Influence and Change, Types of Social Worker-Client Relationships - Ethical Principles of Social Work

Influence and change

In the course of social work, influence and change are exercised. An experienced social worker combines the following methods of influence, known to him from various theoretical schools and tested in practice: stimulation, persuasion, reliance on the social environment, the use of connections (Figure 9.2).

Completing the process of social work or the process of change also requires certain skills to end the relationship with the client. The achieved results should be understood, discussed and fixed in the conversation with the client.

Influence techniques>

Fig. 9.2. Influence techniques

It should be borne in mind that a social worker often interacts with people who experience stressful situations, so he himself needs social and psychological rehabilitation. With the help of a direct supervisor or a more experienced colleague-instructor, the social worker decides what form of recovery is best suited to the situation. Socio-psychological rehabilitation of social workers can be carried out both by providing them with traditional leisure opportunities, and by referring to a special program that includes psycho-training.

The positions and goals of the social worker are decisive in choosing the type of relationship with different organizations and structures (see Table 9.2). There are common signs of professional relations:

• Relationships arising from professional goals to achieve planned changes; relations for the sake of relations (in the activities of a social worker, relations are built for the sake of achieving certain goals, planned changes);

• Relationships based on the needs of customers, not their own interests;

• Relationships based on objective requirements and awareness of their responsibility.

The codes of ethics that exist in most professional associations of social workers, declare the rights and duties of social workers in relation to their colleagues, clients and society. If the provisions of the Code are not fulfilled, a member of the association of that country or the association itself is liable to the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFAD). If the association's actions seriously violate the provisions of the Declaration, the Executive Committee may suspend the membership of this association or expel it from IFAD.

Types of Social Worker-Client Relationships

The relationship between the social worker and the client, as a rule, is based on the following types: cooperation, agreement and conflict. Analyzing the interactions between the client and the social worker, you can determine the main type of relationship in a particular case. However, all three of these types of relationships will always be present to a greater or lesser degree.

Most often, social workers enter into a cooperative relationship with the client. These relations are built on independence and democracy in decision-making, and the client positively perceives the efforts of the social worker aimed at achieving change. In the relations of cooperation, there arises an atmosphere of trust, honesty and benevolence.

However, the relationship of cooperation is possible only if there is an agreement between the social worker and the client about the efforts to achieve change. A positive result is possible when the goals and actions of the social worker, his values ​​are correlated with the goals and actions of the client. Otherwise, the relations of cooperation will be inhibited.

Thus, cooperation becomes possible if the client believes that it is not dangerous or profitable in terms of its interests. If the client feels that the social worker shows a genuine interest in the problem, then the cooperation relations become even more effective.

When a social worker first meets a client (or a group of clients), their relationship is at the stage of concluding an agreement : each party tries to find out the intentions of the other, clarifies possible requirements, and also finds out what results should be received. If this preliminary test suits the parties, then it is considered that the agreement is reached. The conclusion of an agreement as a type of relationship resembles the behavior of the parties in business trade negotiations, when each side seeks to get something in return for what is inferior: someone needs a good climate in the team, someone - money, someone - housing amenities. At the same time, each side shows a willingness to cede something rather than abandon the attempt to reach an agreement or agreement.

The reasons for concluding the agreement, according to M. Horn, are presented in Table. 9.2.

Trying to come to terms with local institutions and organizations, public associations and social workers are sometimes in great difficulty due to a lack of sufficient authority, while the authorities have them. To reach an agreement, equality must be achieved, and the following opportunities can work:

• the possibility of exposing an official holding a responsible post for abusing;

• Opportunity to expose the image of an official or responsible person

• use of all legal means of legalization to higher authorities with indication of violations of law.

In certain cases, the social worker invites, reduces the parties for negotiations and acts as a neutral person. In other situations, the social worker participates in the discussion of contradictions with each participant and plays the role of the defender of one or the other party.

Table 9.2

Reasons for concluding an agreement (according to M. Horn)

Reason and its characteristics


In the culture of a given society (or local community), cooperation and the desire to overcome contradictions for the sake of the common cause are accepted. This helps the social worker to persuade many to participate in solving a problem that affects to some extent the interests of all, even if outside the problem the cooperation is difficult or impossible

It is possible to reach agreement in negotiations between representatives of various services on the protection of order on the territory of the microdistrict or to agree with family members, individually, on joint discussion of the family conflict. However, not always and not all family members can agree to global changes in their personal lives

At the stage of concluding an agreement, it becomes possible to identify hidden reserves or come to a compromise, which will ensure the necessary changes

The client can agree to cooperate with a social worker and to participate in group therapy in exchange for improving the conditions of stay in the ward

Differences in the status and authority of different systems (police, social services, city hall) can impede interaction and impede the solution of the problem. In this case, it is still possible to reach agreement by redistributing for some time the power of authority between these systems

Social workers, city hall and police officers can temporarily unite and redistribute official functions to resolve the conflict between different ethnic groups in the neighborhood

Parties with unequal power and authority and social status can enter into an agreement on the basis of law

The conclusion of an agreement between the probation officer and the accused, released from custody. Both are in a cooperative relationship

The terms of the agreement can be determined by the types of systems represented in the ecosystem model (A. Pincus and M. Minahan), which attracts more and more interest from researchers and social workers today (Figure 9.3).

1. The system of change conductors - social workers in social services, performing the functions of immediate assistants to their clients, providing changes in their minds, behavior and relationship with the microenvironment, after a thorough analysis of the causes of the situation.

2. Customer system are consumers of social services who seek help from a social worker to solve their problems and conclude a contract for cooperation in resolving the situation.

3. Target system - people who are targeted (representatives of the social environment, on which the changes depend.)

Types of systems in the ecosystem model of social work

Fig. 9.3. Types of systems in the ecosystem model of social work

In the context of the ecosystem theory, a social worker should resort to an agreement in the following cases:

• If there are noticeable discrepancies between the joint goals of the social worker and the client, on the one hand, and the target system on which the changes depend, on the other;

• The target system calculates for more moderate requirements;

• the target system perceives the goals of the changes as not fully in its interests;

• There are conditions for negotiating agreements and the ability to bring both parties to an agreement or at least a compromise.

According to this model, change agents work to change the behavior of specific people, rather than abstract abstractions like "community", "organization" or & quot; system & quot ;. Even if you need to change the whole system or organization, it is still achieved by changing human behavior, changing people's attitudes toward the organization or system, ultimately through the interaction of individuals.

It must be remembered that the change conductor does not always become part of the client system, or the target system, or the action system, but always remains part of the system of change conductors. He cooperates with the system of action, works with the client system and finds ways of influencing the target system, but never becomes part of any of these systems.

Conflict relations arise when the parties can not reach an agreement or a compromise, if the ways of solving the problem, the goals and requirements do not coincide on both sides. In addition, these relations become inevitable if joint goals for the social worker and client appear to threaten the target system. The conflict will also occur if there is no coherence in the actions between the parties after the stage of the work done, and the parties do not even have a desire to discuss contradictions and differences in approaches. However, conflict relations are required of the social worker as a special tactic of intervention, when the threat of breaking any relations with the client or the system of targets becomes apparent.

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