Academic journal article Social Work

The Common Factors Model: Implications for Transtheoretical Clinical Social Work Practice

Academic journal article Social Work

The Common Factors Model: Implications for Transtheoretical Clinical Social Work Practice

Article excerpt

The contemporary direct practice social worker, working in a time of both theoretical and institutional flux, faces great challenges in integrating a growing and more complex practice knowledge base in his or her work. Social workers in clinical or direct service practice roles--96 percent of licensed social workers spend time in direct service work (NASW, Center for Workforce Studies, 2006)--are currently presented with multiple and potentially perplexing directives regarding best practices, including calls for evidence-based interventions (for example, see Reid & Colvin, 2005); a newer, related trend toward the use of practice guidelines (see Rosen & Proctor, 2003); ever-emerging practice models and perspectives; the dictates of managed care and increasing pressures for brief interventions; and both industry-wide and unique organizational mandates and constraints. Although each of these multiple directives might be used by social workers to support their practice, they do not constitute, in aggregate or in effect, a coherent model from which practitioners may conceptualize and enact their work. Although there is little research exploring the impact of these kinds of conflicting intellectual, economic, and political forces on practitioners, conscientious social workers may be challenged by these multiple and potentially conflicting directives and may also be unclear about how they might synthetically, coherently, and productively integrate them into their work. Paradoxically, in the context of so much direction, "What is good practice?" may be a particularly difficult question to answer these days.

Historically, social work has developed practice models that incorporated current knowledge and enabled practitioners to enact this knowledge with clarity and confidence. Social workers in the early 20th century embraced casework methods informed by psychodynamic theory, enriched and empowered by new understanding of the nature of the unconscious and other aspects of our inner psychological world. The functionalist model, developed in the 1940s, greatly helped social workers to understand the ways in which agency-based practice was shaped by its organizational context and to use this understanding in their work. The task-centered model (Reid & Shyne, 1969) helped workers to focus on practical and efficient forms of assistance for clients who were understood as needing relatively swift and action-oriented services that responded to their life conditions and their psychological realities. General systems theory (Hearn, 1969), and ecological models such as the life model (Germain & Gitterman, 1996), introduced to social work in the 1960s and 1970s, helped to incorporate in a powerful way the cardinal professional tenet of understanding the individual as transacting with and as a product of multiple, interacting personal and environmental forces. Shulman (2006) and others complemented this ecological focus with models featuring a micro-skill focus approach applicable to practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Other more recent practice models focus on specific social, cultural, or political aspects of human functioning, such as empowerment (Miley, O'Melia, & DuBois, 2007), client strengths (Saleebey, 2006), multiculturalism (Lum, 2007), and social justice (Finn & Jacobson, 2003). Concepts from these essential social work approaches continue to shape the practice of contemporary social workers.

Today, as social workers find themselves in the second century of professional development, there is an ever-expanding array of foundation practice methods that are learned and used by social workers in all areas of practice. We believe, however, that the current practice climate complicates and confuses the ways in which social workers are to integrate the various knowledge areas available to them in uniquely challenging ways, perhaps more so than at any other time in our history. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.