+1(978)310-4246 credencewriters@gmail.com
  

I’m working on a sociology case study and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

http://www.routledgesw.com/cases

THIS IS ON THE SANCHEZ FAMILY.

Papers should be 1 page single spaced. Students should use a minimum of two scholarly resources to support their responses to the case study questions. Responses to each question should be detailed and supported with scholarly works. Two scholarly works found by the student are required. Additional resources such as the course text or other course materials can be used/cited, but are in addition to the two scholarly sources found by the student. Peer reviewed articles are in APA format. Articles should be current (2015 – current). This is a social worker perspective. Interventions should be SOCIAL WORK interventions.

Questions:

Mrs. Sanchez’s own pregnancies all occurred within the context of her low income, frequent separation from her spouse, and disconnection from important supports and resources. How might this environment have affected her pregnancy and birth experiences, as well as the early development of her children? Looking at Mrs. Sanchez through a strengths perspective, how do you frame her journey to motherhood?

Considering Emilia specifically, how do you see the intersection of race and class as affecting her experience with an unplanned pregnancy?

What information in this chapter might be useful to Emilia as she considers her options for the pregnancy? How might you assess Emilia’s current need for and interest in information about her health, her pregnancy, and potential avenues?

What types of interventions might you develop for Emilia? How could your work with other members of the family make a difference for Emilia at this point?

What changes to policies could affect Emilia’s experiences and potential outcomes in pregnancy?

What ethical issues might you face in working with the family, specifically during Emilia’s pregnancy? How would you propose to navigate those dilemmas?

www.routledgesw.com
Melinda Lewis, University of Kansas, Series Editor
An authentic breakthrough in social work education . . .
New Directions in Social Work is an innovative, integrated series of texts, website, and interactive case
studies for generalist courses in the social work curriculum at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
Instructors will find everything they need to build a comprehensive course that allows students to meet course
outcomes, with these unique features:
• All texts, interactive cases, and test materials are linked to the 2015 CSWE Policy and Accreditation
Standards (EPAS).
• One web portal with easy access for instructors and students from any computer—no codes, no CDs,
no restrictions. Go to www.routledgesw.com and discover.
• The series is flexible and can be easily adapted for use in online distance-learning courses as well
as hybrid and bricks-and-mortar courses.
• Each text and the website can be used individually or as an entire series to meet the needs of any
social work program.
2
Titles in the Series
Social Work and Social Welfare: An Invitation, Fifth Edition by Marla Berg-Weger
Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Fifth Edition by Anissa Taun Rogers
Research for Effective Social Work Practice, Fourth Edition by Judy L. Krysik and Jerry Finn
Social Policy for Effective Practice: A Strengths Approach, Fourth Edition by Rosemary K. Chapin
The Practice of Generalist Social Work, Fourth Edition by Julie Birkenmaier and Marla Berg-Weger
3
Human Behavior in the Social Environment provides social work students with essential knowledge about human behavior and development
in a way that engages and challenges them to consider theory as it applies to contemporary problems in the field and in society.
Kristina Hash, LCSW, PhD, Professor and Director, Gerontology Certificate Program, School of Social Work, West Virginia University
4
Human Behavior in the Social Environment
The fifth edition of Human Behavior in the Social Environment takes students through the life course
perspective to give a concise, compact treatment of human behavior.
The text also comes with a rich companion website that includes support materials and six unique cases that
encourage students to learn by doing and to apply their knowledge of human behavior to best practices.
by Anissa Taun Rogers
University of Portland
In this book and companion custom website you will find:
• A comprehensive overview of the issues related to human behavior and the social environment that are
important to understand for practice, updated with current and relevant information on important
topics in social work practice and expanded to clarify complex issues. Additional relevant content,
contemporary theories, and intervention modalities have been added and incorporated throughout the
text to keep students up to date with what is happening in the field.
• Careful organization of chapters to first present foundational theoretical perspectives on the human
condition, and then provide information on basic facets of human development, encouraging students
to use conceptual lenses to inform their practice with individuals at different stages of life. The
organization of the chapters also helps students better understand how contemporary theories and
approaches to issues stem from foundational theories and how they can be used to inform work with
clients.
• Particular emphasis on the ways in which poverty, diversity, and strengths affect human development
and behavior.
• The opportunity to see how the concepts fit into social work practice using case examples that open
each chapter and are referred to throughout the chapter.
• Interactive case studies at www.routledgesw.com/cases: Six easy-to-access fictional cases with
dynamic characters and situations that students can easily reach from any computer and that provide
a “learning by doing” format unavailable with any other text. Your students will have an advantage
unlike any other they will experience in their social work training.
• A wealth of instructor-only resources at www.routledgesw.com/hbse that provide full-text readings
that link to the concepts presented in each of the chapters; a complete bank of objective and essay-type
test items, all linked to current CSWE EPAS (Council on Social Work Education Educational Policy
and Accreditation Standards); PowerPoint presentations to help students master key concepts;
annotated links to a treasure trove of social work assets on the Internet; and a forum inviting all
instructors using books in the series to communicate with each other and share ideas to improve
teaching and learning.
• Ideal for use in online as well as hybrid course instruction—in addition to traditional “bricks and
mortar” classes.
5
Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Perspectives on Development and the Life Course
Fifth Edition
Anissa Taun Rogers
University of Portland
6
Fifth edition published 2019
by Routledge
52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017
and by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business
© 2019 Taylor & Francis
The right of Anissa Taun Rogers to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance
with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any
electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and
recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.
Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only
for identification and explanation without intent to infringe.
First edition published by McGraw-Hill 2005
Fourth edition published by Routledge 2016
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Rogers, Anissa, author.
Title: Human behavior in the social environment / Anissa Taun Rogers, University of Portland.
Description: Fifth Edition. | New York : Routledge, 2019. | Series: New directions in social work | Revised
edition of the author’s Human behavior in the social environment, 2016. | Includes bibliographical references
and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2018040965 (print) | LCCN 2018041981 (ebook) | ISBN 9780429466670 (Master Ebook) | ISBN
9780429882340 (Web pdf) | ISBN 9780429882333 (ePub) | ISBN 9780429882326 (Mobipocket) | ISBN
9781138608238 (hardback) | ISBN 9781138608245 (pbk.)
Subjects: LCSH: Social service—Psychological aspects. | Human behavior. | Developmental psychology. | Social
psychology.
Classification: LCC HV40 (ebook) | LCC HV40 .R664 2019 (print) | DDC 302—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018040965
ISBN: 978-1-138-60823-8 (hbk)
ISBN: 978-1-138-60824-5 (pbk)
ISBN: 978-0-429-46667-0 (ebk)
Typeset in ITC Stone Serif Std
by Apex CoVantage, LLC
Visit the companion website: www.routledgesw.com
7
To all social workers, both students and those in the field, who help to shape my ideas and inspire me
personally and professionally.
8
Brief Contents
Preface
Acknowledgments
About the Author
CHAPTER 1 Human Behavior and the Social Work Profession
CHAPTER 2 Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: The Person in the Environment
CHAPTER 3 Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: Biopsychosocial Dimensions
CHAPTER 4 Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: Sociocultural Dimensions
CHAPTER 5 Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: Social Change Dimensions
CHAPTER 6 Pre-Pregnancy and Prenatal Issues
CHAPTER 7 Development in Infancy and Early Childhood
CHAPTER 8 Development in Middle Childhood
CHAPTER 9 Development in Adolescence
CHAPTER 10 Development in Early Adulthood
CHAPTER 11 Development in Middle Adulthood
CHAPTER 12 Development in Late Adulthood
CHAPTER 13 Looking Forward: Challenges and Opportunities for the Social Work Profession
References
Glossary/Index
9
Detailed Contents
Preface
Acknowledgments
About the Author
CHAPTER 1 Human Behavior and the Social Work Profession
Defining “Human Behavior in the Social Environment”
Understanding How Knowledge and Theory Inform Social Work
The Role of Theory
Theoretical Lenses
Interactions of Theories
The Debate about Empirical Knowledge and Practical Knowledge
The Quality of Knowledge and Theory
QUICK GUIDE 1: EVALUATIVE CRITERIA FOR THEORY
QUICK GUIDE 2: EVALUATIVE CRITERIA FOR RESEARCH
Theoretical Eclecticism
The Single Theory Argument
The Argument for Eclecticism
The Application of Theory and Knowledge in Social Work Practice
Maintaining Social Work Values
Learning About Human Behavior and Social Work Practice
Relating Knowledge of Human Behavior to Other Social Work Courses
Framing the Study of Human Behavior through this Book’s Organization
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 2 Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: The Person in the Environment
Micro, Mezzo, and Macro Levels of Conceptualization
QUICK GUIDE 3: THE PERSON IN THE ENVIRONMENT LENS: THEORIES, APPROACHES,
AND PERSPECTIVES
Applying the Micro, Mezzo, and Macro Levels of Conceptualization
Critiquing the Micro, Mezzo, and Macro Levels of Conceptualization
The Biopsychosocial Approach
Applying the Biopsychosocial Approach
Critiquing the Biopsychosocial Approach
Systems Theory
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Diagramming Family Systems
Genograms
Ecomaps
Applying Systems Theory
Family Subsystems and Boundaries
Roles and Homeostasis
Input and Output
Entropy
Equifinality and Multifinality
Critiquing Systems Theory
Ecological Theory
Applying Ecological Theory
Critiquing Ecological Theory
The Ecosystems Approach: Combining Ecological and Systems Theories
The Strengths Perspective
Applying the Strengths Perspective
Critiquing the Strengths Perspective
Intersectionality Theory
Applying Intersectionality Theory
Critiquing Intersectionality Theory
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 3 Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: Biopsychosocial Dimensions
QUICK GUIDE 4: THE BIOPSYCHOSOCIAL LENS: THEORIES, MODELS, AND
PERSPECTIVES
The Disease Model
The Medical Model
QUICK GUIDE 5: DSM-5 ASSESSMENT
Key Elements of Human Biology
The Brain and the Nervous System
Neurons
Neurotransmitters
The Endocrine System
Genetics
Applying the Medical Model
Critiquing the Medical Model
Theories of Cognitive Development
11
Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
Applying Piaget’s Theory
Critiquing Piaget’s Theory
Psychodynamic Theories
Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Development
Applying Freudian Theory
Critiquing Freudian Theory
Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development
Applying Erikson’s Theory
Integrating Erikson’s Theory with Piaget’s Theory
Critiquing Erikson’s Theory
Behavioral and Learning Theories
Classical Conditioning
Operant Conditioning
Social Learning Theory
Applying Learning Theory
Critiquing Learning Theory
Humanistic and Existential Perspectives
Person-Centered Therapy and Transactional Analysis
Person-Centered and Participant-Directed Service Models
Applying Humanistic and Existential Perspectives
Critiquing Humanistic and Existential Perspectives
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 4 Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: Sociocultural Dimensions
QUICK GUIDE 6: THE
PERSPECTIVES
Sociological Theories
SOCIOCULTURAL
LENS:
Conflict Theory
Karl Marx and Conflict Theory
Conflict Theories since Marx
Applying Conflict Theory
Family
Health Care
Conflict Theory and Social Work
Aisha’s Case and Conflict Theory
Critiquing Conflict Theory
Critical Practice Theory
Applying Critical Practice Theory
Critiquing Critical Practice Theory
Functionalist Theory
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THEORIES,
MODELS,
AND
Emile Durkheim
Robert K. Merton
Talcott Parsons
Applying Functionalist Theory
Education and Language
Functionalist Theory and Social Work
Aisha’s Case and Functionalist Theory
Critiquing Functionalist Theory
Symbolic Interaction Theory and Social Constructionism
George Herbert Mead
Charles Horton Cooley
Erving Goffman
Applying Symbolic Interaction Theory
Body Piercing
Aisha’s Case and Symbolic Interaction Theory
Critiquing Symbolic Interaction Theory
Feminist Theory
Branches of Feminist Theory
Applying Feminist Theory
Critiquing Feminist Theory
Cultural Perspectives
Cultural Perspectives and Social Work
Culture and the NASW Code of Ethics
Minorities’ Dual Perspective
Multiculturalism
Applying Cultural Perspectives
Critiquing Cultural Perspectives
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 5 Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: Social Change Dimensions
Theories of Racism, Discrimination, and Oppression
QUICK GUIDE 7: THE SOCIAL CHANGE LENS: THEORIES AND PERSPECTIVES
Racism
Discrimination, Prejudice, and Privilege
Theories of Prejudice
Oppression
Applying Theories of Racism, Discrimination, and Oppression
Critiquing Theories of Racism, Discrimination, and Oppression
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Manifestations of Racism, Discrimination, and Prejudice: Microaggressions
Social and Economic Justice Perspectives
Applying Social and Economic Justice Perspectives
Critiquing Social and Economic Justice Perspectives
Social Change and Social Action Perspectives
Contemporary Social Action Perspectives
Applying Social Change and Social Action Perspectives
Critiquing Social Change and Social Action Perspectives
Community Organization Theory
How Social Work Defines and Perceives Community
Community and Social Work Practice
Applying Community Organization Theory
Critiquing Community Organization Theory
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 6 Pre-Pregnancy and Prenatal Issues
Developmental Milestones in the Fetus
Growth Processes from Conception through Birth
QUICK GUIDE 8: MILESTONES IN FETAL DEVELOPMENT
Low Birth Weight
Pregnancy, Birth, and the Individual
Planned and Unplanned Pregnancy
Abortion
Pregnancy in Later Life
Fertility Issues
Parents’ Biological, Psychological, and Emotional Health
Birth Defects and Hazards to Fetal Development
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs
Rh Incompatibility
Environmental Toxins
Paternal Age
Maternal Health
Genetic Disorders
Pregnancy, Birth, and the Family and Immediate Environment
Access to Health Care
The Relationship between the Birth Mother and Her Care Providers
Control over the Childbirth Environment
14
Birthing Classes
C-Sections
Episiotomies
Doulas and Midwives
Breastfeeding
Adoption
Open Adoption
Interracial Adoption
Workplace Policies on Pregnancy and Birth
Pregnancy, Birth, and the Larger Social Environment
Effects of Poverty on Pregnancy and Birth
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Poverty, Pregnancy, and the Hierarchy of Needs
Social Policies Related to Pregnancy and Birth
Medical Leave Laws
International Family Planning
Environmental Issues Related to Pregnancy and Birth
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 7 Development in Infancy and Early Childhood
Developmental Milestones in Infants and Young Children
Language Acquisition
Biological vs. Behavioral Perspectives on Language Development
A Balance of Biological and Behavioral Influences on Language
Emotional Development
Motor Development
QUICK GUIDE 9: MAJOR MILESTONES IN GROSS MOTOR DEVELOPMENT
The Individual in Infancy and Early Childhood
Attachment
Secure Attachment: The Debates
Insecure Attachments: The Causes
Gender Identity
Sex Characteristics and Gender Identity
Transgender Children
Gender Reassignment and Affirmation
15
Temperament
Autism
Effects of Low Socioeconomic Status on Individual Development
The Family and Immediate Environment in Infancy and Early Childhood
Parenting
Grandparenting
Siblings
Personality Traits and Birth Order
Family Size and Access to Resources
Childcare
Child Abuse and Neglect
QUICK GUIDE 10: COMMON SIGNS OF CHILD MALTREATMENT
The Larger Social Environment in Infancy and Early Childhood
Child Protection
Permanency Planning: Foster Care, Adoption, and Family Support
Health Care
Early Childhood Education
Head Start
An Ecological Perspective on Education Policy
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 8 Development in Middle Childhood
Developmental Milestones in Older Children
QUICK GUIDE 11: DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES IN MIDDLE CHILDHOOD
The Individual in Middle Childhood
Intelligence and Intelligence Testing
Theories of Diverse Intelligences
Standardized Intelligence Tests
Learning Disabilities
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Anxiety Disorders
The Family and Immediate Environment in Middle Childhood
Peer Groups in Middle Childhood
Play
Parental Discipline
Discipline in Middle Childhood
Physical Punishment
Separation and Divorce
16
Alternative Family Forms
Stepfamilies and Blended Families
Single Parent and Cohabiting Households
Gay and Lesbian Parents
The Larger Social Environment in Middle Childhood
Children and Media
Children in the Educational Context
Special Education
School Choice and Vouchers
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 9 Development in Adolescence
Developmental Milestones in the Teen Years
QUICK GUIDE 12: DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES IN ADOLESCENCE
Physical Development
Cognitive, Personality, and Emotional Development
Moral Development
Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development
Gilligan’s Theory of Moral Development
The Individual in Adolescence
Learning
Self-Esteem
Eating Disorders
QUICK GUIDE 13: DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA FOR ANOREXIA AND BULIMIA NERVOSA
Anorexia Nervosa
Bulimia Nervosa
Early and Late Maturation
Sexual Identity and Sexuality
Sexual Activity in Adolescence
Sexual Development in Heterosexual Teens
Sexual Development in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer Teens
STIs, HIV, and AIDS
Substance Use
Factors Associated with Substance Use
Research with Teens: An Ethical Dilemma
Suicide
QUICK GUIDE 14: SAD PERSONS SUICIDE ASSESSMENT
17
The Family and Immediate Environment in Adolescence
Peer Groups in Adolescence
Teen Pregnancy
The Larger Social Environment in Adolescence
Sex Education
The Debate over Sex Education
A Critique of Sex Education
Heterosexism, Homophobia, and Queermisia
Runaway and Homeless Teens
Deviance, Crime, and Violence
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 10 Development in Early Adulthood
Developmental Milestones in Young Adults
QUICK GUIDE 15: DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES IN EARLY ADULTHOOD
The Individual in Early Adulthood
Emerging Adulthood
Mental Illness
Schizophrenia
Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Mental Illness and Social Work Strategies
Disability
Spirituality
Fowler’s Theory of Faith Development
Spirituality in Social Work Practice
The Family and Immediate Environment in Early Adulthood
Relationships and Living Arrangements
Intimate Partner Violence
Theories of Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate Partner Violence and Social Work Practice
The Larger Social Environment in Early Adulthood
Higher Education
Sexism
The Wage Gap
Causes of the Wage Gap
Theories of Sexism
Sexism and Social Work
18
Sexual Harassment
Sexual Harassment and Popular Culture
Theories of Sexual Harassment
Strategies to Prevent Sexual Harassment
Civil Rights Laws and Affirmative Action
The Affirmative Action Debate
Theoretical Bases of Affirmative Action
Affirmative Action and Social Work
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 11 Development in Middle Adulthood
Developmental Milestones in Middle Age
QUICK GUIDE 16: DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES IN MIDDLE ADULTHOOD
Physical Developments in Middle Adulthood
Cognitive Developments in Middle Adulthood
Levinson’s Theory of Adult Development
Motivational Interviewing
The Individual in Middle Adulthood
Menopause
Hormone Replacement Therapy
The Psychological Dimension of Menopause
The Cultural Dimension of Menopause
The Male Climacteric
Midlife Crisis
Psychological Adjustment in Midlife
Theories and Perspectives on Midlife Crisis
Chronic Illness and Disease
Common Diseases Emerging in Middle Age
Health Disparities
The Family and Immediate Environment in Middle Adulthood
Love and Marriage in Middle Age
Sternberg’s Theory of Love
Perils of Romantic Love
Marital Satisfaction
Divorce
Remarriage
Family Patterns in Middle Age
Social Work with Couples and Families
19
Retirement
Retirement Patterns
Preparation for Retirement
Theoretical Perspectives on Retirement
The Larger Social Environment in Middle Adulthood
Ageism
Ageism in the Workplace
Ageism in Popular Culture
Immigration
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 12 Development in Late Adulthood
Developmental Milestones in Older Adults
Physical Changes in Late Adulthood
Osteoporosis
QUICK GUIDE 17: DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES IN LATER ADULTHOOD
Loss of Muscle Mass
Arthritis
Hearing-Related Problems
Vision-Related Problems
Slower Reaction Time and Decreased Coordination
Changes in Appearance
Social Workers and the Physical Changes of Late Adulthood
Cognitive and Psychological Changes in Late Adulthood
Dementia
Cognitive Changes
Personality and Aging
Depression and Suicide
Social Workers and the Psychological Changes of Late Adulthood
The Individual in Late Adulthood
Psychological Theories of Aging
Disengagement Theory
Activity Theory
Continuity Theory
Peck’s Theory of Ego Integrity
Aging Well
Spirituality and Aging
Sexuality in Late Adulthood
20
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Older Adults
Grief and Loss
Normal Grief and Complicated Grief
Other Theories of Grief
Kübler-Ross’ Theory of Death and Dying
Terror Management Theory
Life Review and Narrative Therapies
Social Work with the Grieving and Dying
The Family and Immediate Environment in Late Adulthood
Grandparenting
Older Adults and their Caregivers
Effects of Caregiving on Caregivers
Caregiving and Social Work
Elder Abuse and Neglect
The Larger Social Environment in Late Adulthood
Long-Term and Alternative Care
Managed Care and LTC Insurance
Housing Options
Poverty and Older Adults
Policies Linked to Services for Older Adults
Social Security
Older Americans Act
Medicare
Medicaid
End-of-Life Considerations
Assisted Suicide
Advance Directives and Living Wills
Palliative Care and Hospices
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
CHAPTER 13 Looking Forward: Challenges and Opportunities for the Social Work Profession
Environmental Issues and Sustainability
Social and Environmental Sustainability
Climate Change and the Larger System
Social Work’s Role in Climate Change
Economic Disparities
The Widening Gap between the Rich and the Poor
Outsourcing, Underemployment, and Livable Wages
21
Social Work and Responses to the Wealth Gap
Health Disparities
Health Issues in Our Environment
Access to Health Care
Social Work’s Role in Reducing Health Disparities
Demographic Shifts
Global Aging
Changing Racial and Ethnic Demographics
Racism and Prejudice
Social Work and Demographic Shifts
Technology and Technological Advances
Aging, Caregiving, and Aging in Place
Physical and Mental Health and Social Well-Being
Social Work and Technological Advances
Global Tension and Violence
Social Work and Global Conflict
Shifting Cultural Views on Social Issues
Social Work’s Role in Cultural Change
The Future of the Social Work Profession
Conclusion
Main Points
Exercises
References
Glossary/Index
22
23
Preface
Major Changes to the Fifth Edition
Like the last four editions of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, this latest edition provides students
with an overview of the issues related to human behavior and the social environment that are important to
understand for practice. This information has been updated to offer students current and relevant information
on important topics in social work practice and expanded to help students understand the complexity of the
issues they will face in the field, including how poverty, diversity, and strengths affect human development
and behavior.
Additional important and relevant issues, theories, and treatment modalities have been added and
incorporated into the chapters to help students understand how foundational theoretical and empirical
knowledge have shaped contemporary knowledge in, and approaches to, social work and to give students upto-date information on work being done in the field. For example, additional research and content have been
added to explore how issues at all stages of life affect different populations, and new evidence-based research
on many issues has been added throughout. Several new theories and perspectives have been added throughout
the book including intersectionality theory and perspectives on cultural competence and humility. Content has
been updated to reflect changes in many areas including media use; eating disorders; substance use; use of
language and power; and updated information on trauma, trauma-informed, and health-centered approaches.
Further, the end-of-chapter exercises have been updated to include assignments not tied to online case studies.
For the new editions of all five books in the New Directions in Social Work series, each addressing a
foundational course in the social work curriculum, the publisher offers a uniquely distinctive teaching strategy
that revolves around the print book but offers much more than the traditional text experience. The series
website www.routledgesw.com leads to custom websites coordinated with each text and offering a variety of
features to support instructors as you integrate the many facets of an education in social work.
At www.routledgesw.com/hbse, you will find a wealth of resources to help you create a dynamic,
experiential introduction to social work for your students. The website houses companion readings linked to
key concepts in each chapter, along with questions to encourage further thought and discussion; six interactive
fictional cases with accompanying exercises that bring to life the concepts covered in the book, readings, and
classroom discussions; a bank of exam questions (both objective and open-ended) and PowerPoint
presentations; annotated links to a treasure trove of articles, videos, and Internet sites; and an online forum
inviting all instructors using texts in the series to share ideas to improve teaching and learning.
The fifth edition contains a set of Quick Guides, which are meant to be useful for students engaged in field
work. They appear in the book as well as at the website for the book. They can be printed out and carried along
for reference.
You may find most useful a set of sample syllabi showing how Human Behavior in the Social Environment,
fifth edition, can be used in a variety of course structures. A master syllabus demonstrates how the text and
website used together through the course satisfy the 2015 CSWE EPAS.
The interactive cases offer students rich and detailed examples of complex situations they will face in their
work as well as additional opportunities to apply theory and concepts to real-world situations. Other cases
provide students opportunities to apply concepts to mezzo- and macro-level situations and to better understand
how individual issues are interconnected to and impacted by larger, more macro issues.
The organization and content of this book and companion website are such that students at the Bachelor’s
and Master’s levels of their social work education can utilize the knowledge gained from studying the material;
specifically, this knowledge can be applied to both generalist and specialized practice. The fifth edition, along
with the new supplemental chapters, can be used throughout a two-semester sequence as well as a onesemester course, and the integrated supplements and resources on the Web make the text especially amenable
for online distance-learning and hybrid courses.
For example, a supplemental online chapter on the autism spectrum can be used to help students learn more
24
about the disorder, spark in-depth discussions about the causes and treatments for autism, and help students
understand the ways in which it might impact their practice. Readings (and accompanying questions) have
been specifically added to offer more breadth and depth to selected topics, giving students and instructors
options about which topics to explore more thoroughly and to provide opportunities to explore the diversity
and complexity that are associated with the social issues with which social workers grapple. These readings
can also be used to help students with more self-directed learning in areas about which they are particularly
interested and may want to explore further beyond the scope of the material that is normally covered in the
course.
25
Organization of the Book
The chapters of this book are arranged first to give students an overview of the content, next to offer brief
discussions of theoretical perspectives on the human condition, and then to provide information on basic facets
of human development. Chapters 1 through 5 expose students to theoretical thinking and why it is important
in social work as well as how it can help them to organize their thinking about clients and the issues they
present in practice. Chapters 6 through 12 introduce students to important developmental, social, and cultural
issues related to specific phases of life that are often relevant to practice. These chapters present developmental
information extending from before conception into old age and encourage students to consider how
development on biological, psychological, social, and cultural levels can impact individuals, families,
communities, and social institutions. Exploring the various dynamic interactions that occur between the
individual and the environment will help students to understand these interactions from theoretical and
practice perspectives. Additionally, Chapters 6 through 12 offer discussions on relevant theoretical models and
treatment modalities, grounded in theoretical perspectives introduced in Chapters 1 through 5, which are often
used to better understand and work with specific issues and tasks faced by people in different developmental
timeframes. Chapter 13 explores broad, contemporary and future issues that will pose challenges and
opportunities for social workers and their clients, such as climate change, demographic shifts, and health and
economic disparities.
The following paragraphs briefly introduce each of the chapters included in this book, with emphasis on the
updated content.
Chapter 1
Human Behavior and the Social Work Profession offers a detailed discussion about why thinking about
human behavior within the social environment is so important to social work education and to the profession.
It will give students a sense of why they were asked to learn all those theories that were presented to them in
other classes as well as all the other information that did not seem relevant to their major. The goal of the first
chapter is to answer for students the questions, how does all this fit together, and why is it relevant to my
work with clients? It also helps students understand how this knowledge base fits with CSWE’s education
policies. Finally, the first chapter will set the context for the rest of the book and help students to think about
how to approach the information.
The next four chapters give students an overview of the theoretical concepts often used by social workers to
help them make sense of the interactions between human behavior and the social environment.
Chapter 2
Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: The Person in the Environment presents broadly
based, comprehensive theoretical models—for example, the biopsychosocial approach, systems theory, and the
strengths perspective—that tend to be used frequently in generalist practice. These theories, although often
borrowed from other disciplines, lend themselves well to social work because they address constructs of
problem conceptualization and intervention that are unique to the profession. Chapter 2 is designed to give
students a base on which to incorporate more specific theories discussed in the following chapters.
Chapter 3
Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: Biopsychosocial Dimensions provides an
overview of some specific theories that come out of psychology and related fields. These theories help students
to think about how and why we become the people we are. Students will encounter theories related to
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physical, emotional, and cognitive development as well as ways to think about how we learn in both individual
and social contexts. Students will also learn how the brain, genetics, neurobiological processes, and the
endocrine systems shape and affect behavior.
Chapter 4
Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: Sociocultural Dimensions takes a look at how
societies function and how individuals are affected by the order and purpose of various social institutions. Each
of the theories discussed in this chapter has a distinctive “slant” on the way in which it attempts to explain
society, which in turn affects the way the social worker explains personal problems. Learning about the
theories covered in Chapter 4 will give students an opportunity to think about the larger society and the ways
in which its structure affects the work done in the profession. Additional material on theories and related
issues was added to this chapter to expand students’ thinking in these realms.
Chapter 5
Lenses for Conceptualizing Problems and Interventions: Social Change Dimensions continues the
discussion on the broader context of human lives and problems. It explores theories that address the social
context in which we live and ways in which we can effect change to better our lives. Chapter 5 explores the
problems of social injustice that affect people individually but that are often rooted in larger social contexts.
These theories help students to think about how personal issues are often intertwined with social and political
issues, and why addressing them often requires social action to change lives on the individual level.
The remaining chapters address particular stages in life.
Chapter 6
Pre-Pregnancy and Prenatal Issues offers information on fetal development and some of the issues that
clients may present with during a pregnancy and after birth. For example, students explore topics of low birth
weight, planned and unplanned pregnancies, and hazards to fetal development. Students also explore familial
and environmental issues such as access to health care, workplace policies, and international issues affecting
family planning, with a focus on some of the ethical dilemmas posed by prenatal testing and other related
health care situations. Students will find updated research on various topics and a discussion on abortion.
Chapter 7
Development in Infancy and Early Childhood exposes students to physical, psychological, and emotional
developmental issues in early childhood and some of the issues that can affect clients and their families during
this stage of development. It discusses theoretical perspectives on attachment that are pertinent to this stage of
life as well as recent research in areas such as autism, parenting, child abuse, childcare, and policies affecting
children and families.
Chapter 8
Development in Middle Childhood exposes students to developmental processes of children in this age range
and presents pertinent information on related individual, familial, and social issues. Debates and updated
information on areas such as intelligence and intelligence testing, learning disabilities, parental discipline, gay
and lesbian parenting, divorce and remarriage, and the effects of media are included. Students are also
introduced to theory on play in this chapter.
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Chapter 9
Development in Adolescence covers developmental considerations of this life stage and the various issues
that clients are likely to deal with at this age. Issues such as eating disorders, self-esteem, pregnancy, sexual
identity development, substance abuse, and suicide are discussed, as are issues around sex education, violence,
and heterosexism and homophobia. Students are introduced to theories on moral and sexual identity
development, which are likely to be pertinent to their work with clients at this age.
Chapter 10
Development in Early Adulthood covers the continued physical and cognitive development into adulthood
and issues that people at this life stage are likely to face, such as mental illness, disability, and problems with
spirituality. Theory around spirituality development and an expanded discussion on spirituality are included in
this chapter. Domestic violence, sexism, sexual harassment, and related social policies are also discussed.
Chapter 11
Development in Middle Adulthood explores continued development as we age and explores in depth some of
the physical and cognitive changes that can occur, as well as issues these changes may raise. Topics such as
immigration, menopause and the male climacteric, health care and chronic illness, and marriage and love are
explored. A section on health disparities highlights problems that some minority groups face with regard to
chronic illness. Retirement and theories surrounding retirement are discussed, as are issues around ageism.
Chapter 12
Development in Late Adulthood discusses developmental issues in older age and continued physical and
cognitive changes that take place as we age. In this chapter, students are exposed to various theories of aging
and how they can be used to conceptualize work with older clients. Discussions on spirituality, depression,
sexuality, grief and loss, and issues for gay and lesbian elders are included, as are topics surrounding
grandparenting, caregiving, living situations, end-of-life care, and social policy issues impacting older adults.
Chapter 13
Looking Forward: Challenges and Opportunities for the Social Work Profession explores emerging trends
and issues that are affecting or will affect social workers and their clients. This chapter helps students think
about current and further challenges that will change the shape of problems clients face and the ways in which
the profession approaches these problems. The chapter also explores the opportunities that will be created in
the wake of these trends. Issues that are discussed in this chapter include climate change, growing health and
economic disparities, demographic shifts, technological advances, global violence, and shifting cultural views
on social issues.
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Interactive Cases
The website www.routledgesw.com/cases presents six unique, in-depth, interactive, fictional cases with
dynamic characters and real-life situations that students can easily access from any computer. They provide a
“learning by doing” format unavailable with any other text. Your students will have an advantage unlike any
other they will experience in their social work training. Each of the interactive cases uses text, graphics, and
video to help students learn about engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation and termination at
multiple levels of social work practice. The “My Notebook” feature allows students to take and save notes, type
in written responses to tasks, and share their work with classmates and instructors by email. These interactive
cases allow you to integrate the readings and classroom discussions:
The Sanchez Family: Systems, Strengths, and Stressors: The ten individuals in this extended Latino family
have numerous strengths but are faced with a variety of challenges. Students will have the opportunity to
experience the phases of the social work intervention, grapple with ethical dilemmas, and identify strategies for
addressing issues of diversity.
Riverton: A Community Conundrum: Riverton is a small Midwest city in which the social worker lives and
works. The social worker identifies an issue that presents her community with a challenge. Students and
instructors can work together to develop strategies for engaging, assessing, and intervening with the citizens of
the social worker’s neighborhood.
Carla Washburn: Loss, Aging, and Social Support: Students will get to know Carla Washburn, an older
African-American woman who finds herself living alone after the loss of her grandson and in considerable
pain from a recent accident. In this case, less complex than that of the Sanchez family, students will apply their
growing knowledge of gerontology and exercise the skills of culturally competent practice.
RAINN: Rape Abuse and Incest National Network: The RAINN Online Hotline links callers to local Rape
Crisis Centers and hospitals, as well as other services. In addition, rape crisis telephone hotlines have played an
important role in extending services to those in communities in which services are not available. Students will
learn how and why this national hotline was developed; they will evaluate both qualitative and quantitative
data to assess how the program can better achieve its goals.
Hudson City: An Urban Community Affected by Disaster: Hudson City has just been devastated by
Hurricane Diane, a category four hurricane with wind speeds of 140 miles per hour. Students will take up the
role of a social worker who also resides in the community, who has been tasked with finding workable
solutions to a variety of problems with diverse clients. Students will learn about disaster response and how to
focus on many clients at once.
Brickville: Families and Communities Consider Transitions: Brickville is a low-income community faced
with a development proposal that would dramatically change the community. Students will take the role of a
social worker who lives in the community and works for a community development corporation. Students will
learn about community development and approaches that can be used to empower community members. This
book takes full advantage of the interactive element as a unique learning opportunity by including exercises
that require students to go to the Web and use the cases. To maximize the learning experience, you may want
to start the course by asking your students to explore each case by activating each button. The more the
students are familiar with the presentation of information and the locations of the individual case files, the
Case Study Tools, and the questions and tasks contained within each phase of the case, the better they will be
able to integrate the text with the online practice component.
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30
In Sum
When presented as separate issues, all of the aforementioned developmental topics can seem overwhelming to
students, particularly when they realize they have to keep at hand all their knowledge when working with
clients. However, all of these topics, as well as other topics that are discussed, are set in a framework that will
help students to think about the types of problems their clients might be likely to face at different phases in life.
Students will also learn that organizing their knowledge about these areas into a theoretical context that
“makes sense” to them will help them to manage the seemingly endless stream of information at their disposal.
Ultimately, then, students will become more and more proficient at applying concepts to client problems.
Meanwhile, students can enjoy the process of learning about them.
Being an effective social worker means being able to understand the complexities of human behavior, the
societies and cultures in which we live, and the interplay between them. Being an effective social worker also
means having a solid grounding in various disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, and human biology. It
means possessing a well-rounded education and an ability to apply this knowledge to the myriad client
problems and situations that students will face in the profession. This edition is intended to help students
understand this complexity in the field and to help them gain the knowledge and critical thinking skills they
will need to practice social work.
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Acknowledgments
I owe my gratitude to all the social work students I have known since the beginning of my career, for their
questions, musings, and insights, and for pushing me to think about what it means to be a social worker. They
are the inspiration for this book. I would like to extend my thanks to Y. C. Lin, Paige Reohr, and Sophia Vies,
students at the University of Portland, who gave a great deal of their time and energy to help me with revisions
of this book. Similarly, Rayne Funk, administrative assistant to the Social Work Program, was extremely
helpful in the production of this book. Without her, most of my work would be impossible. I would also like to
give a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Joseph Gallegos, my former colleague at the University of Portland, for all his
support and mentorship. Finally, this book is dedicated to Sookie, my long-time pet therapy companion who
brought me and countless others years of joy and comfort. May she rest in peace after all her hard work.
A big thank you goes to Samantha Barbaro, Shannon LeMay-Finn, and Melinda Kay Lewis for their time,
energy, and insights as well as their editorial and writing assistance. The project coordinator, Melinda Kay
Lewis, and the other authors of the book series, Rosemary Chapin, Marla Berg-Weger, Jerry Finn, and Judy
Krysik have been great sources of inspiration and motivation. I have appreciated their feedback and insights
throughout the process of writing this book. I am grateful to the editors and staff at Routledge, whose input
was invaluable in helping me to move the book forward in a meaningful way, and to the reviewers of the book.
Finally, I want to thank Tammy Rogers for her unwavering show of enthusiasm and encouragement for my
work, and my family, Jim Koch, Olivia, and Grady, for their support, patience, and tolerance for my endeavors.
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About the Author
Anissa Taun Rogers, PhD, MSW, MA, LCSW is Professor of Social Work at the University of Portland in
Portland, Oregon, where she serves as Director of the Social Work Program and co-founder of the Gender and
Women’s Studies Minor. She teaches courses across the social work curriculum as well as courses on gender,
gerontology, sexuality, and international social work. She also maintains a private practice, working primarily
with older adults.
Before finding her way to social work, Dr. Rogers studied psychology, in which she earned undergraduate
and graduate degrees. After receiving her MSW and PhD in social work, Dr. Rogers began her career in
undergraduate social work education and clinical practice. In addition to teaching, her main clinical and
research interests are gender, sexuality, gerontology, mental health, and end-of-life care.
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Chapter 1
Human Behavior and the Social Work Profession
Janice is a single, 25-year-old veteran who just returned from serving for one year in Afghanistan. She is
having trouble finding a job and is struggling to support herself. Although Janice wants to work, she
finds it difficult because of the depressed economy in her town, her lack of job skills, and several health
problems. Among other symptoms, Janice suffers from severe migraine headaches and symptoms of
PTSD, and she has trouble sleeping and concentrating. The stress caused by unemployment, by health
problems, and by the experiences she had while serving in the army has caused Janice to wish sometimes
that she could find a way out and not feel so bad all the time.
JANICE’S STORY EXEMPLIFIES THE COMPLEXITY OF HUMAN problems. When you carefully examine her
situation, you will probably identify several major issues: health problems, potential mental health issues,
developmental issues associated with her age, effects of policies and programs (such as those established
through the Veterans administration that dictate which services veterans can access), cultural expectations of
self-sufficiency, lack of access to affordable housing, and inequities and challenges related to employment.
Rarely in social work will you find yourself working with people whose problems are straightforward.
Regardless of the type of agency in which you work or the population with which you work, you will find
people’s problems to be multifaceted and interconnected on many different levels. Because the human
condition is so complex, social workers need to seek a solid, knowledge-based understanding of human
behavior in the context of the social environment.
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Defining “Human Behavior in the Social Environment”
No single definition for “human behavior in the social environment” exists. Nevertheless, the social work
profession agrees on the importance of understanding how individuals interact both with other people and
with their environment, as well as understanding how individuals are affected by these interactions. This is
because human behavior cannot be viewed or understood in a vacuum; not only is human behavior in and of
itself complex, but we all influence and are influenced by the environments in which we live.
The council on social Work Education (CSWE), the body that accredits undergraduate and graduate social
work programs, requires that programs prepare students to apply knowledge of human behavior and the social
environment. This is how the CSWE (2015, p.8) articulates its policy:
Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge to
facilitate engagement with clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
Social workers use this knowledge in their work with clients—from assessments to evaluations of intervention
—and this knowledge is based in and supports the core value system of the profession, which we discuss later
in the chapter. This means that social workers must have the ability to critique knowledge that they use and
apply in their practice (council on social Work education, 2015). Here, students will learn about the
interrelationships between individual behavior and the larger social environments.
Exhibit 1.1 illustrates the concept of human behavior in the social environment. Each circle represents a level
of practice on which social workers might focus. This visualization also shows you how the different areas of
people’s lives and environments can intersect. The intersections are those areas in which social workers
generally focus their assessments and interventions.
Depending on the agency or population, however, social workers sometimes move outside the overlapping
areas to focus on issues related to a specific circle or realm. For
Exhibit 1.1 Conceptualization of Human Behavior in the Social
Environment
example, a social worker might be employed to conduct mental health assessments for children. Her main
focus thus would be on the individual level, specifically each child’s mental health issues. Nevertheless, she
would probably still consider issues in the realm of family and small groups and the realm of society and larger
forces. For instance, as she is assessing the child’s functioning, she may attend to issues relating to the child’s
family, peers, school, economic status, cultural background, and so on. Moreover, she might consider other
factors on the individual level besides mental health, such as the child’s coping skills, intellectual development,
and physical health. The complexities and intricacies of this conceptualization should become clearer to you as
you move through this chapter and the remainder of the book.
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Learning about human behavior in the social environment will help you to place your knowledge into a
meaningful and coherent context as you work with clients, organizations, and communities. It will challenge
you to use your existing knowledge of human behavior and social environments while incorporating new ideas
and perspectives on the human condition. It will give you more complex ways to think about assessment and
intervention, which in turn will help you to become a more creative and effective social worker.
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Understanding how Knowledge and Theory Inform Social Work
As a profession, social work tends to generate, draw from, and apply knowledge based in strengths,
empowerment, and social justice tenets. At the same time, however, it is also inclined to incorporate
knowledge from many different disciplines that may not explicitly adhere to these tenets. Knowledge in this
context refers to a wide range of information such as theories, empirical research, and practical experience that
might be generated from different disciplines.
Given the complexity of individuals’ lives and the multifaceted nature of the problems that clients bring to
the working relationship, social workers need to have a broad knowledge base in many different areas—such as
politics, biology, psychology, sociology, and economics—and they need to understand how aspects from these
different realms interact with and influence one another in ways that affect the well-being of individuals,
families, and communities. In other words, social workers must be able to think comprehensively and
creatively and to access their knowledge and “pull it all together” to assess and intervene with client problems.
Further, because social work is concerned with social justice and the dignity and worth of people, among
other values, social workers must understand how to incorporate strength-based and empowerment concepts
into their work. This is why a strong liberal arts base in your education is so helpful. The more you know
about different areas such as history, government, and philosophy, for example, the better the foundation you
will have for conceptualizing and intervening with client problems.
You can also be more helpful when working with a client if you are familiar with some basic facts or
updated research on the particular problem with which the client is struggling. For example, when working
with clients who suffer from trauma, social workers need to be familiar with current research and knowledge
on how the body and brain respond to and process traumatic experiences. Similarly, social workers can more
effectively bridge cultural divides between themselves and their clients if they have a knowledge base of
others’ cultural perspectives and experiences. Other times, you can use your knowledge to offer a client a
different viewpoint on a particular problem, no matter how technical or philosophical, to give the client a new
way to think about the problem. These are situations in which your familiarity with different theories of
human behavior will be useful.
To see the benefits of drawing on a broad knowledge base, let us consider how practitioners from other
disciplines might approach Janice’s situation:
• A physician might be concerned only with identifying and alleviating Janice’s physical symptoms.
Interventions may center solely on restoring Janice to physical health or, at least, removing
evidence of disease.
• A psychologist might attend only to the individualistic or psychological aspects of Janice’s case.
These might include her symptoms of PTSD, her potential for developing depression or other
mental illness, her emotional and cognitive development, her issues of self-esteem and selfefficacy, and her ability to adjust to civilian life. After pinpointing these problems, the
psychologist might focus on improving Janice’s functioning in these areas.
• An economist or politician might concentrate on employment prospects, economic conditions of the
community, and the costs of supporting Janice through social services. Economic interventions
would include activities to improve employment conditions in the community and to curb costs by
reducing the amount of time that Janice might need to rely on veterans’ or other services.
• A sociologist might be interested in examining the larger social and cultural dynamics that
contribute to unemployment and other problems for returning soldiers. Interventions might
include helping Janice adapt to cultural expectations of employment or working to change
societal attitudes toward poverty and returning service members.
Although all of these perspectives are important, considering them in isolation contributes little to
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understanding the scope and complexity of Janice’s problems. Even more importantly, interventions
narrowly focused on any of these single perspectives are likely to be less effective than those that consider
the interactions among different aspects of Janice’s overall well-being.
The Role of Theory
Given the deeply human issues that are addressed by social workers, and the profession’s roots in charity
societies, “theory” and “empirical knowledge” may sound overly scientific and out of place. However, when
working with clients, social workers need theory to help pull sources of information together into a meaningful
perspective. They need to understand basic theories in different areas, how theories can be applied to problems,
and how theories’ limitations can affect their explanations of problems. And then they need to back up those
theories with knowledge based in research.
A theory is a set of ideas or concepts that, when considered together, help to explain certain phenomena and
allow people to predict behavior and other events. Theories differ from other types of knowledge in that they
allow you to organize knowledge on a particular issue or topic. If theories are well developed, they provide a
blueprint for testing hypotheses or hunches about behavior and other phenomena, predicting certain events,
and validating assumptions and knowledge about certain issues.
Without theories, knowledge about human behavior and social issues would remain unwieldy; you would
not be able to make connections among related facts and information to form ideas that could help you
advance your knowledge about human behavior and social issues. A variety of theories can help social workers
organize information and make sense of certain problems.
Theories can offer social workers contexts from which to approach problems with the confidence that
interventions are sound. Of course, some theories are more valid and useful than others, but part of being a
skilled social worker is knowing how to evaluate theories for their strengths and limitations and how to apply
them responsibly. This includes thinking about how theories may systematically exclude different groups of
people or marginalize their experiences. As you read about theories in this book, ask yourself how they could
be more inclusive in their perspectives on human development and the human experience.
It is important to keep in mind that the terms theory, model, approach, and perspective often are used
interchangeably. Like theories, these other terms refer to ideas, structures, and conceptualizations that help
social workers organize information. They provide ways to visualize and think about problems and issues.
However, unlike theories, they lack some of the necessary elements that allow for empirical testing of
hypotheses and constructs. Those elements will be discussed later in the chapter. Here, it is important to
emphasize the need for critical examination of any structure social workers use to organize information in
their helping roles with others.
Theoretical Lenses
Because social work touches on so many aspects of human behavior, its practitioners have a large variety of
theories to draw on—both our own and theories developed in other disciplines. Thus, you will find it helpful to
think about theories in broad categories based on which aspects of human behavior they address. For example,
does a theory explain personality development or economic development? Does it explain causes of racism or
causes of obsessive-compulsive behavior?
You will see by looking at this book’s table of contents that chapters 2 through 5 are organized in categories,
or by “theoretical lenses,” to help you focus on various aspects of human behavior. Chapter 2 discusses broad
organizing theories used in social work, while chapters 3, 4, and 5 focus on theories that are more specific to
three aspects of the human experience. Each set of theories offers a different theoretical lens through which to
view problems.
This is just one way to organize the many theories with which social workers are likely to come in contact.
Another way would be to group theories in terms of whether they address individual, familial, or larger social
issues or some combination of these. Alternatively, theories can be grouped into subcategories according to the
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specific area or problem that they address. For instance, some theories explain personality development, while
others address social development. Some theories explain how social change occurs, while others explain why
social dysfunction is resistant to change. As you read the next few chapters, keep in mind that theories of
human behavior can be organized in many different ways, depending on your purpose and perspective.
Interactions of Theories
As you can see in Exhibit 1.2, sometimes concepts from different theoretical frameworks overlap; theories can
explain aspects of problems
Exhibit 1.2 Theoretical Interactions in Social Work
Source: Adapted from Bertalanffy, 1972; Brandell, 1997; Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2004
in different realms. For example, theories that address how children and their caregivers establish attachments
to one another might be informed by theories that explain how individuals in a relationship interact with one
another, how they perceive these interactions, and how attachments impact these interactions. Attachments
and interactions can also be explained by broader family system dynamics. Social workers’ understanding of
learning processes can be augmented by an understanding of how family systems may impact the development
of individual members. Similarly, understanding of family systems might be improved by theories addressing
social justice (for example, to improve access to resources that support families), which can indirectly impact
the nature and quality of attachments, interactions, and learning that take place within families. Of course,
these are only a few of the many ways in which theories might be used in combination to help explain various
problems that occur at individual, familial, and social levels.
As another example of how theories might overlap, a social worker who works with Janice could rely on
various theories that explain not only individual development and functioning but also social problems
and change. Because some of Janice’s problems surrounding unemployment are interrelated with
problems such as physical health, experiences in combat, and larger social forces such as the economy, the
social worker can incorporate theoretical concepts from all of these areas to better explain how dynamics
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on different levels contribute to Janice’s situation, as well as to develop interventions that will help to
address her needs.
For many social workers, the sheer amount of knowledge that is available for use with clients can seem
overwhelming at times. Keep in mind that many disciplines have well-known, established theories whose
concepts tend to be used more than others. One approach is to learn these theories well and then expand your
knowledge of other theories depending on the type of agency, population, and presenting challenges with
which you will be working.
To augment theoretical knowledge, social workers also acquire a lot of knowledge about problems (such as
facts, statistics, new research findings) from their experience, education, and other sources that can inform
their thinking. Thus, problem conceptualization and intervention in social work are part of a dynamic process.
Social workers’ thinking needs to be flexible as they work with clients because there can be many different
ways to work toward problem-solving. As you read about theories in the next several chapters, think about
different aspects of social work for which these theories might be useful. You might come up with better ways
to group or conceptualize theories that are more meaningful to you and that you can use in practice.
The Debate about Empirical Knowledge and Practical Knowledge
There are many ways to gain knowledge and develop theories in the social work discipline, and there has been
considerable debate over the years about which methods are best. One way is through practical knowledge, or
practice-based wisdom, which is knowledge generated from experience and informal observations. The
experience that we gain as we go through life contributes to this knowledge. How we construct our reality and
perceptions of things is often based on the types of experiences we have. These experiences allow us to feel that
we “know” things. Historically, social work was rooted in charity and volunteerism, so social workers (or their
predecessors) relied almost exclusively on experiential or practical knowledge.
Only recently did social work practice become more rationalized and scientific, with an emphasis on
empirical knowledge, or knowledge based in observable fact (Fischer, 1981). As the disease model emerged in
the medical field, other disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, and economics, also began using more
scientific methods to advance knowledge and theory. Similarly, the new standard in social work became
science-based knowledge, which is developed over time through the process of research and investigation,
using objective methods to test hypotheses.
The scientific approach allows practitioners, with some degree of reliability and accuracy, to generalize their
knowledge beyond single-client cases. It also allows social work theorists to modify existing theories and
develop new ones that might explain issues more accurately. The movement among social workers to use more
scientific approaches has also been driven by a trend toward evidence-based practice, or social workers’
increased responsibility to document that their interventions are effective.
Despite the trend toward science-based knowledge, there is considerable debate about how much the social
work profession can and should rely on empirical and theory-based knowledge given the complexity of human
behavior (osmond & o’connor, 2006; parton, 2000; sheppard, 1998; smith, meyers, & cook, 2014). On one end of
the continuum is the idea that social workers must have some kind of guiding conceptualization of client
challenges, which can support empirical testing of interventions, which can lead to the modification of
theoretical conceptions and ideas and, ultimately, to better and more effective interventions (simon & thyer,
1994). On the other end is the tradition of practice-based argument, which entails building knowledge and
theory based on practice experiences. One argument against it, however, is that it tends to be anecdotal and
ambiguous and cannot always be generalized to new situations. In addition, although practice-based
knowledge can be based on theoretical foundations, it often is not subjected to controlled tests to verify how
valid and reliable it may be for work with clients outside of a particular practice context.
Despite these limitations, practice-based knowledge certainly has value. Throughout practitioners’ careers,
they might work with thousands of people, giving them rich insights into various issues and problems. And
practice-based knowledge can lead to hunches, questions, and curiosity about various problems, which can
lead to scientific exploration—which in turn can generate science-based knowledge and the development of
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theories.
Another approach that lies on the practice-based knowledge end of the continuum is social work based in
“unknowing.” While “knowing” is aligned with science-based knowledge and evidence-based practice (for
example, we know, from empirical evidence, what interventions tend to be the most effective for certain
problems), approaching work with clients from an “unknowing” stance suggests that people’s challenges and
behaviors are inherently unpredictable and the contexts in which people live are complex and diverse. This
includes the idea that social workers must work from a place of cultural humility, which entails a process of
understanding culture through maintaining continuous curiosity and openness about others and committing to
lifelong learning and self-reflection on our own culture, power, and privilege (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia,
1998). In essence, cultural humility is a form of the “unknowing” stance. More on cultural competence and
humility will be discussed in Chapter 4. Further, interactions we have with clients are dynamic and continually
changing, shaping future interactions and the therapeutic relationship. Thus, social workers must remain open
to the unpredictable and realize that knowledge of a client and various issues is only general at best. For
example, we can’t possibly know, for certain, what the outcomes will be for individual clients based on
preconceived notions from established knowledge (Blom, 2009).
From this standpoint, social workers must remain deliberately unknowing in their work; they need to be
reflective about what they think they know and willing to set it aside. The practice of unknowing doesn’t
imply that we forget all we know or never employ theoretical models and evidence-based practices. Rather, it
suggests that while knowledge can help guide our work and should be utilized when warranted, practicing
unknowing is a way to assess situations comprehensively and not exclude any possibilities as we work with
people. If we adhere to a predefined way of viewing situations based on our knowledge, our work is at risk of
becoming routinized, and we miss the richness and diversity of human lives and behavior. We operate from a
false sense of surety that all decisions can be made logically and predictably. Proponents of this viewpoint
would argue that good social work practice should maintain a balance between knowing and unknowing to
challenge rigid assumptions about what we think we know based on science and embrace new possibilities for
our work and outcomes with people (Blom, 2009; Håkansson, 1982; Morén, 1994).
You will see similarities between this approach and some of the other theories We’ll cover in this book and
methods you’ll find employed in social work practice, such as Carl Rogers’ idea of “starting where the client is”
in person-centered therapy; principles in feminist theory that challenge established knowledge and promote
different ways of knowing; and techniques in interviewing that require taking an unknowing stance in our
work with people to avoid making assumptions or working off of bias and stereotypes.
The Quality of Knowledge and Theory
To make matters more complicated, there are yet more debates within the social work discipline about what
kinds of knowledge are appropriate for practice. Should you rely on practical or experiential knowledge, even if
its effectiveness cannot be proved? alternatively, should you rely on experts, even if what they say does not
seem to fit with the problems of your clients?
Everyone, not just social workers, faces the issue of the validity of her or his knowledge. For instance, how
do you know you can rely on information given to you by those you know? Who is an expert? Do you
consider celebrities, athletes, and the media to be experts? How might your culture influence your assessment
of various facts and ideas? How do your own values and beliefs bias the knowledge that you seek or the way in
which you interpret it?
Social workers confront many other questions about the quality of knowledge and theory as well. Some
researchers argue that many of the theories taught in social work curricula and from which social work
borrows are outdated and ineffective for social work practice. They point out that many constructs or concepts
in these theories have not been (and probably cannot be) supported through empirical research. They point to
various limitations in the development of many theories, making them biased and inappropriate for use with
people who come from diverse situations. For instance, freud’s theory of psychosexual development and
piaget’s theory on cognitive development were developed in specific times and cultural contexts. At best, such
theories need additional testing to understand how well they help to explain problems of contemporary clients
who come from contexts other than the typical eurocentric ones in which these theories were developed and
41
often are employed.
Then there is the question of social work values (discussed later in the chapter), which are difficult to
measure and observe. What role should they play in applying knowledge to your work? If some of the
knowledge used in practice is potentially biased or suffers from other problems, is it ethical to use it in work
with clients? All of these questions have implications for the effectiveness of social work and, indeed, the
legitimacy of our profession.
Given the myriad theories from which to learn and choose when practicing social work, as well as the
ongoing debates about the utility of learning one or more theories (or even learning any theory at all), where
do you go from here? One place to begin to tackle these issues is to think about how to equip yourself with
skills to critically analyze knowledge, toward an assessment of what is valid and what is not. An
understanding of the characteristics of a useful theory—and well-designed empirical research that assists in
theory development—can help you to wade through the flood of knowledge that you will encounter as you
move through your career.
There are a lot of ways to judge the accuracy and applicability of knowledge, particularly theoretical and
empirically based knowledge. And there are a lot of ideas about what makes knowledge “good,” or valid for
practice. Quick Guide 1 displays
Quick Guide 1 Evaluative Criteria for Theory
When judging the usefulness of a theory, think about the following criteria:
• Is it functional? Does it clearly explain how concepts are related to one another and to the
phenomenon it is trying to explain?
• Is it strong? Is it able to make certain predictions about behavior that can be confirmed through
empirical observation?
• Is it parsimonious? Do the theory’s concepts explain a lot about the phenomenon in clear, simple,
and straightforward terms?
• Is it falsifiable? Can it be tested and refuted by empirical observation?
• Does it make practical sense? Does it inform your work with clients and relate to what you
already know about various phenomena?
• Is it philosophically sound? Do the philosophical underpinnings of the theory fit with and promote
social work values and ethics?
Source: Adapted from Bertalanffy, 1972; Brandell, 1997; Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2004.
some basic guidelines for evaluating theoretical knowledge. These guidelines are generally accepted in many
disciplines as the standards by which to determine the quality, usefulness, and applicability of theories in
explaining certain phenomena (Homans, 1967; Lenski, 1988; popper, 1959). A theory that meets these criteria is
likely to offer information that allows you to reasonably predict and explain behavior in a way that will help
you develop appropriate and effective interventions for your clients.
you should also be aware that people make all kinds of judgments when they conduct research to develop
theories and generate knowledge about social and other issues. Consequently, there is a lot of room for bias,
error, and misinterpretation, which can affect the quality of research and its outcomes. When you evaluate
research, you need to be clear about factors such as which variables are being manipulated and controlled and
which have not been accounted for. You also need to recognize how researchers’ biases, values, methods, and
motives for doing research can influence outcomes. A number of human errors can affect the way research is
developed, carried out, interpreted, and applied to human situations. Here are some of the more common ones:
• Problems with observations: Human beings have notoriously faulty memories, and our own experiences
of events can be very unreliable. Moreover, we tend to look for evidence to support our assumptions
about certain phenomena, ignoring evidence that contradicts what we think we know.
• Overgeneralizations: We tend to assume that what we experience can be generalized to other people
42
and circumstances.
• Biases and value judgments: We often impose our own values, inclinations, expectations, and
experiences onto an event to help make sense of it.
• Lack of inquiry: We stop asking questions about an event because we think we understand it or have
pursued it sufficiently.
Any of these pitfalls can result in the development or perpetuation of faulty knowledge, which in turn can lead
to problems with accurately assessing and intervening with clients. For instance, many feminist scholars and
others working in minority research argue that, historically, a great deal of empirical and theoretical
knowledge that has been generated in social and other sciences has focused on the concerns of white males.
However, knowledge and theoretical developments coming from this research are often applied to other groups
(such as women and ethnic and sexual minorities). This does not take into consideration their biological,
cultural, economic, and other differences from white males, which might invalidate the use of this knowledge
with diverse groups (Reinharz, 1992; schiele, 2013; solomon, 1976). Many classic theories and empirical research
on human behavior have been criticized because of these pitfalls.
When evaluating empirical research that is being used to support or discredit a theory or that might be used
for practice, there are other questions to ask yourself, some of which are outlined in Quick Guide 2. Keeping
these criteria in mind and posing some well-thought-out questions as you read through the mounds of
information you will find in newspapers, on the internet, in agency and government reports, and even in
scholarly journals will help you to make some educated decisions about which information is appropriate to
use in your practice. The complexity of information about human behavior and social issues makes this sort of
scrutiny essential.
Quick Guide 2 Evaluative Criteria for Research
Some criteria to consider when evaluating research:
• How current is the information? If it is not current, is it likely to still be valid? Is there a good
reason why it has not been updated?
• Who is the intended audience? Is the research conducted for the purposes of a particular interest
group? Are the results biased to serve the needs of a particular group?
• Who is the author? What is the author’s expertise and affiliation?
• Are original sources of information listed? Can you locate original works cited by the author? Are
you given other sources where you can check facts and statements or do further research?
• Is the information peer reviewed? Have other experts in the field reviewed the information?
• Is the information biased? Does the language seem biased or slanted to suit particular purposes?
• What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, entertain, enlighten, sell, or
persuade?
In considering what information might be useful in Janice’s case, the social worker might want to think
about whether the theories and other knowledge used to work with Janice’s problems are appropriate. For
instance, some theories and other knowledge regarding PTSD might be biased toward male soldiers or
might not reflect the advances in understanding of PTSD in recent years. Theories and other knowledge
regarding unemployment might focus solely on individual responsibility while overlooking social
contributions to the problem. Practice experience could play a role as well. If the social worker has
extensive training in mental illness, the social worker might focus more on Janice’s physical and mental
issues and not attend as much to broader issues, such as a poor economy, which also may add to her
problems.
43
Theoretical Eclecticism
Social work is naturally informed by multidisciplinary knowledge. For example, social work with children and
families might borrow from psychological theory that deals with aspects of development and behavior change.
Social work with communities might rely on sociological theory that addresses group dynamics and social
change. Administrative social work might be heavily informed by economic or organizational theory.
Nevertheless, some social workers primarily adhere to a particular theory. For instance, some social workers
might describe themselves as behaviorists, psychoanalysts, or family system theorists. These theoretical
preferences tend to be influenced by the political and philosophical climate in which social workers received
their training (Saltman & Greene, 1993) as well as the contexts in which they work. Social workers’ tendencies
to use some theories more than others influence the ways they conceptualize clients’ problems, the ways in
which they move through assessment, and the types of interventions they choose.
There ere is considerable debate about whether social workers can be more effective when working with
clients if they are “pure theorists” who tend to rely on a single theory or if they are eclectic practitioners who
borrow ideas and constructs from several theories. Because of the scope of problems with which social workers
grapple, multiple theories do come in handy.
The Single Theory Argument
Proponents of adhering to a particular theory maintain that the sheer number of potentially useful theories
cannot be taught in sufficient depth for students to understand them adequately and apply them correctly in
practice (Simon & Thyer, 1994). To thoroughly understand the essence of a theory and to apply its constructs
effectively and appropriately, social workers must study and adhere to only that particular theory when
working with clients. For example, a social worker who uses behavioral theory to assess children’s behavior
problems needs to have a deep understanding of the underlying tenets of behaviorism (its history, developers,
applications, constructs, and limitations).
Proponents of using a single theory also argue that to remain valid, theories must be used as a whole; they
become invalid when only parts of them are used in isolation. For example, using just one behavioral technique
from behavioral theory—such as using timeouts in work with children—should not be done without using
other related techniques supported by behavioral theory. Using isolated parts of behavioral theory is especially
inadvisable if the person using the technique does not adequately understand the underlying assumptions of
behavior as explained through behavioral theory.
Other arguments along this line of thinking include the following (payne, 2016):
• Social workers get their training early in their careers and are likely to stick to the ways of thinking and
practice that they learned in school. Thus, they are unlikely to be familiar with new knowledge across
a range of theories and therefore cannot integrate this knowledge into their practice.
• There are no guidelines or rules about how to choose concepts from one theory or another, making the
use of different theories rather haphazard and unsystematic.
• Social workers are unlikely to get needed supervision on using multiple theories and techniques, so
relying on multiple techniques in practice can be risky.
• Because the underlying philosophies about human behavior tend to differ from one theory to the next,
trying to integrate their concepts may lead to disjointed practice or even contradictory applications.
The Argument for Eclecticism
The other side of the argument is that social work should not adhere to a “one theory fits all” policy. The
proponents of eclecticism state that because social work is concerned with people and problems on many
different levels, the need to be flexible and comprehensive is inherent in the work. If social workers try to use
one theory for all types of populations and problems, they will inevitably be ineffective. Some might even
argue that rigidly adhering to only one perspective can be oppressive to clients, forcing the unique
44
characteristics of clients and the human condition into a uniform mold.
Further, because uncertainty is a constant in the social sciences, particularly when it comes to human
behavior and social issues, relying on a single theory to explain all problems will cause social workers to miss
the bigger picture. Consequently, they will be more likely to misinterpret problems and apply inappropriate
interventions, potentially doing more harm than good for clients. Being eclectic, flexible, and comprehensive
allows social workers to be creative and resourceful in finding solutions to their clients’ myriad problems.
Indeed, some social workers argue that doubt, ambiguity, and uncertainty are hallmarks of the profession.
Thus, social workers should be equipped with a broad “toolbox” of theoretical knowledge to work effectively
with clients.
This line of thinking supports the idea that clients should benefit from all of the theoretical knowledge
available to social workers. And because every theory has its limitations, social workers need a wide array of
informational resources when working with clients. Social work processes such as intake (initial client
interviews and information gathering), relationship-building, assessment, planning, intervention, evaluation,
and follow-up are commonplace in many agency settings and working relationships. Relying on one approach
from one particular theoretical orientation might not be all that social workers need in certain circumstances or
at different places in the working relationship (payne, 2016).
One study took a closer look at the single theory versus eclecticism controversy. The researcher examined
the ways in which social workers’ theoretical biases might play out in practice (Saltman, 2002). The researcher
surveyed 175 social workers in Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies in the united states and canada. She
administered questionnaires and case vignettes to explore workers’ theoretical orientations and interventions
in practice. The respondents reported that they did not necessarily choose interventions whose theoretical
underpinnings were the same as their stated orientation. A majority (87.5 percent) of respondents reported
having a psychosocial orientation, for example, but they applied a family systems intervention to the case in
the vignette. According to the researcher, it may be that respondents were using theories that best “fit” clients’
problems rather than forcing the problems to fit respondents’ favored theories. In other words, respondents
probably were relying on practice knowledge, empirical knowledge, or both, rather than their personal
preferences, to guide their decisions about which theoretical approaches to use in their interventions.
Although results from studies like this one cannot tell us whether all social workers would respond to client
situations in the same way, they do help us to understand that social workers often rely on multiple theories
when working with clients. The results also suggest that other forces, such as the client, the agency, the
political sphere, and even popular opinion, might influence the theories that social workers use in their
interventions with clients. For example, a social worker might use a particular theory for a specific problem
because of recent empirical research that supports its effectiveness in addressing that problem. Similarly, an
agency or funding source may only pay for the use of treatments based on a particular theory or set of theories.
In these cases, social workers may be dealing with outside pressures to pick one theory over another, or even to
use certain constructs from multiple theories, regardless of their personal orientations or biases or even the
evidence supporting a particular theory’s applicability.
Regardless of which perspective you take on this debate, it is obvious that to be an effective social worker,
you must have at least a working knowledge of various theories that explain human development and
behavior. Without this knowledge, you will not be able to make informed decisions about how to use theory,
whether that means taking the eclectic approach or the single theory approach. Keep in mind, however, that
the educational and work settings in which you find yourself will dictate, to some extent, how theories get
used in practice. For example, some treatment programs for children with behavioral problems only use
behavioral theory in their interventions, while some social workers in private practice may only use Freudian
psychoanalysis. To be adaptable, as well as to serve clients ethically and responsibly, you need to understand
multiple theories as well as how to critically evaluate their effectiveness and appropriate use in different
contexts.
The Application of Theory and Knowledge in Social Work Practice
There are numerous approaches to social work practice that help to guide how social workers actually work
with people and systems in addressing their issues. Regardless of the approach employed, social workers need
45
to have a well-grounded knowledge base, know how to evaluate the effectiveness and validity of knowledge
and theory, and understand how knowledge and theory can potentially affect the helping process (both
positively and negatively). Often, the knowledge base and theoretical orientation of the social worker influence
the way in which the social worker engages with the client, focuses questions in assessment, develops
interventions for problems, and terminates and evaluates the process.
Let us look at the case of Janice to explore how this might work with two different social workers:
• One social worker might employ the strengths perspective to focus his assessment on the resources
and abilities Janice has to help her cope with her situation. He may then help Janice develop a
plan to use these resources and abilities more effectively to lighten her stress level and address
her health, mental health, and job-related problems. For example, he might point out that Janice
is motivated to seek out help (she keeps appointments with him) and has shown a great deal of
strength, bravery, and resiliency in her role as a member of the military. The social worker might
help Janice transfer these skills to the task of seeking out health and mental health care and job
training. The social worker would also bring in knowledge, research, and methods that inform his
utilization of the strengths perspective (described more thoroughly in Chapter 2).
• Another social worker might center her work in the disease model. She could focus her assessment
on the physical problems that Janice is having—the insomnia, the headaches, the symptoms of
PTSD—to determine how they are impacting her ability to follow through on finding employment
and the other responsibilities she has. The social worker may focus an intervention on assisting
Janice to get the health care she needs, which from this perspective (discussed in Chapter 3)
would help Janice solve her other problems.
Both social workers would keep in mind the goals of empowering Janice and working toward supporting
her integrity, dignity, and self-worth—regardless of the way in which they would go about working with
her.
Let us look at another example. This one shows how multiple knowledge bases and theoretical perspectives can
be combined to serve a client. In an agency serving a population of adults with developmental disabilities and
diagnosed mental illnesses, staff members have many different ways of understanding and working with
clients. One staff member helps her clients work on their family of origin issues. She favors the concepts in
Freud’s psychoanalytic theory and bases her work with clients on that theory. Another worker who uses
systems theory and the ecological approach to guide his work thinks it is important for clients to understand
and work with the rules, roles, and boundaries of the social systems with which they interact. Still another
worker who prefers the behavioral approach helps clients learn new skills by using modeling and rewards. All
three staff members are guided by the strengths-based approach. They all assess client strengths and use
existing supports in interventions they develop. The focus is on empowering clients and not just focusing on
problems; however, their views of clients’ challenges and their origins are strongly influenced by their
contrasting theoretical perspectives.
As you move through the book, take note of the theories that seem to resonate with you. What explanations
for human behavior seem to make sense for you? When you think about working with people and systems, do
you have a particular approach that seems to come to mind more often than another? What evidence are you
using to support your perspectives? Being aware of your own preferences and ways of looking at human
behavior is extremely important, as they influence how you go about your work.
46
Maintaining Social Work Values
The social work profession is unique in many ways from other helping professions, such as psychology. One
key difference involves the core values on which the social work profession is based. Regardless of the
knowledge base or theoretical perspective being applied, the social work profession strives to uphold values of
service, integrity, competency, social justice, the importance of human relationships, and the dignity and worth
of people in its approaches to individual and social problems. Ethical guidelines in the national association of
social Workers code of ethics are grounded in these values and also guide the work that social workers do
(National Association of Social Workers, approved 1996, revised 2017).
Because of these unique values, social workers are particularly concerned with ensuring that interventions
and approaches to work with people and systems are
Exhibit 1.3 Ethical Principles of Social Work Based on Core Values
CORE SOCIAL WORK
VALUES
Service
Social justice
Dignity and worth of the
person
Importance of human
relationships
Integrity
Competence
SOCIAL WORK ETHICAL PRINCIPLES
Help people in need and address social conditions and concerns.
Challenge social injustice.
Respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person.
Recognize the central importance of human
relationships.
Behave in a trustworthy manner.
Practice within areas of competence, and develop and enhance professional
expertise
culturally appropriate. Each person and system functions in a cultural context and is influenced by unique
cultural characteristics that help to define who that person or system is and how problems and solutions might
play out. Therefore, social workers are cognizant of cultural aspects that contribute to environmental contexts
of people and systems and how problems and solutions are perceived.
Social workers also focus more than most helping professions on the strengths that all people and systems
naturally possess. In social work, it is not sufficient to look only at problems when working with people and
systems. In addition, social work values dictate that it should be recognized that people and systems are
inherently resilient and possess skills and capabilities that allow them to persevere-despite problems that might
exist. Social workers actively look for, promote, and support the natural strengths within people and systems to
empower them to grow and thrive.
Whenever social workers incorporate knowledge or theory in their work, they are careful to ensure that the
core social work values and ethics are reflected. Throughout this book, core values and ethical guidelines (see
exhibit 1.3) are discussed as they pertain to different concepts.
47
Learning about Human Behavior and Social Work Practice
You can see how having a broad knowledge base in human behavior and the social environment can be useful
for social work practice. Social workers can never know enough about the many facets of human life.
Fortunately, courses in social work offer a foundation on which to apply knowledge of human behavior and to
build new knowledge that is more specifically related to various aspects of your work. This book has been
organized to fulfill that goal as well.
Relating Knowledge of Human Behavior to Other Social Work Courses
The overall objective of all social work courses is to help you develop competencies that are grounded in a
knowledge base that promotes best practices, cultural competency, and ethical practice. That knowledge base
relies heavily on the subject of this book: human behavior. The following are a few of the courses you will
encounter in the social work curriculum, with an indication of how they relate to the study of human behavior:
• Policy courses prepare you to develop, interpret, analyze, and apply social policies, which in turn
influence the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. You need to understand the
interrelationships between policy and human behavior and how to apply perspectives on social policy
to client problems. Policies help to shape the social environments in which people exist.
• Research courses are an important facet of social work education because they teach you how to
evaluate practice as well as how to incorporate research into practice for more effective results.
Research skills are the key to building theory and to ensuring that the approaches and outcomes built
on theory are effective. Moreover, social workers need to keep themselves up to date on research in
various fields that relate to their practice. New data or research on certain disorders or programs, for
example, is constantly being produced. Social workers must be able to evaluate this research to ensure
that it is sound and to understand how it can be used to inform practice.
• Practice courses rely heavily on theory to teach you empirically based practice methods for working
with clients. Depending on the level of the program (undergraduate or graduate), you will learn either
generalist theories or specific theories to help guide your assessments, planning, and interventions
with clients, agencies, and communities. Often, these courses are paired with your field experiences
and related seminars, which give you opportunities to apply your knowledge of human behavior and
various theoretical approaches to your work and to integrate your knowledge with your practical
experiences.
In addition to the core courses in the curriculum, social work programs also must incorporate certain
content into courses throughout the curriculum. These areas deal with diversity, populations at risk, and values
and ethics. All of these areas contribute to our understanding of human behavior and the social environment.
When you consider social problems that affect human development, you run into ethical issues, questions of
how diversity influences people and their surroundings, and how people can be marginalized by personal and
social problems and situations.
Framing the Study of Human Behavior through this Book’s Organization
This book is organized to help you think about how theory and other knowledge relate to human development
and social problems that affect people. It presents information sequentially, discussing theory first as a base on
which you can build your knowledge about specific issues related to human development. This chapter sets the
stage for thinking about knowledge and how it is applied to social wor…
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