WEEK 5 READING (1): Beginnings (Information gathering by helping clients…
WEEK 5 READING (1): Beginnings
Establishing that a service is required:
The practitioner must begin by clarifying the potential client's understanding of the referral, the nature of the agency and the service that can be provided.
The social worker shares with the client information that she already knows about the client's situation and discusses the services that the agency and worker can offer.
Anticipating linguistic needs:
To provide equitable access to needed services, trained interpreters are needed.
In advance of meeting a new client, the worker should know what the language needs may be and arrange for an appropriate interpreter.
It's not ideal to have a family member as the unofficial interpreter, as the client can censor the information shared or the interpreter may not accurately convey the client's intended meanings.
Interpreters must agree to maintain confidentiality with respect to the info they access.
The introduction of a third party into the interaction between the client and social worker will change the pace of the session dramatically, as all communication must be translated and some statements will require even further elaboration to be understood.
Considering safety issues:
The interview space and location should be structured to provide safety for the social worker and client.
If the worker is concerned about the potential for violence, they may wish to sit close to the office door or keep the door open.
Worker needs to pay attention to and incorporate understandings of "invisible wounds of oppression".
Take into account how structural issues of power, marginalisation and oppression operate in an individual's internal functioning, in interpersonal relationships and in the way problems are addressed.
Reactions to oppression:
When others have persistently defined an individual's problems, one can learn to be voiceless or silent and have difficulty advocating for oneself, being self-assertive or being able to define what one needs.
A sense of psychological, social or community homelessness in which one feels alienated and experiences a sense of not belonging anywhere.
Rage and an overwhelming sense of pain is another reaction to pervasive experiences of social injustice.
Societal messages about lack of worth can be internalised as self-hate towards oneself, towards others who represent aspects of self or towards both.
Effective practitioners demonstrate flexibility and recognise that activities in the beginning stage of the helping process will be revisited as the work continues.
Since client engagement is crucial for continuance with the therapeutic work, emphasise has been placed on processes that have shown to facilitate relationship building.
As these crucial activities progress, info about the client and her situation is forthcoming, leading to the practitioner and client developing an expanded joint understanding of the issues, identifying the goals that will provide a focus for the meetings, and arriving at an assessment and formulation.
This is turn leads to planning and intervention.
In this way, the principle of collaboration is put into practice early in the helping process. The two participants explore whether the client's needs and issues can be addressed by the program and the social workers role and function.
trusting working relationship
is a crucial foundation of the helping process.
The social worker aims to offer warmth and caring concern, acceptance, positive regard, respect and a nonjudgemental attitude.
These conditions improve the likelihood that a practitioner and client will forge an effective alliance based on agreements on goals and tasks and the clients sense of emotional bonding with the worker.
Relationship building and maintenance continues over each interview and throughout the therapeutic process.
Competent social workers stay attuned to overt and covert indications about the client's degree of engagement and connection, and the client's increased understanding of the issues they confront.
When ruptures occur in the working relationship, they need to be attended to directly or through some change in what the social worker offers, the way the worker interacts with the client, the methods used or the goals that are addressed.
Commitment to understanding
Working with diversity
Specific attitudes, behaviours and skills that build a relationship:
Active attending and listening
Offering support and validation
Developing an understanding of the situation
Seeking feedback from clients
Information gathering by helping clients tell their story:
From the start, the social worker should invite the client to tell his story in his own words.
Individuals can benefit simply by expressing inner concerns to another person. By talking out loud, individuals experience some sense of relief and somewhat better understanding of what is troublesome to them.
Just naming uncomfortable and distressing emotions can help people feel calm, especially when done in the context of attuned, connected and empathetic relationships.
The very process of information gathering, when done skillfully, can immediately offer the client some relief, and in so doing, fosters the positive impact of the developing working relationship.
Skills involved in gathering information:
Help clients elaborate on and explore problems by using open and closed ended questions
Clarifying and asking for more specific details
Reflecting thoughts and feelings
the way social workers identify and label knowledge that can potentially explain the practice situation and provide directions for intervention.
THE BEGINNING STAGE:
First encounters have a significant impact on the client's decision about whether to continue to seek agency services.
aim of the beginning stage
is to develop a working relationship with the client and enough shared understanding or an agreed-on assessment that some short and long term goals can be established and preliminary planning can occur.
To achieve these aims, the worker strives to provide a comfortable and welcoming environment so that the client can begin to share the important aspects of the situation that they are confronting.
The worker and client will jointly examine that situation in light of the agency's service capabilities, to determine whether this is a good enough fit to meet the client's needs.
Minimising distractions and interruptions:
To maintain focus and concentration, it is useful to aim to minimise distractions and interruptions.
Turn off your phone / don't answer / don't glance over at phone.
Provide a rationale at the start of the session to the client regarding use of electronic devices.
Being mindful of client's cultural norms:
A range of norms governs the way an individual deems it appropriate to interact with professions.
Behaviours differ depending on whether the interview is conducted in an office environment or on a home visit.
The degree of formality or informality is these initial interchanges is based on factor such as the nature of the problem, what is appropriate for the age of the client, and whether the meeting is client initiated or court ordered.
When working with children or adolescents, there may be a preference for informal discussion (eg about their hobbies etc).
In meeting an elderly client, the worker should be sensitive to their age difference and inquire whether the person prefers to be addressed by their surname etc.
Social work code of ethics require the principle of confidentiality. This means that info a client shares will be held private and not shared, and therefore workers should only share info with the client's consent.
This enables clients to develop comfort in disclosing sensitive personal material that may reflect poorly on clients or on others in their lives.
Workers need to convey their commitment to confidentially in the first meeting.
If taking notes, the worker must ensure they are stored in a secure location.
An exception to disclose confidential info is when the worker is concerned that the client presents a danger to self or others.
INITIAL STAGE: ENGAGING THE CLIENT:
Impressions are formed in the first contact that can have a lasting effect on the way the client perceives the practitioner and the service setting, and will determine whether or not the client will continue to work with the practitioner.
Establishing that a service is requested
Information gathering, by helping clients tell their story
Integrating a diversity perspective.
The practitioner works on two levels simultaneously:
1. The process -
all the ways the client and social worker interact with each other.
2. The Task -
The content and substance of the work, which in turn is related to the goals.
PREPARATORY STAGE: (Steps involved)
A welcoming agency
Creating a private space
Being mindful of clients' cultural norms
Anticipating linguistic needs
Considering safety issues
(Preparing yourself, as the social worker, is also important, reflecting on your own thoughts and feelings).