Generalist Practice

Defining generalist practice:
“the application of an eclectic knowledge base, professional values, an...
Reflexive-therapeutic views:

Dominelli calls these therapeutic helping approaches. These see social work as seeking the b...
Meets individuals needs and improves services of which it is a part of – key aim effective and
efficient services

Mainten...
While postmodernism (PM) says that there is an alternative way of thinking about knowledge and
understanding – sees knowle...
Must be mindful of values and sources of theories

Critical Thinking and Reflexive Practice:

So eclecticism is linked wit...
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Generalist Practice Study Notes

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Generalist Practice Study Notes

  1. 1. Generalist Practice Defining generalist practice: “the application of an eclectic knowledge base, professional values, and a wide range of skills to target any size system for change within the context of four primary processes. First, striving for client empowerment; second, working in an organizational structure under supervision; requires the assumption of wide range of professional roles; involves the application of critical thinking skills” (Kirst-Ashman, 2007:104) Poulin argues that generalist practice often requires simultaneous interventions on multiple levels. Micro social work is interventions with individuals, couples, and families. Purpose here is to improve functioning and empower the client. Macro level interventions focus on organizational and community change. Payne argues that the adoption of a model, approach or theory in working with clients is not neutral. Social work is not a uniform profession and there are many different ways of seeing the mandate of social work. Social Work as Social Construction: This argument sees social work knowledge as constructed. Concept of constructionism is taken from sociological theory. Reality is made up of social knowledge which guides out behaviour but we all have different views of social knowledge. Shared views of reality occur when we share our knowledge through various social processes which organise and make it objective. Social activity becomes habitual so we have assumptions about how things are. For example the belief that education is important was initially social knowledge and through policies and laws has been institutionalised as a fact. We then behave according to social conventions based on that shared knowledge- social conventions then are instituationalised. Circular process where behaviour creates social knowledge and social knowledge creates behaviour – this done through institutionalisation and legitmation of social knowledge. So here the argument is that social work and its beliefs about human development and social concerns is socially constructed and not necessarily real. Discourses of politics of social theory: Social work knowledge then reflects different assumptions and social knowledge about the human beings. Payne divides these in to 3 key views or discourses. Discourses are interactions between what people or groups say or do that indicate important differences between them in the meaning they give to something.
  2. 2. Reflexive-therapeutic views: Dominelli calls these therapeutic helping approaches. These see social work as seeking the best possible well being for individuals, groups and communities in society, by promoting and facilitating growth and self-fulfilment. Workers are able to modify clients ideas and influence them and visa versa Mutual influence makes social work reflexive – responds to social concerns that workers find and gain understanding of as they practise. Personal power used by clients to rise above situations Social democratic political philosophy – economic and social development should go hand in hand to achieve individual and social improvement. Accept social order i.e.: existentialist, humanist and social psychology, psychodynamic, construction, and crisis approaches Socialist-collectivist views: Emancipatory approaches because free people from oppression See sw as seeking cooperation and mutual support in society so that the most oppressed and disadvantaged people can gain power over their lives. This done by sw through facilitating process of empowerment through which people can take part in a process of learning and cooperation which creates institutions which all can own and participate in. Sees elites as holding all the resources and power which they use for their own advantage and in the process create oppression. Argues cant achieve personal and social fulfilment as elites obstruct possibilities for poor Sw challenges this by trying to create more eglatarian relationships in society. In doing this the ultimate goal is to transform society for the benefit of the poor Personal and social empowerment require that society makes transformation to benefiting poor Individual and therapeutic work is a stepping stone to bigger change – ie small changes aiming towards bigger ones Socialist political philosophy which argues for planned economies and social provision as these promote equality and social justice i.e.: critical, anti-oppressive, feminist and empowerment approaches Individual reformist views: See sw as an aspect of welfare services to individuals in societies
  3. 3. Meets individuals needs and improves services of which it is a part of – key aim effective and efficient services Maintenance approaches See sw as maintaining the social order and social fabric of society as well as maintaining people during any period of difficulty they experience so they can recover stability again Trying to change societies is impractical and unrealistic as objectives of social work activity are small scale individual change which cant lead to major social and personal changes Stakeholders in sw services want a better ft between society and individuals Expresses the liberal or rational economic political philosophy – that personal freedom in economic markets, supported by the rule of law is the best way of organising societies. i.e.: task centred and systems theory, cognitive behavioural, social development Summing up Social work therefore is not one thing but has many faces. Social conditions and cultures contribute towards the construction of social work. Paradigms Refers to pattern or template and something that is commonly reproduced in activity Need to be cautious in saying that sw has one or even three paradigms because in practising social work different mixtures of these views are used by organisations So social work in context varies considerably Modern or Post Modern Payne then looks at how sw views knowledge and understands the theories that it uses. He argues that there are two ways of viewing the world and knowledge: modernism and post-modernism. Concludes that social work falls within the modernism tradition as problems viewed as rational. However he argues that we need to use post modernism to understand theories, models and approaches. Post modernism (PM) refers to how knowledge is created, changes in the way that we think about our societies and the way in which we create and understand knowledge Modernism refers to emphasis placed on rationality and scientific method SW theory modernist as well because it says we can reach a rational understanding of human beings and society and decide how to act consistently to change both people and societies according to our knowledge SW as modern because we can understand and study social problems and society and take rational action to deal with the problems we see
  4. 4. While postmodernism (PM) says that there is an alternative way of thinking about knowledge and understanding – sees knowledge as always socially constructed and choice of which knowledge is developed is not neutral PM also says that we cannot objective observe society but rather that in observing we take part in constructing it. Language aids construction and is part of the politics of discourse SW is seen in PM as being ambiguous, contested and responding to cultural and social context Arenas of SW Following from understanding theories, models and approaches as socially constructed Payne examines the ways that this knowledge is influenced and created. He argues that 3 arenas influence one another to create sw knowledge. Social construction in sw is a complex of social structures and individual participants influencing each other. 3 arenas of construction 1.) Political-social-ideological arena Social and political debate forms the policy that guides agencies and the purposes that they are set or developed for themselves. i.e. government agenda children so agencies deal with children 2.) Agency-professional area Employees and collective organisations of employees such as trade unions, engage in influencing each other about the more specific elements of how social work will operate i.e. Trauma professionals association saying that Wits Trauma model is to be used 3.) Client-worker-agency arena Selection or Eclecticism? This links in with the generalist perspective which argues for eclecticism. Selection – reviews theories and then selects on theory or a group of similar theories to use as the basis of practice. Problem with selection is that a particular theory may not be best one to use in the circumstances Eclecticism refers to picking up some ideas from several theories and putting them together to produce a style of work that suits our agency or our own capabilities and preferences. Problem is that some theories are internally inconsistent with each other Being eclectic is something that should be done in a planned way testing out our decisions with a team of people. Shared construction is better than individual construction.
  5. 5. Must be mindful of values and sources of theories Critical Thinking and Reflexive Practice: So eclecticism is linked with critical thinking and reflexive practice. Need to adopt them to practice effectively. Increasing process knowledge about the way in which professionals make decisions and judgements helps this. Reflective thinking is concerned with identifying a process of working things through, while reflexive thinking is concerned with the stance of taking into account as many different perspectives on the situation as possible, and especially different perspectives among clients and their social networks. Critical thinking means not taking for granted the present social order, but actively looking for social change. FRAMEWORKS FOR ANALYSING THEORIES So given the need for critical and reflexive thinking Payne proposes this framework for analyzing theories and their key value bases and aims. Uses this to understand micro, macro and meso theories. (Whittington and Holland, 1985 in Payne, 2005:45) Theories of radical change Radical SW Marxist SW (‘raisers of consciousness’) (‘revolutionaries’) Subjective Objective indiv macro Interactionist Traditional SW (‘seekers after meaning’) (‘fixers’) Humanist, postmodern, constructionist modernist, positivist, scientific Theories of regulation

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