Engagement: The First of Four Steps in the Problem Solving Model of Social Work

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Engagement is considered one of the most important parts of working with a client. Coady and Lehmann (2008) consider engagement the first of four steps in the problem solving model of social work. Engagement can begin as early as the first over the phone contact or referral notification with the client. To become aware of the client’s background (ecology and life circumstances) is crucial part of this stage. It is also important for the social worker to become in tune with their own thoughts and beliefs when coming into contact with this client for the first time. After tuning into the client it is key for any social worker to make a client feel welcomed with a sense of warmth, empathy and respect. Too much empathy and warm, however,…show more content…
For some backgrounds, i.e. – Latinos, a social worker may be seen as an expert and not an equal. The ability to gauge a client’s understanding of authority is an important first step in the client-social worker relationship. This professional view of the social worker, as opposed to an equal looking to support and assist, can be traced back to Latino values. Becoming familiar with the client’s values is also of the utmost importance in developing a personal and professional relationship. This includes respecting my ability to make my own decisions, a commitment to my progress and the ability to work patiently through conflicting values and views. In addition, a respect and understanding of my background is of paramount. A client would appreciate is working with someone with a similar outlook on life. This similar outlook may be as simple as sharing a similar opinion on fitness or television. The ability to connect on a superficial way will help me be more open to speaking about deep seeded issues. Connecting to the client is, of course, a main part of the engagement phase. Using an empathic tone as Hepworth, Rooney, Dewberry Rooney et al. ( ) described a client’s ability to connect to the social worker. However, I feel as though occasionally this empathy is phony and unjustified. This is especially true for the first few sessions with a client. Even though the social worker may have time to review case notes and history, I do not feel as though using the

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