Case study

profileSalman Wahid

Engaging with individuals and families

SWK 313 Module 2

Week 3

Part 1


This week

Introduce the concept of a practice framework

Review some examples of practice frameworks

Begin to look at the main ways of understanding practice theory

An overview and critical analysis of some practice theories:

Psychodynamic Approaches

Task Centered Practice

Crisis Intervention

Cognitive Behavioral Practice

Humanistic practice, Existentialism & Spirituality


Module 2: Online Learning Activity

Review the theories explored in Module 2

Review the range of theories explored in Module 2. Choose one (from Payne’s book) that appeals to you, reflecting on the factors that have shaped your choice and including a critical analysis of the theory.


Why Practice Frameworks?

A practice framework is a conceptual map that brings together and approach to practice.

A comprehensive understanding of social work theories, how they are linked and how they apply in different practice settings can really help guide your work with individuals and families

This helps to ensure your practice is well informed and well intentioned

Connolly, M. (2007). Practice frameworks: Conceptual maps to guide interventions in child welfare. British Journal of Social Work, 37(5), 825-837.


An Integrated Framework…

Anti-Oppressive practice


Organisational context


Phases of helping

Maidment, J., & Egan, R. (2009). Practice skills in social work and welfare: More than just common sense. Allen & Unwin.


Sample Practice Framework: Agency

Sample Personal Practice Framework:


A practice framework…

Changes over time

Responds to context

Adjusted according to critical reflection, professional development, practice wisdom, personal growth, learning from clients…

Tries to remain true to professional values and ethics:

Respect for persons

Social justice

Professional integrity


Types of Social Work Theory from Payne (2014)

Types of Theory Formal Theory Informal Theory
What social work is Formal written accounts defining the nature and purposes of welfare (e.g. personal pathology; liberal reform; feminist) Moral, political and cultural values drawn upon by practitioners for defining the ‘function’ of social work.
How to do social work Formal written theories of practice (e.g. casework; family therapy; group work), applied deductively Theories inductively derived from particular situations; unwritten practice theories from experience
The client world Formal written social science theories; empirical data (e.g. family, class, race) Practitioner’s use of experience and general cultural meanings (e.g. ‘normal’ behaviour)


Types of practice theory Payne (2014) pp. 8-10

Perspectives – e.g. feminist, humanistic

General guiding principles rather than precise rules

Allows for flexibility and respects diversity in different situations


Frameworks – e.g. Systems Theory

Organise bodies of knowledge in a systematic way

More concrete, less value-based than perspectives

Identify a range of methods to choose from and may guide that decision

Models – e.g. Task centred approach

Clear sequence of actions to follow in a given situation

Structured, consistent approach

Descriptive rather than explanatory

Explanatory theory – e.g. CBT

Based on causal explanations of human behaviour, evidence based

Accounts for why an action leads to a particular outcome

From Payne, M. (2014). Modern social work theory. Palgrave Macmillan.


Using theory to plan intervention…

Payne, M. (2014). Modern social work theory. Palgrave Macmillan.


Three Views of Social Work Objectives


Empowerment views…

Therapeutic helping approaches (Dominelli 2009)

Promote wellbeing through growth and self-fulfilment

Workers help clients gain power over their feelings and way of life to overcome suffering & disadvantage

Develop skills and personal relationships

Social-democractic political philosophy – economic and social development needed for individual and social improvement


Social change views…

Structural focus – understanding and challenging power

Seek to free people from oppression and create more egalitarian relationships in society

Change social institutions

Disadvantaged and oppressed people will never gain personal or social empowerment unless society changes

Socialist political philosophy – planned economies and social provision promote equality and social justice

E.g. Anti-Discriminatory Practice, critical theory, feminist theories


Problem-solving views…

Social work as welfare service – needs and support

Help individuals to adjust to society

Focus on individuals – choice, responsibility, consequences

Liberal or neo-liberal political philosophy – personal freedom in economic markets


Some critical analysis:

Empowerment Social Change Problem-solving
Does not fully address structural barriers Interests of elites is still a barrier to opportunity for oppressed peoples Social change is unrealistic for everyday practice Does not help people in immediate need Scope for achieving large scale change can be limited funding, governance considerations, agency objectives Accepts the social order – supports interests of elites Helps individuals, but does not help future groups/society more broadly
Humanistic, feminist theories, macro practice/community development, strengths-based practice, humanistic approaches, empowerment Anti-Discriminatory Practice, critical theory, feminist theories Psychodynamic approaches, problem-solving, crisis intervention, task-centred practice, CBT


Common ground…

5 common values and principles across social work theories (Payne 2014 p.25)…

Alliance – informed consent, relationship, therapeutic alliance, dialogic relationship

Aims – clearly specified and positive outcomes

Action sequences – specified sequences of actions

Critical practice – disruption, critique of current social assumptions

Rights – human rights, cultural respect, equality, sustainability