contains all three elements of perspective, theory and model. Example: Men who batter their partners Theory: Social learning theory – men learn their violent behavior in their family of origin, and from a culture that rewards anger and violence in men; cognitive theory – what men say to themselves in situations of stress increases their anger and their propensity to be violent. Model: Cognitive-behavioral Perspective: Feminist Definitions are from Syers & Boisen (2003) Course handout Payne, M. (1997). Modern Social Work Theory. Lyceum Books 1. Systems theories – Those concepts that emphasize reciprocal relationships between the elements that constitute a whole. These concepts also emphasize the relationships among individuals, groups, organizations, or communities and mutually influencing factors in the environment. Systems theories focus on the interrelationships of elements in nature, encompassing physics, chemistry, biology, and social relationships (general systems theory, ecological perspective, life model, and ecosystems perspective). 2. Psychodynamic Theory –  Psychodynamic psychotherapy is concerned with how internal processes such as needs, drives, and emotions motivate human behavior.  Emotions have a central place in human behavior.  Unconscious, as well as conscious mental activity serves as the motivating force in human behavior.  Early childhood experiences are central in the patterning of an individual’s emotions, and therefore, central to problems of living throughout life.  Individuals may become overwhelmed by internal and/or external demands.  Individuals frequently use ego defense mechanisms to avoid becoming overwhelmed by internal and/or external demands. Note: In current social work practice psychodynamic theory is what the social worker...
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