Social work skills to assist a client system drawn from a case study to experience positive change

This assignment is designed for students to build and apply social work skills to assist a client system drawn from a case study to experience positive change. The engagement and assessment strategies should incorporate micro-mezzo-macro concerns and be based on the many theories that inform your practice, including the foundational Ecological (person-in-environment) Perspective and Critical Race theories. With this case summary you will demonstrate how you integrate practice while planning engagement and assessment strategies with clients/client systems. You will need to identify a client/client system from the scenario and use the client/client system, including members of family, neighborhood, and greater community, to complete the two parts of this case summary.

Make the assessment based on this Scenario; Please do not hesitate to make reasonable assumptions to complete your understanding of practice. If you make assumptions, check yourself in the process to be sure you are not working on cultural stereotypes. Please keep in mind that you are an intern working on this case summary.

 

SCENARIO: Client Ms. Victoria Page was referred to independent living at Lower Eastside Service Center by her social worker after staying in a domestic shelter. The initial session shows that she has been trying to cope with the physical abuse since she still loves her ex-husband. The client was married for 7 years before filing for divorce. She came in with a black eye and was hysterical. However, she fears for her life. She was unprepared to move out or involve law enforcement to prevent the abuses. Instead, the findings show that she was in a support group at a local community center and did not give her actual name for fear of getting her husband in trouble. In her current session, she has explained that her only family member is her sister due to being isolated from her family by her ex-husband. Ms. V has expressed that she finds comfort from her support group and wants to maintain her participation. Client needs income and could benefit from governmental assistance such as social security (SSI). The client has two twin daughters who are 10 years old, and her sister has custody of her children. Client suffers from depression and uses alcohol as her copying mechanism. Due to her current mental state, the client lost her job working at a bank and felt hopeless. The client’s sister is who recommended client to start changing her life for the sake of her children. The client’s goal is to be able to receive help. Client wants to be able to receive income, attend AA meetings to help remain sober, build a better relationship with her daughter and be able to reconnect with her family. Client is currently residing in the Bronx NY.

 

Assignment:

Part A: Engagement and Problem Identification Within Part A please include the following:

Description of the client/client system, including the following identifying information

• Demographics

• Presenting concern (why is client/client system working with a social worker?)

• Relationship to family and family influence

• Community and community influences

• Organization/agency policies and procedures that inform practice with the client/client system

Description of the engagement process with the client/client system

• In what capacity have you come to know client/client system (community meeting, referral, case assignment, etc.)?

• What is the basis/purpose of your work with the client/client system (community organizing/advocacy, case management, colleague, counselling, etc.)?

• What biases might you have about this client? What biases might the client have of you?

• Describe, using theory to inform practice, your plan for engaging with the client/client system and outlining the ongoing work

• Provide a timeline of engagement

• Identify specific social work skills and techniques using in the engagement process (active listening, empathy, validating, etc.)

• What data have you collected in your initial work with the client/client system that suggests the quality of your engagement?

• Does the client/client system appear fully engaged in the work? If not fully engaged, what barriers may make it difficult for the client/client system to relate to you or your organizational context?

• Does the client bear, perhaps, a weariness or wariness based on experiences of structural oppression (racism, sexism, classism ageism, ableism, etc.) that would inform concerns about engagement with you or with the organization, or with both?

• Is the plan for working with client/client system formal (written as a contract) or informal (verbal)?

Part B: Assessment Students will complete the assessment portion of the assignment based on their Field role as an intern within the agency. Micro, mezzo, and macro contexts must all be analyzed in an anti-racist, integrated practice approach to assessment. To the best of your understanding, include the following information about the client/client system, from the point of view of one client within the client system:

In detail describe the sources of data that support your assessment of the client

• Describe principal sources for learning about the client/client system (interviews, case notes, direct conversations, community interactions, secondary sources, etc.)

• How directly is the client/client system involved in data collection? Is the data collection a formal or informal process?

Micro assessment Select one client from the client system to assess in completion of this assignment, using a biopsychosocial structure for the assessment.

For your biopsychosocial assessment, include the following elements in detail (please note that there may be some repetition from Part A if you are writing on an individual client):

• Client description

• Physical development, health, and basic biological health and functioning

• Cognitive/developmental functioning (Piaget)

• Psychosocial development, current psychosocial functioning (Erikson, Gilligan, Bowlby, Mahler, etc.)

• Social interaction (family, peers, colleagues, community)

• Spiritual and moral development (Kohlberg) and religious affiliations, if any

• Socioeconomic status, citizenship entitlements, etc. • Overall strengths and limitations

• Basic needs and access to resources (Maslow)

• Family description (composition, cohesion, relevant history/concerns)

• Housing (household composition, neighborhood, years in current housing, etc.)

• Education (where, when, formal level of completion, trades certificates, etc.)

• Employment (present and past experience)

• Health history (physical and mental, substance use, hospitalizations, etc.)

• Protected population (examples of diversity and potential oppression)

Mezzo assessment Identify a small group (not just a family) from the client system to assess in completion of this assignment. Including the follow to complete your mezzo assessment of the client system.

• Access and resources gained through mutual aid (Shulman)

• Social group strengths/limitations, e.g. collective.

• Spiritually- and/or morally uniting religious affiliations/development (Kohlberg) Socioeconomic status, citizenship entitlements, etc.

• Attainment of basic needs and access to resources (Maslow)

• Housing, Education, Employment connections

• Social interaction (formal and informal social climate within the local community)

• Local environment/environmental factors (quality of housing, jobs, food access, air/water, etc.)

Macro assessment Describe the client system by analyzing the following components of the client system’s community. This will require your assessment and research of the community in which the client/client system resides/engages in:

• Culture and demographics of the wider community

• Resources available in the wider community

• Social freedom and resources in the wider community

• General environment of town, municipality, etc. (quality of housing, jobs, food access, air/water, etc.)

• Civic cohesion

• Formal (access to and use of entitlements and subsidies, access to healthcare, access to affordable housing, access to quality food, etc.)

• Informal (social integration within the community (McMillan & Chavis)

• Political climate and circumstances affecting the wider community (voting rate, civic engagement opportunities.

Genogram Complete and attach a genogram to illustrate selected individual client’s position in relation to family and close friends, and a community genogram to illustrate client in relation to neighborhood and wider community. Format Requirements: The Case Summary should be 6-8 pages, including a minimum of 5 references, written in APA style. Note that references should include peer-reviewed articles and chapters that describe overarching theory (Critical Race, Ecological Perspective), particular theory (e.g. Piaget, Erikson, Bowlby, Feminist, Intersectionality, Conflict), and sociological/anthropological (e.g. that speak to the culture, norms and values of the client/client system)

Answer

Applying Social Work Skills to Empower Clients towards Positive Change

Empowering individuals to gain autonomy and control over their lives is central to social work. It requires social workers to apply skills, intervention methods, and theories to assist clients use their personal, interpersonal, and political capabilities to overcome individual challenges and improve their lives. Social workers must demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills to guide their engagement and assessment process. Through a case study, this paper aims to explore the transformative power of social work in engaging and assessing client systems to identify and address their needs.

Engagement and Problem Identification

Description of the Client System

            Ms. Victoria Page is a divorced woman who had been married for 7 years before filing for divorce. She is a mother of two twin daughters, aged 10 years who are in the custody of her sister. She is currently residing in Bronx, NY having previously sought refuge in a domestic shelter. Her presenting concerns are depression, previous physical abuse during her marriage, and alcohol dependence. Her goals are to receive help, achieve financial stability, attend AA meetings, build a better relationship with her daughters, and reconnect with her family.

Ms. Victoria has been socially isolated from her family by her ex-husband. Her closest and most influential family member is her sister who has taken custody of her daughters, and has proposed that she should make lifestyle changes for her children’s sake. Ms. Victoria has been actively participating in a support group at a local community, which provides her with comfort and support. Although this group has been supportive, she has not revealed her identity for fear of getting her ex-husband in trouble. Owing to her mental state, she also lost her job at a bank due and felt hopeless. Agency policies and procedures may encompass issues such as confidentiality and privacy, informed consent, rights of the client, service delivery, and conflict of interest. Social workers are obligated to observe policies and procedures of their agencies and organizations (Sandu & Frunză, 2018). At Lower Eastside Service Center, employees are required to put agency policies and procedures first.

Description of the Engagement with the Client System

            I came to know of the client system through a referral. The client, Ms. Victoria Page, was referred to Lower Eastside Service Center by her social worker after staying in a domestic shelter. The basis of working with the client system is case management and counselling. The purpose is to assist Ms. Victoria overcome her current problems, including past physical abuse, divorce, depression, alcohol misuse, and broken relationships.

Inherent unconscious bias is likely to occur while working with a client system (Hepworth et al., 2023). In this case study, one may have inherent unconscious biases such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, misconceptions about survivors of domestic abuse, and assumptions about individuals struggling with alcoholism. On the other hand, the client may harbor biases such as mistrust of the social worker, and skepticism about receiving help.

Based on the ecological systems theory I would use the person-in-environment concept to guide the engagement process. This approach supposes that individuals and their environment are interrelated, a concept which helps to understand the dynamics of human behavior (Segal et al., 2019). The concept acknowledges the influence of various systems such as family, friends, religion, politics, social services, and education systems on individuals. This underlines the importance of approaching the engagement process with a view of determining the fit, or lack thereof, between Ms. Victoria and her environment.

Engagement with Ms. Victoria should be an ongoing process as building a trusting relationship takes time. Meetings can be scheduled regularly until the client feels secure and willing to discuss personal matters. As trust is established, and the client regains her independence, the frequency of the meetings may be reduced.

Social workers use a set of skills and techniques such as active listening, empathy, and validation during the engagement process. Active listening helps to fully understand the client’s needs, experiences, and emotions through verbal and non-verbal communication. Empathy is an important principle that demonstrates understanding and genuine concern about how the client is feeling. Given that the client has been depressed and hysterical, acknowledging their feelings and experiences as meaningful and valid is important.

Important data collected in the initial work with the client that suggests the quality of the current engagement includes information about her emotional states, support systems, family dynamics, financial situation, and coping mechanisms. The data gives insight about her willingness to participate and cooperate towards achieving her goals and helps to identify barriers to engagement such as hesitancy to trust as a result of past experiences.

The client system does not appear to be fully engaged during the initial stages of the engagement process. She is yet to fully open up about her personal issues, probably due to the trauma from her past experiences. Barriers that may make it difficult for the client to relate with me or the organizational context include fear, trust issues, judgement, and safety concerns.

It is possible that Ms. Victoria bears weariness and wariness based on the experiences of structural oppression. For instance, if she has faced racism, sexism, or classism while trying to seek support or access social services she may be cautious while engaging with me and/or the organization. Concerns about being treated fairly during the engagement process may be prevalent. The process of contracting is both formal and informal. Initially, it is informal, simply consisting of verbal agreement about her goals and objectives. As trust builds up, it may take up the shape of a written agreement signed by both parties, detailing the goals, objectives, and proposed interventions that will ultimately lead to the desired outcomes.

Assessment

            Information about a client should come from a variety of sources to minimize informant bias and achieve a comprehensive assessment (Rapp-McCall et al., 2022). The client’s verbal report through direct conversations helps to acquire important information, including the history and description of the problem as well as the client’s feelings about it. Conducting interviews with the client is essential as it provides firsthand information about her experiences, emotions, and needs. Reviewing case notes from her previous social worker offers valuable background information concerning her past experiences. Information can also be obtained from significant people such as members of the support group at the local community center. Secondary sources of information such as reports from other agencies if available, can also be used to acquire important information concerning her physical and mental wellbeing.

The client system is directly involved in data collection throughout the assessment process. Data collection is both formal and informal. Informal data collection involves information obtained through direct conversations, whereas formal data collection incorporates information obtained through interviews and questionnaires.

Micro Assessment

            Ms. Victoria Page is a divorced woman currently residing in Bronx, NY. Prior to her divorce, she had been married for 7 years. She has twin daughters aged 10 years, who are in the custody of her sister. She is experiencing problems related to physical abuse, divorce, alcoholism, and separation from her family, but has expressed a desire to positively change her life.

At a biophysical level, it is important to understand the client’s biophysical growth and developmental influences, including her health status, and the use of medication and other substances (Maiden & Weiss, 2023). This means assessing Ms. Victoria’s physical health and functioning, her nutrition, and general health habits. Having presented herself with a black eye is an indication of physical abuse which may have resulted in other injuries or health concerns. Her abuse of alcohol may also affect her general health status. Additionally, other aspects that are considered include sleep-wake patterns, stability of weight, general appearance, and her ability to perform daily activities.

Cognitive functioning involves assessing the client to determine their level of cognitive development and information processing (Maiden & Weiss, 2023). Assessment considerations for Ms. Victoria include her ability to focus attention, complete tasks, discern reality, and use language for self-expression. Other considerations include perceptions of self and evident and intense emotions. A psychosocial development assessment involves reviewing significant past experiences across different developmental stages. Considering her past physical abuse and traumatic experiences, it would be worth assessing her emotional wellbeing and coping mechanisms. This would inform the decision concerning any new skills that would help her overcome her current situation.

Exploring the client’s social interaction entails assessing interactions with the family, the community, and social support systems. Specifically, this entails assessing the quality of Ms. Victoria’s relationship with her sister, friends, and the support group at the local community center. Assessing her spiritual and moral beliefs helps to determine how they influence her decision-making. Her religious affiliations should are assessed as they have a bearing on her support network. Reviewing her socioeconomic status, including financial stability, and citizen entitlements, such as access to social security helps to understand their psychological impact on her, and informs the development of appropriate interventions for economic empowerment. Ms. Victoria’s overall strengths are her willingness to seek help, participate in support groups, and attend AA meetings in a bid to remain sober. Her limitations include alcohol abuse, an inability to effectively deal with depression.

Her ability to access resources and meet basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and love are assessed to help her achieve personal growth and self-actualization (Hepworth et al., 2023). Her family composition, including her relationship with her daughters, sister, other family members, and the absence of a couple relationship are taken into account. Cohesion being a protective a factor against distress is important in promoting social support. Her strained relationship with her larger family is a point of concern as it has a significant influence on her emotional wellbeing. Assessing her housing situation and neighborhood characteristics is essential in addressing her safety concerns. Her level of education, and trade certificates are assessed to determine her employability. Her employment status, including present and past experiences are useful in addressing her employment needs and financial goals. A comprehensive assessment of her health history, substance use, and hospitalization helps to determine her progress and to assist her obtain resources to regain sobriety and health. Aspects of diversity such as race, gender, ethnicity, or age demand consideration as the client may have experienced discrimination based on such factors.

Mezzo Assessment

Assessment of how support group from the local community center provides mutual support and other resources to its members and how effectively they contribute to team outcomes is essential. This assessment will help to determine whether Ms. Victoria gains significant help by being a participant in that group. In addition, assessing the collective strengths and limitations of the group helps to determine how effective the group is in providing emotional support and enhancing the member’s social skills, coping strategies, and self-esteem. Assessing the group’s spiritual and moral affiliations is important as these experiences stimulate motivation and direct purpose (Maiden & Weiss, 2023). Exploring the socioeconomic statuses, and citizen entitlements of the group members helps to gain insight into how group members may think or feel about their social environment and how participating in the group may influence Ms. Victoria. The group’s ability to provide basic needs and access to resources is evaluated to determine how well members meet needs such as safety, sense of belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. The group is assessed to determine whether it has successful strategies for member inclusion in terms of housing, education, and employment. Social interactions within the group are also evaluated to determine whether group members have formal and informal social links, and whether other community members are actively engaged. The social climate within the local community should promote inclusivity, cohesion, multiculturalism, and equality. Factors within the local environment such as safe housing, clean water, employment opportunities, and access to food are assessed to determine they influence the overall wellbeing of group members.

Macro Assessment

The county of Bronx, NY where Ms. Victoria resides is multicultural, with the population consisting of Hispanic, African Americans, Asians, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and people from other races (Woods, n.d). The resources available in the community that can support individuals like Ms. Victoria include substance abuse treatment centers, domestic violence shelters, community counselling centers, and mental health facilities. The general environment of Bronx is characterize by affordable housing at a range of incomes, plenty of jobs, clean water, and the quality of air is generally acceptable. However, it has the highest rate of food insecurity in New York City. Social cohesion in the Bronx is fairly strong with community members and local agencies being involved in planning and decision-making and in community-building initiatives. Projects such as East Side House Settlement reaches out to the community through school-based programs, senior citizen programs, and community centers. The town has formal programs and support systems that assist residents to apply for benefits, subsidies, and entitlements. Through support systems such as BronxCare Health System, residents can access affordable healthcare. Similar formal programs that address barriers to accessing housing and food are available. The town has numerous support groups and community organizations that work to effectively enhance social integration by creating a sense of belonging, and fulfilling individual needs through the community. Elections are characterized by low voter turnout but opportunities for civic engagement are available.

Conclusion

Conducting an assessment of a client system is an important aspect of social work as it provides important information about a client, and the prevailing circumstances leading to an evaluation or intervention planning. It is a shared process that involves the collaborative efforts of both the client and the social worker. Attention should be given to micro, mezzo, and macro systems to fully understand the prevailing client situation. A comprehensive assessment is crucial as it provides a firm foundation for intervention planning.

Family Genogram

 

References

Hepworth, D. H., Vang, P. D., Blakey, J. M., Schwalbe, C., Evans, C. B. R., Rooney, R. H. Rooney, G. D., & Strom-Gottfried, K. (2023). Direct social work practice: theory and skills. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Maiden, R. P., & Weiss, E. L. (2023). Social work education and the grand challenges: approaches to curricula and field education. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Rapp-McCall, L., Corcoran, K., & Roberts, A. R. (2022). Social workers’ desk reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sandu, A., & Frunză, A. (2018). Ethical issues in social work practice. Hershey, PA: IGI Global Information Science Reference.

Segal, E. A., Gerdes, K. E., & Steiner S. (2019). An introduction to the profession of social work: becoming a change agent. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Woods, A. (n.d.). Living in the Bronx: Culturally diverse neighborhoods bound. Movoto.com. Retrieved July 25, 2023, from https://www.movoto.com/guide/bronx-ny/living-in-the-bronx-culturally-diverse-neighborhoods-abound/

 

 

 

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