Nov 20, 2019 in Analysis

The strengths perspective is a philosophy model that is based on the ideology that people generally have much positive energy that they need help to identify and exploit. The model, thus, has many principles and elements that enable the social worker to help with identifying such strengths and using them to create positive change that is aimed at making the client’s life better. Current paper considers the strengths perspective regarding the Children’s Division and proves that children who have experienced abuse or neglect often need their parents more than it may seem. Despite the bad circumstances at home, such children need to feel loved and wanted. The best way to ensure it is often to help the family as a whole to handle their underlying issues by outlining their strengths. The idea here is to provide the child with a good home, healthy relationships and a bright future. Therefore, with the client, as the main decision maker, it is easier to establish the importance of changing the situation at home instead of being involved into the foster care system. It can be stated that such perspective allows the social worker to assess the needs of the client, instead of applying some generic knowledge and making decisions that will fail to help the clients based on the uniqueness of their circumstances and critical factors.       

The strengths perspective is a philosophy model that is based on the ideology that people generally have much positive energy that they need help to identify and exploit. The role of the social worker within such setting is, thus, to identify, nurture and protect the group’s untapped talents and potentials for a positive change depending on what the problem is. For current paper, the chosen organization is the Children’s Division, which constitutes mainly of children who have suffered abuse, neglect or abandonment among other things. They usually have problems with self-esteem issues stemming from their bad family circumstances that may, in the end, lead to negative results if not treated properly. Current paper discusses the strengths perspective theory in relation to the Children’s Division with the aim of establishing how the theory is applicable and how it can help the organization handle children and their families more effectively.     

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Key Elements of the Strengths Perspective

Like any other theory, the strengths perspective has a number of basic elements that it uses for operation. The elements here are mostly basic factors that one must consider when embracing the perspective in a social work setting. Such elements especially help the social worker develop and use the perspective when dealing with a given group of clients. They include language, strengths, resilience, the critical factors applicable to that specific client, community, as well as health and wellness issues among others. 

Within such perspective, the most important factor is how the social worker is able to communicate with the clients. In other words, a social worker is able to destroy or build the client’s sense of self-worth and, thus, his language becomes a key element when using the strengths perspective to help people. It, thus, requires the use of right words to inspire the group to capitalize on their strengths and potentials. Such strategy helps build hope and resilience among people, that will assist them overcome all the challenges regardless of how severe the may be.

Strengths here describe the resources that can be found within an individual or organization. Such strengths could be formed from a traumatic experience or a very severe struggle in life and as a social worker, one must be able to inspire the client to embrace that strength and use it to recover from the difficulty. The idea here is to use one’s talents and abilities and construct a way forward in order to ensure that the pains of the past will not be experienced in the future, as well. Appreciating that the individual or group has strengths will enable the social worker to believe in them, giving them space for independence so that they could work on their issues with a positive outlook.   

Resilience, in its turn, means having the right strengths and abilities that allow the client to overcome the problems. Critics of the strengths perspective often mistake resilience to imply denial of one’s circumstances. Therefore, in reality, it deals with developing oneself in such a way that problems are only seen as obstacles, which have to removed. In addition, resilience foresees learning from one’s pains and using the collective knowledge as more challenges and problems occur. The idea of the therapy is to use the experiences that the client receives from the past in order to deal with other bad experiences. Such procedure is sometimes considered as building a wall that makes the clients unavailable to problems. But in reality, resilience is a bridge that enables them to cross different life problems. 

Critical factors vary from client to client, affecting their response or recovery procedure after traumatic occurrences. The importance of such critical factors is that they enable the social worker to understand what the client may be going through. The challenge here is often that some of such critical factors may seem very trivial and even remain unacknowledged by the client. Some main factors that a social worker must consider when using the strengths perspective include the nature of the adversities that the clients have been facing, the range of assets that they have as individuals or as a group, the context of their stressful experiences, their definitions of the stressful experiences and their competence over time. Such factors are interactive and very dynamic and it is almost impossible to find two clients with an exact situation.  

The term community means belonging to group and, thus, having a support system of sorts. Communities nurture the individual to develop a positive and participative mindset, in which they focus on building rather than destroying themselves. In this way, the community within which the clients exist, determines whether they already recognize and benefit from their strengths and assets or not. When considering the concept of community in strengths perspective, the social worker is often encouraged to look at the community as a niche that either nurtures and improves the individual assets of the client or suppresses them. The community element determines how the individual clients understands their abilities and potentials with respect to the rest of the world.  

Health and wellness is interconnected with almost every other element in the strengths perspective. The body and mind are dependent on one another and, as a result, one of the most common indications of resilience is the ability to resist illnesses and be strong. People have been known to develop survival instincts and traits that keep them safe and enable them to recover from major challenges in life. Consequently, the environment within which the clients exist determines the kind of knowledge that their bodies will find useful when they have to deal with a certain situation. The interconnectedness of the brain and the body in this case is a critical element of the strengths perspective. 

Underlying Assumptions and Values of the Perspective

Eight core values and assumptions are elevated under the strengths perspective. The first assumptions is that every individual client or group has some strengths, talents and potentials that are relevant to their situation an can, thus, help them overcome their stresses and challenges. The second assumption is that the community within which the clients exist can build or destroy them and within such perspective, a focus will be placed on the building aspect. The community in this case is considered as a source capable of nurturing the strengths of the individual or group. Thirdly, the notion of individualism has to be studied. Uner individualism, each client’s story is the foundation of their lifves and must, thus, be considered as unique and specific. It means that the social worker needs to allow the clients to determine what will work for their situation rather than borrowing solutions from another case. 

In addition, the clients are expected to know what they want and need at any given time and if there is need for an intervention, it must be done because the clients feel that they need it. Self-determination here is a major value for the perspective to work (Strumpfer, 2006). Another assumption is that the social worker is not a director or supervisor but rather a partner. The work here is done through collaboration, requiring a good relationship based on trust and understanding. Communication is also paramount as the two parties start working together with a common goal. The other assumption is that capacity to learn and grow is considered universal and, as a result, everyone has it. It means that even the most severe cases of trauma or self-destruction can be approached effectively with the strengths perspective. The key is in helping the client or group to identify their strengths and use them to overcome the problems. The seventh assumption is that reality is built through focus, and if the clients focuse on their strengths, they may become stronger than their challenges. It, however, does not imply avoiding challenges but rather accepting them as part of one’s way to knowledge and prosper. Such outlook fosters not only hope but also optimism in dealing with unpleasant situations and traumas. The last assumption is that assisting the clients in the process off self-discovery is easier if the foundation is the strengths and abilities that they already have and know about. It means that rather than taking a leap of faith with the social worker, they embark on a journey of exploration with a solid foundation. This makes it easier and more bearable for them.  

Compatibility with Social Work Values

The underlying assumptions and values of the perspective are very compatible with social work values. The first compatible value would be the social worker’s commitment to the individual’s primary importance within the society. It is in line with the strengths perspective principle that each individual has assets that can be appreciated and used for a better life. The value of respect and appreciation of the clients’ differences is also embedded in the strengths perspective value of individualism, where each case is unique and interventions are formulated based on the client’s story. The willingness to persist despite frustration also indicates that each individual has the capacity to grow and learn. Consequently, with the right inspiration they will be able to overcome their challenges.  

Compatibility with the Advanced Generalist Approach

The strengths perspective is not generally compatible with the advanced generalist approach, mainly due to the role of the social worker and the approach towards a solution. The strengths perspective sees the clients as individuals with their lives and a consistent exposure to risks and challenges, thus, focusing on building their strengths to overcome the challenges of the past and the future. The advanced generalist approach, on the other hand, regards a client’s problem, seeking for specific plans to solve it and then evaluating the effectiveness of the plan. It means that the approach considers temporary remedies to problems that could last for a long time, rather than building resilience and ensuring that the clients will be able to handle any other challenges in the future by themselves.    

Importance to Me as a Social Work Student and the Profession of Social Work

Social work deals with helping people to develop lasting solutions to their problems and especially with situations that would otherwise affect their well-being. The strengths perspective approach not only allows the social work students to understand the position and value of the clients as an individual but also to appreciate that they can overcome any challenges they face under the right guidance. It means that the strengths perspective main importance, both for me as a student and for social work, is that it provides a clear understanding of who the clients are. In addition, it supports the idea that they can succeed in dealing with their challenges provided with support and, in most cases, trust. 

The Origin and History of the Group

Children’s Division is a part of the Federal Government’s child protection services that were founded with the aim of rescuing children from neglect, abuse and abandonment among other things. The organization, thus, deals with children and families who have undergone traumatic situations, which in some cases involve physical, sexual or emotional violence, deprivation and even absolute neglect in some cases. Consequently, in most cases, the children are in need of care and protection from trauma caused by their parents or guardians, considering that some of them have already gone through the foster care system.    

Application of Key Concepts of the Strengths Perspective to the Group

The main aim of Children’s Division is to help children overcome any challenges they have faced with their parents or guardians. They are the main clients and, thus, the consideration is based on their needs. In most cases, they need to be a part of a family and to make such wish real to them, it is always important to make them appreciate themselves and understand that they have strengths and potentials that other people can also appreciate. Looking for the client’s strengths is a key part of making them realize that they are not guilty for whatever they experienced previously and that they are good children who deserve better life. 

In this group, professionals are expected to engage client motivation by finding and developing the individual strengths of the children and by making them appreciate what they can do as individuals rather than stressing the victim’s attitude and building resentment. The strengths perspective allows for some kind of positive reinforcement where the trauma is used to build the child’s character and make him/her ftronger for life that is often full of disappointments.   

Rather than being the authority, the professional here is a partner and a collaborator with the client in as far as the formulation and implementation of therapeutic work is concerned. It means that the children know their story and are able to use the right contexts to define their situations and develop working solutions. The social worker’s role here is mainly support and guidance where necessary. Collaboration, in this case, enables the professional to formulate a credible relationship that the child’s life lacks. By building trust and honesty, the social worker is able to ensure that the child does not lose faith in adults and is able to appreciate that not all grownups are bad or malicious.  

One of the main policies with the Children’s Division is avoiding the victim mindsets, which implies that the people within the group are taught to accept and overcome their problems rather than dwelling on the pain that they have. The idea is to use such experience to develop character and increase one’s capacity to deal with other challenges in the future. The fact that life is in itself a challenge means that adapting a victim’s mindset will make the children reactive, rather than proactive. As aresult, it can make them eternal victims supressed by others, who will dictate them what to do all for their lifetime.  

Dealing with the strengths perspective, one needs to see that his/her immediate environment is full of resources that can help him/her in one way or another. After living through unhealthy situations, most of such children return to their families in the hope that they will be safe and probably happier with their parents. It occurs due to the fact that instead of looking at the problems of a dysfunctional family, the perspective advocates for a consideration of how being around family will help the child develop the character. That is why the children at Children’s Division leave their homes only if the situation is determined as unbearable under all circumstances. Otherwise, the social worker is likely to take the child away for a while so that the parents or guardians could solve their issues and become better parents. 

Generally, it can be noted that the Children’s Division does not work to help only children but also their families. It is in line with the ideology that the family, as a small community, helps the children by giving them a sense of belonging and, thus, preventing the negative feelings of marginalization. By building the family and making it supportive enough for the child, the perspective helps ensure that the child will be nurtured rather than suppressed. Moreover, it is a key aspect to ensure a better future for the children. 

What Made This Group Effective?

The persistence of the social workers and the belief in change through the strengths of the families involved are the key factors for the group. Once the children are rescued from abusive homes, they are taught to appreciate themselves and build their character to become whom they want to be. Their families, on the other hand, are allowed to understand their mistakes and embrace the concept of change through their strengths as a unit. That is why in the end most of the families are able to take their children back home, while those that are unable to do so have to live with the consequences of their actions. The group is effective because it allows parents and guardians to redeem themselves and earn the right to be parents rather than just taking the children away without remorse. As a result, they allow the parents to change without exposing the children to unnecessary risk.   

Conclusions and Lessons from the Assignment and Additional Knowledge

I have learnt that when using the strengths perspective in assessing a group, the concept of individual circumstances will affect the outcome of each assessment based on the fact that each case is unique and has dynamic critical factors that I must always consider. The theory is helpful in ensuring that I pay attention not only to the plight of the children in question but also to the circumstances within their families and community as part of the environment they live in and which affects them. I also used the key concepts to analyze the group and it enabled me to appreciate the importance of the critical factors alongside with the other important factors like language and strength. As a professional social worker, I will employ the concepts of such perspective to empower children and their families in overcoming their challenges. As a result, they will be able to live as a family. Children often need to be with the people that they connect with and, thus, taking them away from their homes should be a last resort when all else has failed. My own participation in the group should be considered as a participaion of a collaborator and not an authority figure. I have learnt that as a social worker, I have to collaborate with the clients and be the person that they can trust enough to talk about their story with. It is important due to the fact that the best outcomes here can only be realized in the presence of a good functional relationship built on trust and openness. The remaining challenge for me with regards to my knowledge and application of the assigned perspective to the assessment of a group process is cultural competence. I have to deal with children and families that come from diverse backgrounds both locally and globally. It implies that I need to be able to relate with them at a level that is comfortable for them. 

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