Task Centered Approach in Social Work Essay
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The purpose for this assignment is to highlight the main features of one social worker method. Within this essay, I will include social work intervention prior to the introduction of task-centred practice. This will provide an insight in to why task-centred methods were introduced. I will also portray the strengths and weaknesses of task-centred practice. The essay will also depict the underlying theory that underpins task-centred practice in relation to social work. I will endeavour to critically analyse the effectiveness of this approach.
I will then compare this approach with crisis intervention and provide an analysis of the similarities between them. Throughout this assignment I will incorporate anti-discriminative and anti-oppressive practice (ADP, AOP) not only within the model of task-centred and crisis work but with an overall view to social work practice and how oppression can be addressed. I will strive to provide a brief policy context of AOP and ADP. Due to the word limitation I have attached an appendix of a case study based upon task-centred, person-centred and crisis intervention.
Task-centred practice is a relatively new concept, in comparison to some social work methods, emerging in the 1960s. Prior to the implementation of task-centred practice, many clients received long-term intervention. Social workers focused on feelings rather than action. Buckle, (1981) in Coulshed & Orme (1998) state that: “ some clients received help for years and compulsive care-giving by helpers often resulted in the difficulties of becoming the responsibility and ‘property’ of the worker. ” I would suggest that this form of intervention could possibly lead to ‘learned-helplessness’.
This is when the client becomes dependant on the worker and rejects the notion that they can fend for themselves. M, Payne (1997) refers to an experiment conducted by Seligman (1975). Seligman’s theory of ‘learned helplessness’ came about through experimentation of animals and humans. He discovered that people with little expectations produced little results. He states: “ their capacity to learn useful behaviour in other situations becomes impaired. People lose motivation, become anxious and depressed and poor at thinking.
The concept of task-centred practice originated in the USA by Reid and Shyne (1969). Task-centred intervention came about through psychodynamic theories and the response opposed to them, as this method was time consuming, which may lead to dependency. I would therefore, suspect that the introduction of task-centred intervention would have been welcome one. Like crisis intervention, task-centred can be perceived as predictable and planned. Task-centred work was initially applied to group and family casework. In the early 1990s, Marsh and Doel wrote further on this subject.
This intervention was further developed within social work practice. Task-centred models can be utilized in conjunction with a variety of settings such as counselling and education (Stepney and Ford (2000). Couldshed and Orme (1998, pg 115) state ‘ task-centred practice, also known as brief therapy, short-term or contract work has had a significant impact on both social work practice and the organisation of services’. The fact that this method has been updated, by continues research provides evidence of its use in Social Work.
Stepney and Ford (1998, pg 52) argue how it ‘not only derives from research, but lends itself to research, insofar as it embodies the setting of goals whose achievement is easily measured. Consequently, the model has been developed and refined through numerous empirical studies in the past thirty years’. This type of research evidence provides social workers with a sound base and model of intervention, which is long standing and appropriate to use with most client groups. M. Payne (1997) explains that: “ task-centred work claims to be primarily a model, drawing on learning and cognitive ‘ theories’ validates its effectiveness.
He suggests that this enables the social worker to understand the importance of task-centred work, as it provides us with an insight into human behaviour. He states that the task centred model is “ a basis for learning about the world and being accepted within it. ” The basics of this method focus on problem-solving and short-term application. As Ford and Postle (1998, pg 52) suggest ‘The approach is designed to help in the resolution of difficulties that people experience in interacting with their social situations, where internal feelings of discomfort are associated with events in the external world’.
This statement may confirm that task-centred can be applied in most settings or interactions with any clients. Although some research evidence suggests it should only be used specifically in the following problem solving areas: ·Conflict within families or work related situations ·Young adults find themselves alone or away from home ·Problems with dealing with organisations ·Dealing with new roles, becoming a parent, new relationships ·Problems moving from one role or situation to another ·Illness or bereavement ·Unable to access material resources ·Behavioural problems
Reid cited in Ford and Postle, (2000) As a social worker dealing with any of the above situations, I would suggest that it is not the duty of the social worker to take responsibility for the clients’ problems. The problem must be recognised by the client in order for the social worker to work in collaboration with him/her Coulshed & Orme (1998). However, since being placed at a statutory organisation, for my 80-day-placement, working with children and families, I am now aware that in some circumstances, I have a statutory duty to investigate i. e. section 47 of the Children Act 1989, implemented in 1990.
CHECK M. Payne (1997) states that “ task-centred work is concerned with problems that: ·Clients acknowledge or accept; ·Can be resolved through actions taken outside contacts with workers; ·Can be defined clearly; ·Come from things that clients want to change in their lives; ·Come from ‘unsatisfied wants’ of the client rather than being defined from outsiders” However, in some circumstances, the client may be reluctant to participate. This may be due to court proceedings, in which the client has little choice, but to adhere to the conditions of the court, or face prosecution.
Under these circumstances, the client may accept the situation but may be reluctant to acknowledge or participate in the process, M. Payne (1997). If this situation arises then a task-centred approach may be futile and another approach such as person-centred may be more appropriate (Dole & Marsh 1992). A client may also appear reluctant to participate due to their preconceptions and ideologies about social workers. We would also have to take into consideration the individual attitude of the social worker. If the social worker appears abrupt, defensive or portrays signs of power then the client may also be reluctant.
Social workers also need to be aware of their own feelings and underlying prejudices and values before attempting to explore the interpersonal skills involved in building up client worker relationships. Reid (1992) suggests that: “ only acknowledged problems offer necessary degree of partnership. ” The basic structure of the intervention according to Coulshed and Orme (1998) is:
·Problem exploration involving clarification of issues and focusing on the most pressing ·Agreement between the client and SW as to the most pressing problem, which the SW then categorises by using the above list. Formulating an objective – classification of the problem by using the above list, which both parties will discuss and agree upon ·Termination – this is achieved by discussion from the onset of the intervention and clarification of the process throughout, such as time limitation and reflection on the success or failure of the approach by the social worker and client I would suggest that this method provides a framework of intervention. However, this does not provide the social worker with any description of how a task is to be achieved.
Task-centred intervention provides a structure to problem solving. However, there is little consideration of the clients’ ability to promote change and to achieve their or the social workers perceived goals. For example if we take a person suffering with mental health issues, they may not have the cognitive ability to be a willing participant. In order to assist in the process of addressing a problem, realistic goals have to be set between the social worker and the client, in order that the client is not set up to fail.
Reid (1978) states that: “the client’s acceptance of the final problem statement leads to a contract that will guide subsequent work. Both practitioner and client agree to work toward solution of the problem(s) as formulated. ” Therefore, if a young person has been shoplifting and a contract has been drawn up and agreed upon by both parties and the contract states that, the person has agreed not to offend during a set period; I would suggest that the social worker has not taken a holistic approach to the contract. As a social worker I believe that we have to look at why the young person shoplifted in the first instance.
This young person may have cultural influences and social implications like poverty or interacting within a peer group in order to fit in. This is why although there is a solid structure to this method it is still reliant on an approach, which has to include PCS analyse. It should also be noted that the abilities of the social worker to gain accurate information is a crucial factor in dealing with any client. In order to gain information-counselling skills may be applied. Carl Rogers (1951) laid great emphasis on the personal qualities of the counsellor (genuineness, ability to empathise, attitude to the ‘ client).
Rogers advocates a non-judgemental approach which focuses on personal growth therefore training in other interventions and skills are necessary. As Coulshed and Orme (1998) states: “the skills required of the workers included an ability to listen and grasp what the client was truly bothered about. to have the ability to renegotiate the contract or agreement. to act as an empowering partner, not just a service provider. to be explicit about time limits and to remind there client about ending the contract”. Although this appears lengthy, it does provide us with the basic skills needed while applying the task-centred method.
This is why it is a fundamental element is to clarify the problem and work together in order to come to a realistic agreement before attempting the next stage in the process. Adam et al (2002, pg 193) argues Above all, it should be sensitive to the service user’s ‘world’- the context in which the work occurs and the relative power of the participants’. Again, this is providing us with the understanding of our role within this approach to empower clients with the ability to change through intervention or the ability to dis-empower them through our actions. Most agency policies will promote short-term intervention.
This may be due to the short-term intervention strategies within the structure of task-centred practice, allowing more service users to access services. However, it could also be construed as cost effectiveness, due to the minimal amount of intervention. Minimal intervention with quality outcomes could enhance an agencies ability to be funded successfully. Adam et al argues ‘the real extent to which “clients” gain control through task-centred approaches remains a matter of controversy… financial constraints, policy imperatives and the practitioner’s value base as setting boundaries which pre-empt the possibilities of real power-sharing’.
I would suggest that this could be appropriate in any intervention, the task-centred model should allow for such dialogue around power to take place throughout the process. In relation to power, the social worker should have an awareness of self-knowledge and an understanding of social systems. They should also have an understanding of social groups and cultures and how we are to challenge such oppression on a personal, cultural or structural level (N, Thompson 2000). Everitt (1992) suggests that in order to combat oppression social workers need to have a ‘research mind’ and to use action in their commitment to change society for the good.
Everitt (1992) established a theory based on a six-point framework in relation to anti-oppressive practice. His theory is based on the awareness of self-knowledge and the understanding of social systems, an understanding of social groups and cultures and how we are to challenge such oppression on either a personal or a structural level. It is clear that social workers need to have a ‘research mind’ Everitt (1992) and to use action in their commitment to change society for the good. The use of these six points help social workers to develop a clear understanding of power and oppression for them to develop an anti-oppressive practice.
The use of these six points help social workers to develop a clear understanding of power and oppression for them to develop anti-oppressive practice. In 1989 CCETSW introduced Paper 30, which focuses on ADP, ARP and AOP practice. ADP focuses on all minority groups within our society; below I have provided a brief description of discrimination; some of which was extracted from the Encarta Encyclopaedia CD Rom (2000) ‘Discrimination relates to a set of behaviours towards individuals or groups that in any situation in which a group or individual is treated unfavourably based on prejudice.
This is usually against their membership of a socially distinct group or category. Such categories include ‘ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, age, and disability. ’ Discriminatory behaviours could be linked to underlying attitudes or the product of social influences. An example of this would be active and hostile attacks on individuals or groups. This discrimination may be religion, such as that shown by Protestants against Roman Catholics and vice versa, or Muslims against Jews and, again, vice versa.
It may also be racial, as in the apartheid policy that was enforced in South Africa from 1948 to 1992; or it may be sexual, as in many countries where women have few rights. Behaviour that is not perceived, as normal will be oppressed within society and that abnormal behaviour will be restricted. I would suggest that in order to be professional we do not have to condone the behaviours of others, we have to offer empathy, and respect the persons culture, sexuality, religion ect. However, Jordan (1991) suggests that respect for a person could fail to recognise the diversity of the British multicultural society.
He suggests that if we treat a black person as individuals with the same ‘rights’ we would be failing to recognise the persons cultural needs and may be see to be ‘ colour blind (Jordan 1991). Modern day Social Work has recognise the ‘colour blind effect’ and with the introduction of ARP and ADP strives to reduce discrimination regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, disability etc. As Social Workers, we have to work within a legal framework and by doing so may assist us in preventing discrimination.
An example of this is the Race Relations Act 1976. The polices within the Act could be perceived as a contract between the Social Worker and the State. As qualified Social Worker, working within a statutory organisation, they would have to agree and adhere to the policies and procedures. This could be defined as task-centred practice, by working and agreeing with the terms and conditions set out by the organisation. I would suggest that a good social worker would have the skills involved to continuously integrate ADP and AOP within their practice.
I would also consider that task-centred intervention may be linked to crisis intervention and depending on the client, social worker and circumstances, that crisis intervention may be deemed more appropriate than task-centred work. The term ‘crisis’ is described in Coulshed & Orme (1998) as: “either a threat, loss or a challenge. ” Crisis intervention originated within the field of mental health by Caplan (1965) and was further researched by Roberts (1990). Crisis intervention applied theoretical perspectives based on ego psychology and the psychodynamic theory.
Caplan worked on the notion of preventive psychiatry. Caplan constructed a three-stage plan of intervention which Chui and Ford (2000), refer to in Stepney, P & Ford D (2000) they state that: ‘they are Caplan’s three phases of crisis and Roberts’ seven stages of working through crisis…both appear to see crisis as having a structure which can be broken down into specific …stages of intervention’.
Both Caplan and Roberts’ theories offer a framework for intervention. pg 45) I would suggest that a crisis can only be erceived as a crisis to the individual; what is necessarily seen, as a crisis to one person may not be a crisis to another. Chui, W & Ford, D (2000) Crisis Intervention as Common Practice cited in: – Stepney, P & Ford D (2000) state that: ‘different people may think of a crisis in many different ways and the cornerstone in understanding the nature and impact of a crisis situation depends largely on the feelings, perceptions and responses of an individual…practitioners thus need to be open minded and sensitive in order to understand the immediate concerns and worries of those involved’.
I would suggest the application of crisis intervention often involves the skills required within the person-centred model. The relationship between the social worker and client needs to be a two way process. Crisis intervention is based on the assumption of short-term intervention. This process would normally take about six sessions, however this can be re-evaluated during the period of resolution. Whilst, evaluating task-centred and crisis intervention I would suggest that there is a strong correlation between both theories. Epstien (1992:102) cited M.
Payne (1997) states that he: “ treats both examples of a range of brief treatment methods. ” Gray (1987) in M. Pyane (1997) also suggests a link between task-centred and client centred intervention. He points out that both methods are structured and contracts between client workers are used. This can be seen in the examples provided throughout this essay. I can recognise the correlation between both methods. However, I would suggest that crisis intervention focuses upon the emotional responses and assist the client to move on, enabling them to deal with future crisis, which may arise.
Task-centred work focuses on practical tasks in order to resolve problems. However, I believe that regardless of the chosen method of intervention the individual social worker has to have to appropriate interpersonal skills in order to deal with each individual and every situation which may arise. O’Hagan K, (1986) states that: ‘It is the social worker, him or herself, their personal qualities, their self-training, experience, knowledge, skill, integrity, motivation, and above all else, their level of self-awareness as to their impact on the crisis and vice-versa’.
This statement provides us with than insight into the multi-skills needed to promote task-centred practice and crisis intervention. Without these skills, it is unlikely that a favourable outcome will be achieved. The ‘self-training’, stated above is slightly worrying, does it imply the training received during social work courses are insufficient or that the qualities needed by the worker are gained over time once qualified.
In the end we take our skills and go it alone, this is worrying in the sense that training has to reflect a number of interventions The task-centred model is a short-term, problem-solving approach to social work practice. It was developed by William Reid and Laura Epstein in 1969 and appeared as a response to the criticism that long-term casework was time-consuming and it wasn’t very successful in a significant percentage of clients.
It is a way of working with people that highlight partnership and the clients’ participation in decisions that affect them. Task-centred work is one of the few models of social work that encourages clients to decide what they wish to improve or change, rather than having to work on problems that the practitioner considers most important. It also emphasise the client’s motivation, responsibility and the improving of problem-solving capacity.