Essay in Social Work Theory

Topics: Attachment theory, Social work, Mary Ainsworth Pages: 9 (3589 words) Published: April 16, 2013

ASSIGNMENT TITLE: Choose at least two social work theories; explain their main principles, advantages and disadvantages and apply them to the assessment, planning and intervention in one of the case studies provided below. Discuss your rationale for choosing the theories selected.

Case Study 2:

Ramesh is 45 year old Sri Lankan man who works as a telephone engineer. He lives alone, but for many years he looked after his elderly mother, who died 18 months ago. Ramesh was recently hospitalized after a suicide attempt. He had been taken anti-depressants for several months before he took an overdose. According to his sister, he had become depressed and was drinking and smoking a lot, and hardly ever eating. He had been taking time off, and at risk of losing his job with BT.

His sister says that Ramesh went downhill after the death of their mother, but that she was surprised at this as he always complained about at the things he had to do for her when she was alive. The sister has a family of her own, but says that she has tried to involve Ramesh in her family, but he had mostly refused. He had friends who he used to play cricket with, but he has stopped seeing them. He had been saying that there’s nothing to live for, and he wanted to be left alone.

Ramesh is due to be released from hospital in two weeks time.


Theory is defined as a set of ideas which can be beliefs or assumptions that guides social work professional to provide high quality practice and work effectively (Oko, 2008:6). A theory represents therefore a tool for social work to use. It also helps workers to make sense of what is happening on people’s life and what can be done to help them. This piece of work aims to explain the main principles, advantages and disadvantages of attachment and crisis intervention theories. Also, how these theoretical frameworks direct workers to carry out assessment, planning and intervention process and apply them to Ramesh’s case study illustrates above. I will then consider how far these models facilitate anti-oppressive practice in working with service users and why I choose them.

To begin with, I will talk about attachment theory. The background of this theory was first developed by Freud. He was a psychoanalyst who viewed the bond between mother and an infant as sexually orientated. “The bond which links mother to infant is libido” (Holmes 1997:62). According to Freud, an infant expresses anxiety when he or she cannot suck the mother’s breast. During the feeding, an infant “discharges his libido” (Holmes 1997:62), in consequence the retention of anxiety diminishes. In the contrary, John Bowlby saw attachment between a mother and an infant as a “psychological bond in its own right not an instinct” (Holmes 1997:63) as Freud has described it. In addition, a child needs a mother to satisfy a physiological need to be able to cope throughout the life course. According to Bowlby, an infant that experiences separation or loss from the mother can have mental problem in adulthood or juvenile delinquency in childhood. The nature of the bond is about love, affection and a consistent and emotionally invested person in a child. In the absence of love, a child feels disorientated, lost and unhappy. “I am close to my loved one I feel good, when I am far away, I am anxious, sad or lonely” (Holmes 1997:67). The proximity seeking is essential because a child needs to be comforted when feels distress, for this reason a cuddle or a touch from a love one is a great help. Bowlby also stated that the proximity of the main care giver, who is the mother, is essential. Babies need to feel attached to one person. He argued that the mother was the best person to play that role. According to Bowlby babies have a biological need to form an attachment to a particular person who feeds and cares for them. He called it monotropy. He maintained that this was...

Bibliography: Holmes, J. (1996) Attachment, Intimacy, Autonomy: Using Attachment Theory in Adult Psychotherapy. New Jersey: Book Mart Press.
Holmes, J. (1997) John Bowlby and Attachment Theory. London: Routledge.
Messer, D & Jones, F. (2001) Psychology and Social Care. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd.
Oko, J. (2008) Understanding Social Work Theory. London: Learning Matters.
Payne, M. (2005) Modern Social Work Theory. 3rd ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Roberts, A R. (1995) Crisis Intervention and Time-Limited Cognitive Treatment. London: Sage Publication Ltd.
Thompson, N. (2001) Anti-discriminatory Practice. 3rd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
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