As a result of applying appropriate theory the organisation and structure of social work practice may be enhanced (Howe 1999:104). Social workers use theory to inform practice and provide a sense of direction and guidance in their professional engagement with service users
"An alternative way of using theories to help in reflection is by using them critically against one another. Differences between theories can help in reflection in practice by enabling alternative and opposing theories to criticize practice which used a particular theory". (Payne in Adams, Dominelli & Payne (2002:2E) Social Work: Themes. Issues and Critical debates. (2002:33) .
Critical refection can be defined as, “an aware, reflective and engaged self, the term “reflexivity” implies that practitioners recognise their engagement with service users in the process of negotiating, understanding, interventions, and are aware of the assumptions and values they bring to this process” (Brechin et al 2000:208). Developing critical reflective skills is therefore an important aspect of social work.
Social work seeks growth and empowerment for the people it serves, development and social progress for the communities we work in and greater justice and equality in the societies to which we contribute (Adams et al 2002:4). These values help to guide us in using our judgement. Critical thinking helps to implement these values and methods of intervention by testing our practice against them. Moving from critical thinking towards critical action creates a practice that can help develop our social work practice. Taylor and Devine (1993:54) argue that the workers task is to select from the theories available, those that will help in understanding the situation.
The reflexive-therapeutic approach helps people to achieve personal growth, self-actualisation and personal power over their environment, which would refer to elements of crisis intervention. This model of practice involves psychosocial and counselling to explore client’s views and understanding of their problems. This may assist clients to gain insight into the complex social and psychological origins of the problem that they face and to help plan new ways of responding to the challenges in their lives (Payne, 1997:126). Individualist- reformist work involves sorting out practical situations and teaching people skills which would refer to task centred work. Therefore this essay will critically compare and contrast task centred and crisis intervention methods of social work intervention. The process of intervention and the potential and limitations of both task centred and crisis intervention approaches to social work practice will be critiqued in terms of how this has impacted upon the role of the practitioner and service user.
Ms W was the mother of two children, whose own mother has passed away and was very distressed. Initially it was tempting to see the death as the crisis, however by applying crisis intervention I gained insight into the participating events that had caused the crisis. Task-centred intervention was not appropriate for me to employ as when in a crisis, our “habitual strengths and coping mechanisms do not work”.
Crisis intervention is a theoretical method, which focuses on the opportunities for growth and positive change arising from the emotional energy generated by the experience of crisis. I found crisis intervention combined immediate emotional and practical support at onset with therapy, which is time limited to coincide with the restoration of equilibrium and the establishment of new coping skills. While the crisis was precipitated by the death of Ms W mother, and other stressful events such as moving to a new area, it is the emotional reaction that constitutes the crisis, not the situation itself. Such life events can be very stressful. Ms W moving to a new area had lost her equilibrium and was vulnerable due to loneliness and isolation. The...
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