Techniques of social case work

Last Updated on July 17, 2024 by Muzammil Ijaz

Techniques of social casework

Techniques of social case work are the procedures of helping the client. They are the wherewithal through which the client gets the experience of being helped. The client may not perceive the procedures as specific units or characteristics of his/her contact with the social worker, but (s)he will generally experience the fact of being helped.


Supportive Techniques

The supportive techniques are indeed necessary, because they obviate the use of defenses by the client. The supportive techniques and the techniques that cater for the material and non-material needs, thus remove some of the obstacles for change. Most of the remaining obstacles can be removed by means of counseling, unless they are too deeply entrenched and also complicated by other factors.


  1. Acceptance

Acceptance is one of the basic techniques of helping. The abstract principle of acceptance is made a reality through the technique of acceptance. It is a way of approach, an ongoing disposition through which the client feels that (s)he is welcome to the social work agency and that the social worker wants to help him/her. Acceptance by the social worker is conveyed through words, the tone of the words and the overall behavior which is visible to the client. Further, it is characterized by the worker’s warmth and courtesy to the client, his/her demonstration of interest in the client, his/her geniality and cordiality. The way the client is received, given a seat and listened to, is important in creating an atmosphere of acceptance.


  1. Assurance

In certain contexts, the client needs assurance regarding the authenticity of his/her feelings and that (s)he will not be judged, or ostracized for his/her feelings. The client has to be helped to understand the difference between feelings and doing. One may feel murderously angry at another person but does not have to feel guilty as long as one does not commit the murder or do any other thing that causes harm to the person against whom (s)he has the angry feelings. Feelings of any kind are neither wrong nor blameworthy, but certain acts carried out under the force of feelings can be unlawful and wrong because of the harm it causes others. For example; In the SOCR, there were a few female clients who had told the social workers at one time or the other that there were times when they wished that their alcoholic husbands were dead. The common observation was that, after making this angry statement they felt embarrassed and guilty. The social workers were not shocked at hearing such statements nor were they inclined to reprimand the client for expressing such feelings. But they were accepting and assuring in their responses that conveyed the message: “I can understand your feelings of anger. It is human and natural to have these feelings in such circumstances”.

  1. Facilitation of Expression of Feelings

It has been stated before that for the client, the expression of feelings is necessary; it is now added that facilitation of expression of feelings becomes a technique for the social worker. The accepting attitude on the part of the social worker does make it easy for the client to vent his/her feelings. Strong feelings, when bottled up, can create blocks in thinking and thus impair one’s problem

solving abilities. Feelings like anger, guilt, sorrow, despair, and such others consume considerable mental energy, leaving very little for problem solving. Hence, it is necessary for the client who is carrying a load of emotional material, to unburden himself/herself. The social worker by careful listening, by asking appropriate questions and by refraining from judgmental statements, facilitates expression of feelings by the client. The social worker acts as a prompter and prodder.


  1. Accrediting and Building of Self-Confidence

It has to be remembered that the social worker cannot take over the client’s problem, however helpless the client may be. All techniques should be directed towards making the client an active participant in problem solving, and for that, the client needs to develop self-confidence. Pointing out the client’s strengths and giving him/her due credit for the tasks (s)he has been able to perform successfully, is helpful in building up self-confidence.


  1. Encouragement and Reassurance

Encouragement and reassurance need to be used to clients’ advantage in casework. It is a common experience of social workers that clients are generally reluctant to do unfamiliar things without strong encouragement, albeit doing such things is necessary to improve the situation.


  1. Emotional Support

All the techniques presented and discussed in this and preceding pages constitute the supportive techniques in casework. They provide emotional sustenance to the client and are used with the goal of making the client fully affirmed and sufficiently strengthened to take the next step. Giving emotional support is a term commonly used in social work parlance, with the speaker using the term to mean as if it were a single technique. Realistically

speaking, the term refers to a cluster of techniques, that is, a combination of all or some of the techniques discussed above. Therefore, emotional support may be considered as a multiple technique. Emotional support, when effectively used, makes the client hopeful, bolsters his morale and sets the stage ready for his participation in problem solving. Almost all clients need emotional support in order that they may feel comfortable with the social worker, the agency and themselves to be able to use help to handle their difficulties.


  1. Change of Physical Environment

The change of physical environment is another technique which will be necessary for some clients for better functioning. For example; some of the children who were referred to the community centers for poor academic performance were children who had no facilities at home for quiet study. Their dwelling places were often overcrowded with too many persons living in a small area of space and there was no nook or corner where they could sit and read. Arranging a place for them which they could use for a few hours every day for study was helpful. Even these small changes demanded persistent efforts on the part of the social workers. Effecting more substantial changes like finding a place of accommodation for clients who were pavement dwellers was beyond the capacity of the social worker, though in a few cases, plots for huts could be procured in slums.


  1. Enhancing Information and Knowledge

Imparting knowledge, like any other casework technique is used according to the needs of the situation and the client. In these situations the social worker’s role is almost like that of a teacher, teaching about human needs, relationships and how parents could involve themselves in growth producing relationships. But the teaching in

casework practice has to be carried out in an indirect manner without making the client self-conscious or uncomfortable about his lack of knowledge.


Counseling Techniques

In a broader sense, counseling techniques are inclusive of the supportive techniques because in the beginning phase of the social worker-client transactions, use of supportive techniques is necessary for initiating a positive relationship. They are presented as two categories to highlight the fact that with regard to some client’s casework service does not go beyond the application of supportive techniques and the techniques for enhancing resources. When they are considered as two sets of techniques the meaning becomes clear with the statement that, counseling techniques are always preceded by one or more of the supportive techniques. But supportive techniques are not always followed by counseling techniques. Counseling techniques helps client in such a way that the client find him/herself capable of dealing with problems at present. Counseling may also solve the problems of the client in the near future.

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  1. Reflective Discussion

Reflective discussion is discussion between the social worker and the client based upon the client’s deep thinking on the different areas of his/her life that have a bearing upon his/her problem. Most of the problems of living need thinking through, for finding constructive solutions. At one point or other, in the social worker-client relationship, the client has to be enabled to view his/her problem objectively by separating the actualities of the situation from the feelings and impressions surrounding it. There is a need to look at the various aspects of the problem, its antecedents and the likely consequences. It may be necessary to trace the development of the problem and be aware of the parts

played by self and others, knowingly or unknowingly. Then, there is the question of what can be done now? By means of appropriate questions, empathetic remarks, and statements linking the various elements of the problem, the social worker should be able to draw out the client’s capacity for thinking and to help him/her to reflect upon the different aspects of the situation. Reflective discussion as a multiple technique may span a part or the whole of one or more interviews.


  1. Advice

Advice is a technique in counseling. In casework literature, most of which has originated from the West, advice is not ranked high in the list of techniques for various reasons. But it is used considerably, and with advantage in casework practice in India and some other country. In the Indian socio-cultural tradition, advice is something which is sought, given and accepted without misgivings. Social work clients do ask for advice and even at times when it is not asked, it may be given or provided, it is given objectively, is based on sound knowledge and on the client’s genuine need for it. There is also the condition that advice-giving is not followed by any attempt of coercion or compulsion to make the client follow the advice. Advice-giving can avoid the bad flavor that is often associated with it, by the social worker’s thoughtful act of initiating reflective discussion on the matter advised. Take the question of family planning. Many clients with large families struggling with problems of poverty will need advice on family planning. But it is not just a message conveyed by the social worker to clients; it is a matter that has to be discussed. The client will have queries needing answers and anxieties that need to be allayed.

  1. Motivation

Closely connected with advice is ‘motivation’, (a multiple technique) a term which is commonly heard in the field of family planning. One who advises guides and finally persuades a man to undergo sterilization operation is called a motivator. In casework, motivation refers to influencing the client to take a course of action that is considered good for him and his family, or that is necessary for solving the problem he faces. Expectedly, some clients respond normally to the social worker’s techniques of advising, informing, and imparting knowledge by doing according to the line of action indicated. Here, the implication is that the emotional readiness to act in a new way happens by way of a chain reaction. There are, however, clients who listen and participate attentively in the casework interview and even decide to take up a course of action but fail in the last step that is, actually doing. They cannot get themselves to the doing part. The emotional readiness to act in a new way is not there. In such cases, the social worker may have to provide additional stimulation, inducement or spurring to activate the client. Then the entire process of advising, discussing, informing, teaching and spurring becomes motivation.

  1. Clarification

In some contexts, clarification is called for before the client can be motivated for a particular line of action. Clarification means conceptually disentangling the various factors of a situation, to render it more comprehensible to the client. It would involve explicating one or more elements of the situation that are not perceived correctly by the client. For Example, There was the case of Shirin. She was a prostitute and she was unwilling to go for a medical test for sexually transmitted diseases. Clarification of the factors linking prostitution to the disease was necessary before she could agree to take the test.

  1. Modeling

Clients do learn from what the social worker says and also from what (s)he does. Since the social worker converses purposefully and responsibly, some clients learn helpful and constructive ways of communication from their experience of the social worker’s pattern of communication. When the social worker presents a prototype of behavior with the idea that, the client may learn new forms of speaking and doing, it is the modeling technique at work.