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Involuntary Clients in Social Work

Based on definition, Social Work is a work activity that will benefit those who need help. The work is undertaken by professional staffs that are educated and trained to provide the special services that they provide for a special group of people who needs help like children being abused by other family-members, women beaten by husbands, etc. Social work is an action-oriented subject wherein individuals and social change play key parts; planned actions that are implemented to be able to help those in need and undertaken by trained staff.

Some of the factors that I consider important in completing a particular social history are (1) dedication of the professional to gather information; (2) willingness of the clients to provide and volunteer information; (3) availability of data that can be taken from secondary sources; (4) system, processes and methodology used in gathering data; and (5) availability of technology in assessing documents without prejudice to the stakeholders.

Knowing and being able to study these factors will help equip the professional to understand the situation or case study and be able to come up with a suitable and appropriate action-solution. The availability of each factor will complete the profile of a client or stakeholder and as such, will make it easy for the social worker or trained professional to undertake actions that will be beneficial to the client or stakeholder.

Working with an involuntary client is so much harder than with someone who is willing to cooperate. Interaction with this particular client is based on conflict rather than cooperation, such that there is a need to be firm and procedural, as much as you provide alternative solution to the problem or needs of the client. Some strategies in dealing with involuntary clients are to (1) immediately inform them of what services you provide and the benefits that they can earn from it.

Inform them that you are not there to harass or hurt the client, instead, will be willing to provide free services that will make life more easier for them; (2) identify legitimate interests and needs of the client; (3) identify as well the non-negotiable aspects of intervention that you will have to do to ensure that there will be good results at the end; (4) negotiate and plan together with the client the most suitable and viable situation or case for all stakeholders; and finally, (5) agree on criteria to enable the parties involved to measure progress.

A termination of professional services provided to a client is always based primarily on the client’s needs. Services provided by social workers are always goal-directed and has a pre-determined outcome state that will define the point of termination. Thus, termination will only push through if the clients have (1) achieved stability of pre-defined treatment goals; and (2) achieved sufficient improvements and developments that may not require the social worker’s help.

Termination will ultimately need the acceptance and participation of both parties (client and social worker); both working together to eventually achieve their agreed-upon goals in a given time. For a client who stopped attending meetings and seemed to be uninterested in his/her case, the social worker is mandated to officially look for the client or recommend sanctions due to failure of client to do his/her part. On a lighter side, the social worker may still instigate meetings with the client, know the situation and the reason for his/her unavailability and suggest possible alternative to encourage the client to finish the agreement.

As a mandated reporter of child abuse cases it is my primary duty to report to proper authorities the situation in an un-biased and non-prejudicial way. It is my duty to research fully the case before acting so as not to bring emotional and psychological trauma to the involved parties. This is an important duty and will eventually save the child from further abuses that will cripple (emotionally, psychologically, mentally, socially) him/her for life if left unreported.

Even if another person believes otherwise, it is my task to do what I believe is right and should encourage the person by explaining in a concise and clear manner the pros and cons of the action. The first thing that I will do if I am a social worker and I am meeting with a mother whose children has been left unsupervised while she is working, and even with previous intervention she has not made any arrangements to protect her children, is to try to draw her out, listen and understand the situation.

She should be made to feel that I am there to help her and not to make things harder for her. Reasons for her inaction might be lack of resources, low-esteem, depression, and inability to cope with her responsibilities, lack of support of family members or relatives, and many other possible reasons. I will inform her of her inaction and the repercussions to her and to her children. I will inform her that as much as I want to help, I am also mandated to take actions that might separate her from her children if I see that the children’s needs are not satisfied by her.

She might be suffering from low-esteem and pessimistic attitude if she responds to me with “You want to help me. You expect me to be everything”. Obviously, she is confrontational and would be difficult to deal with. Still, there is a need to exhaust fully all means and that I should emphatize and be more understanding to her situation. There might be valid reasons for her inaction and I should know it through further meetings with her or research.

Through non-confrontational question and answer, I will try to know her reasons and try to provide alternatives or suggestions that will encourage her to go through our plans within a pre-determined time. If I see that she is no longer willing to listen, it is my duty to inform her of her rights as a parent and the basic rights of her children. I will have to present to her the consequences and impart to her that these will be done through the proper channels and authorities.

If she changes her mind and cooperates, then her decision is for the good of her family. In dealing with cases such as these, I should not forget that the core values of social work is (1) service to others; (2) provision of social justice; (3) upheld the dignity and worth of a person or client; (4) emphasize the importance of human relationships; (5) maintain integrity at all times; and (6) be competent so as to provide the best service to the clients.

References: McAuiliffe, Donna and Ferman, Terri. Social Work. 2002. Retrieved 12 May 2007,

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