Definition, Characteristics, Elements, Principles & Process of Social Case Work

Definition, Characteristics, Elements, Principles & Process of Social Case Work

Social casework is a primary method of social work. It is concerned with the adjustment & development of individuals towards more satisfying relations in different situation. It follows a systematic approach to study & diagnose the client’s problem.

Social Casework has been defined by different social scientist from different aspects. Such as
1. According to Warner Boehm
“Social casework is method of social work which intervenes in the psycho–social aspects of a person’s life
                      to improve
                      to restore
                      to maintain
                      to enhance
his social functioning by improving his role performance.”
2. According to Safrad
“Social case work is a method employed by a social worker
                      to help individual
                     to find a solution 
of their problem of social adjustment which they are enable to handle in a satisfactory way by their own efforts.”
3. Mary Richmond says that “Social casework may be defined as the art of doing different thing with different people co-operating with them to achieve some of their own and society’s betterment.”

There are some objectives of social casework. These are as follow-
1.     To make good rapport with the common people.
1.       To find out and understand and solve the internal    Problem of the individuals.
2.       To strengthen one’s ego power.
3.       To prevent problem.
4.       To develop internal resources.

1.       In social casework relationship contains elements         of acceptance, expectation, support and stimulation.
2.       Client’s and caseworker are independent
3.       Casework relationship may have several therapeutic values.
4.       It is improvement of condition.
5.       It is development of personality.
6.       It is capacity building.
7.       It is more adjustment within the society.
8.       In social casework, relationship needs outside help.

About the elements of social casework, Helen Harris Perlman says that,
“A person with a problem comes to a place where a professional representative helps him by a given process”
It is known as the 5P’s theory. According to this definition, there are five elements of social casework. These are –
1.     Person
2.     Problem
3.     Place
4.     Professional representative
5.     Process

Any individual is not a person in social casework practice. The person is a man, women, child or anyone with social-psychological and economical problems who finds or needs some help and assistance in his social living. This person is known as a client. When a person fail or can not cope with his problems through his own effort and seeks social workers help is consider as a client.

Problem is a situation which arises from man’s surrounding obstacle and has attacked the adequacy of  his efforts to work effectively. According to Hussain & Alauddin – “Problem in social casework means a stressful situation which has threatened or disturbed the normal functioning of the client”

Problem may be of two conditions. Such as
1. Intra-personal problem: Intra-personal problem is the situation which affects only one man and impact of the situation is being felt by only one particular man
2. Inter-personal problem: Inter-personal problem is the situation which affects two or more than individuals or a group
Problem of person can be social, psychological, physical, economical etc. Such problems of the client originate from following sources
             1. Economic dislocation.
             2. Social dislocation.
             3. Economic male adjustment.
             4. Social male adjustment.
             5. Inter-personal conflict.
             6. Intra-familiar conflict.
             7. Personality disturbance.

Place refers to the agency through which the professional caseworker helps the client in his social functioning. According to Hussain & Alauddin – “A social caseworker agency is an organized institution which renders services materials or non- materials for the solution of their problems.”

The agency is formed into two
1.Public agency: public agency refers to those agency which is run by the state help.
2.Private agency: Private agency refers to those agency which is run by the voluntary contribution and aid from the state.
According to Perlman, there are three main factors that determine the classification of the agency. These ares-
1.   There source of support.
2.   There source of professional authority.
3.   There special function & area of concern.

Professional representative means social caseworker. A caseworker should be skillful in establishing relationship with the clients and find out the clients problem and solution. According to Hussain & Alauddin- “By social case worker is meant a professional person employed by a social agency who possess knowledge, skills & techniques of social casework”
Social caseworker has the obligation towards
                his profession
                his agency
                his client
                his own self
The caseworker’s designation varies with the working place. Such as- medical caseworker, psychiatric caseworker etc.

Process means a series of action. But in the social     casework practice, process refers to a series of action which are taken with a view to helping the clients and to solve the problems. But this doesn’t mean that, all the problems of the clients can be solved by the case worker. A caseworker selects the problem solving process by observing the clients motion, emotion, desires and abilities. If he can not find out or select the problem solving process for the client, hen he can refers him to others. In problem solving process, there are five phases

1.     Psycho-social study
2.     Diagnosis
3.     Treatment plan
4.     Evaluation

5.     Follow-up

Every agency has some rules & regulation. The fundamental rules which guide the caseworker in his action are called the principles of social casework. These principles are classified into two-
Differential principles: The differential principle refers to those principles which help the caseworker to diagnose case in different condition.
Generic principles: The generic principle refers to those principles which can be applied in all conditions of casework practice. The generic principles are classified into seven. These ares-

1.    Principle of acceptance: Acceptance means consent to receive. Under this principle-  a caseworker must be accept an individual as a person of worth & dignity not treat as a problem person and always accept one’s positive & negative feelings. When the client meets with the caseworker for the first time, he feels fear & anxieties about the new person. For this reason, the caseworker should accept client friendly. So that he can share his all problems. This mutual acceptance is called rapport. In the flow chart this rapport is-
2.    Principle of communication: Communication means exchange of information. But in social casework practice, it is the exchange of views & ideas, feelings & thoughts regarding the problems between client & social worker. By the communication, a caseworker can realize & explain the client’s present situation. Communication takes place in two ways-
1.   Through word discussion relating the problem.
2.   Through feelings & expression.
The principle of communication in casework practice calls for clarification & reclarification of the conditions under which two people engage in a professional rapport.
3.    Principle of participation: Participation means to take part. In social casework practice, the caseworker & the client build up a rapport for the solution of client’s problem. But this rapport depends on the active participation of the client. By the active participation of the client, a caseworker can
        find out the effective solution of the problem.
        assess the client’s strength & weakness.
        increase the client’s confidence
The primary goal of problem solving process also can possible through the active participation of the client. It increases client’s self determination, capacity of decision making regarding the different elements of the stressful situation.
4.     Principle of self determination:The principle of self determination provides the right of freedom of the client in making his choice & decision in the problem solving process with the help of case worker. But this right is not limitless. It is limited by client’s capacity to make decision
by the law
by the moral code of conduct
by the agency.
Under this principle, a caseworker-
help the client to see the problem clearly.
help the client to activate own dormant resources.
create a favorable environment in which the client feels     free.
not manipulate any decision directly.
not urge the client to accept his decision.
5.    Principle of confidentiality: Confidentiality means law of keeping secret. In social case work practice, confidentiality is-
   the preservation of secret information concerning the client.
    the basic right of the client.
    the ethical obligation of the client.
    necessary for effective casework practice.
Under this principle, a caseworker tries to get information about the client to understand the problem in depth. But the client is a direct source of information and he want to remain protected in generally. So that other person cannot know about his personal details. For this a caseworker should reserve & preserve the client’s information.

6.     Principle of individualization: Individualization means analyze an individual not from a single aspect but from various aspects. According to W.A.Friedlander- “Individualization is the recognition & understanding of each clients unique qualities & the differential use of principles & methods in assisting each towards a better adjustment”

Under this principle, a caseworker-
    free from bias & prejudice.
    keep knowledge of human behavior.
    keep ability to listen & observe.
    keep ability to move at the clients pace.
    keep ability to enter the feelings of the client.

Essentials of individualization are-
    Preparation of interview.
    Privacy of interview.
    encouraging the client.
    Language & Flexibility.
7.    Principle of self awareness: The principle of self awareness requires that the caseworker should be aware of his own self, his strength & weakness. It is important
   to know oneself
   to assess one’s strength & weakness.
   to understand the feelings of others.

A caseworker must be self aware. Without the knowledge of his own prejudices, his own pet hates, his biases he may easily distort his picture on the client’s personality. This ability is weakened if the caseworker is influenced by emotions, prejudices, bias & sensitivity.


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