Case study

profileSalman Wahid
SWK313Module3Week6StrengthsBasedPractice2019.ppt

SWK313 Engaging with Individuals and Families

Module 3: Week 6

Strengths-Based Practice

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Module 3: Online Learning Activity

Reflection on the first interview: the client's perspective

  • Listen to the recording of Erica's reflections on the first meeting with the worker at the community centre.
  • Drawing on the information provided in the recording, critically examine how Anti-Oppressive Practice and Strengths Based Practice could inform your understanding of Erica's situation and your approach to working with this client and her family. 

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Strengths Based Practice

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Shifting to a Strengths Perspective

  • “The emphasis shifts from problems and deficits defined by the worker, to possibilities and strengths defined in egalitarian, collaborative relationships with clients.”

(Blundo 2001 p.302)

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Foundations

  • Incorporates social and psychological perspectives
  • Emerged in 1990s
  • Generated by social work
  • Radical social work – need to recognise political implications of social work and not pathologise
  • Erving Goffman – work on labelling and stigma
  • Psychological Resilience theory – people can benefit from difficult life events. People are highly resilient.
  • Rogerian humanistic approaches – unconditional positive regard
  • Gregory Bateson (1972) – emphasis on mutuality, on the “now”, and on seeing the ‘problem’ as not contained in the person but systemic (social system is important)
  • Empowerment and anti-oppressive practice – solutions as a mutual learning process based on partnership

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Maidment & Egan (2016) p.29

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Problem-focused Solution-focused
Asks what is wrong and why Asks what the client wants to change and how
Explores historical causes and present difficulties in order to find a remedy Opens space for future possibilities through a focus on exceptions and resources
Searches for underlying issues – the “real” problem Invites client to clarify main issues and priorities
Elaborates on emotional experience of client Continuously channels client affect towards goals or desired actions
Assumes client is deficient, resistant, misguided or naïve Assumes client is competent, resilient and resourceful
Labels, categorises clients in problem-saturated ways Views clients as unique and maintains a positive view of curiosity

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5 Practice Principles

Adopt an optimistic attitude

Focus on service user’s assets

Collaborate with the service user

Work towards long term empowerment of service user

Create community

(Healy 2005, pp. 158- 165)

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  • Question pathological & deficit-orientated views of users
  • Challenge negative labels - we must be careful in the language we use
  • Seek out evidence and source of strengths (think broadly – personal, family, community, cultural)
  • Separate person from problem and convey respect for their resilience (e.g. a survivor)
  • Constantly convey belief that people have the capacities to deal with their immediate problems & achieve a better quality of life
  • When listening, we must be constantly on the look for capacity, capability & resourcefulness (not just ‘positives’)
  • We cannot ignore negative diagnoses & past behaviours – cannot gloss over them however it is important as to how such ‘labels’ are applied.
  • Compare expert-centric & collaborative ways of interviewing & interacting
  • Partnership is the first necessary stage for empowerment
  • De-mystify professional procedures – share knowledge
  • Encourage the service user to explore ALL possible solutions – how they see it
  • Maximise control and decision making in the hands of the person
  • Emphasis should always be on possibilities rather than past problems
  • Affirming a person’s resilience and enabling capacities – including those forged in adversity
  • Try to gain early initial practical outcomes consistent with longer term hopes and dreams
  • Always recognise positives in the person’s social networks
  • Social networks can be a way of linking users into wider community networks
  • Green and Haines (2002) have developed a community development, strengths approach – focussing on assets
  • Good community work practice – seek to build change through members in the community – not from outside
  • Use existing capacities and assets etc.

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Benefits…

  • A positive framework for understanding the personal, community and systemic strengths operating in any situation
  • Uncovering strengths and framing them in an accessible and useful way
  • Recognises a place for & the power of optimism in achieving change
  • Allows us to see how our language, our behaviours and our orientations can disempower people very easily
  • Challenges bio-medical and legal discourses
  • Can be used to emphasise social not individual causes of personal problems

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Critique

  • Positive thinking is simplistic
  • Individualistic
  • Ignores realities
  • Inconsistent with core components of statutory contexts of practice.
  • In some situations, emphasising strengths is both unviable & may exacerbate user’s vulnerabilities
  • The partnership ideal disguises the real power differentials between social workers & service users
  • Not clear about definition of a strength

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Brief Solution Focused Therapy

  • 1970s – work of de Shazer & Berg
  • Focused on solutions rather than problems
  • Assumes clients have some knowledge of what would make their life better and the skills needed to create solutions
  • Directed conversation to help client clarify and develop solutions

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Brief Solution Focused Therapy

  • Look for previous solutions
  • Are there times when this has been less of a problem?
  • What did you do (or others) do that was helpful?
  • Look for exceptions
  • What is different about the times when this is less of a problem?
  • Use present & future-focused questions
  • What will you be doing next week that would indicate you are making progress?
  • Validate and appreciate
  • How did you do that?
  • Invitation to do more of what is working
  • Scaling questions
  • What makes it a 4 instead of a 3?
  • Coping questions
  • How have you managed to carry on?

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https://solutionfocused.net/what-is-solution-focused-therapy/

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Brief Solution Focused Therapy

  • Miracle question: generates the first steps of the solution to describe small, realistic steps they can take straight away

“After we talk and you go home and you have lots of work to do for the rest of today. It is time to go to bed and everyone in your house are asleep and in the middle of the night there is a miracle and the problem you came here to talk about is solved. When you wake up, what would be the first small sign that will make you wonder a miracle has occurred and the problem is gone? How would you discover this?”

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Narrative Therapy

  • 1990s – work of Epston & White
  • Encourages people to rely on their own skills and minimize problems
  • Everyone has stories about themselves that determine how they view themselves, their situation and their world
  • Personal experiences are transformed into stories that give meaning and shape a person’s identity
  • Use the power of personal stories to change the effect of the problem
  • Stories can be used to re-create meanings and bring change
  • Problem-saturated stories are referred to as thin descriptions
  • Mustn't exclude personal responsibility and agency

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Narrative Therapy

  • Engagement (rapport) & assessment (picture of the problem)
  • Externalise and name the problem – find a name for the problem in the client’s own language (metaphors can be used)
  • Personify the problem – attribute the oppressive intentions of the problem to the personification, not the client (requires a shift in use of language to achieve a non-blaming approach)
  • Investigate the problem and its consequences – examine the influence of the problem on the client and look for possibilities for change
  • Re-authoring - Uncover and build points of difference (identify contradictions e.g. times they have successfully overcome the problem, felt problem-free)
  • Write an alternative story (rich description) – reduce the power of the problem, use historical evidence to highlight success, skills, strengths that are adaptable from other areas of the client’s life
  • Consolidate the rich description – use connections and layers with other stories, create an audience for new identities and stories

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Summary for practice…

  • Reframing
  • Scaling questions
  • Coping questions
  • Exception questions
  • Externalising
  • Re-authoring
  • Miracle questions

See Maidment & Egan (2016) pp 31-34

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An Integrated Framework

  • How might these approaches fit together?
  • What is the common ground?

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