Two Perspectives of Engagement with Clients
One thing that makes social work stand out from other professions is the relationship that a social worker builds with their client. It is an important factor but can also be very challenging at times. There are several stages to the social work treatment process. Those stages include; engagement, assessment, intervention, and termination (USC VAC, 2013). It is vital that a social worker begin to develop a relationship with their client during their first session and build on that relationship over time. The treatment stage in which a social worker can initiate the development of a relationship with their client is in the engagement stage, which serves as the foundation for the rest of the sessions to come.
One thing to consider as a social worker is to be able to identify with your clients. The best way to do that is to be aware of your own cultural values, beliefs and preferences you hold and also how you would want a social worker to interact with you. Being a self-aware social worker is imperative so that you can keep from bringing you own thoughts and ideas into the treatment plan for your client. Understanding and knowing where you stand on certain issues important thing to be conscious of so that you know what to separate yourself from while trying to build rapport with a client. If I Were the Client
As a beginning social worker it is important for me to be aware of my own personal values and beliefs and also think about how I would like to be treated as client by a social worker during the engagement phase. Seeking help for emotional issues is always hard to do no matter how accepting you are of the mental health processes. Building a rapport with my social worker and establishing trust are essential to me in the beginning stages phases of my treatment. I want to feel as if my social worker truly cares about why I am there
As a black, female client, working with a hypothetical white, male therapist one thing that would be very important for my social worker to be aware of is where I come from and how my environment might influence my treatment process. I need to my social worker to work with me in finding solutions to the problems I am facing. Utilizing the ecological perspective during my treatment would be very beneficial to getting the root of the problem. I would feel that my social worker does not only care about my treatment but is an advocate in helping to achieve that change. According to McKay et al (1996), the ecological perspective consists of four critical elements; (1) clarifying the helping process, which is the social worker introducing themselves to me and explaining the treatment process and making sure I understand exactly what the process is, (McKay et al (1996) p. 465). (2) Developing the foundation for a collaborative working environment which would include finding a balance between the information needed to obtain the appropriate intake information and allowing me, the client, to tell my story of why I am there in the first place, (McKay et al (1996) p. 465). (3) Focus on immediate, practical concerns; this would mean that my social worker is prepared to respond to crisis situations, negotiate with other systems that may be a barrier of some kind to my treatment and be able to respond to any presenting concerns, (McKay et al (1996) p. 465). I need to feel as though my social worker is just as active in my treatment as I am and is providing all the resources and help they can give. Lastly, (4) Identify and problem- solve around barriers to help seeking, (McKay et al (1996) p. 465). It would be important for my social worker to know if I have been in therapy before what that experience was for me; whether it was negative or not. It would be easier for me to trust my therapist when they are knowledgeable of all of my obstacles; whether they are personal or environmental. For example, one thing that would be vital for my white, male therapist to...
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