Written Assignment: Generalist Social Work
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Generalist social work is one of the most challenging complex and risky professions . The complexity of the profession is justified by the diversity of factors involved in evaluating the client and developing the most suitable intervention. The risks are associated with the nature of clients' behaviors as well as their reactions and attitudes toward the social worker. Yet, even in the face of a serious challenge, the generalist social worker is expected to keep his/her balance and provide quality assistance in ways that will help the client to overcome his/her problems. However, before that happens, the social worker must be able to evaluate the personality from the four different perspectives, which include biology, psychology, spirituality, and social environment.
The diversity of these perspectives stems from one of the most fundamental pillars of social work practice, according to which human functioning should be considered from the "person-in-environment" perspective (Walsh, 2008). It is through the analysis of the multiple factors of personality and individual behaviors that social workers can understand clients' needs in their entirety (Walsh, 2008). As such, the model of generalist practice rests on the principle of interdependence of the person and the environment (Walsh, 2008). Nevertheless, any detailed personality analysis should begin with biological and psychological factors.
I have a close friend who constantly experiences family problems. As long as we know each other, she has been complaining that her husbands (she is currently married for the third time) and children (she has two) do not respect her as a personality but simply treat her as a family supplement or provider of household chores. She experienced family violence. Her elder child ran from home several times. In addition, she never had any decent employment and found it difficult to make her ends meet. Eventually, she decided that once she divorced, it would be the last time she ever got married and tried to create a family. All those social issues come togther to create a vicious circle of deficiencies, which make the woman's life particularly problematic.
At first, the biological and psychological aspects of the woman's personality has to be evaluated. Such aspects represent one of the most challenging aspects of social work, because it is not always possible to distinguish between them. Some factors of personality stem from one's genetic endowment, whereas others exemplify a purely psychological element of one's being. The personality is defined as a complex psychophysical system that determines one's capacity for adjustment to the surrounding reality (Rothbart, Ahadi & Evans, 2000). It is possible to say that one of the determining biological characteristics of personality is the temperament, growing from a combination of one's experience, maturation, and heredity (Rothbart et al, 2000). I can say that my friend's biological temperament is a product of both heredity (her mother had similar problems) and the environment, including her family. Such elements of the temperament are described as "evolutionary prepared fear", when a person develops a fearful anticipation of negative events even before they take place (Rothbart et al, 2000, p. 128). At the same time, her psychological portrait is based on extraversion, which makes her particularly trusting and susceptible to all sorts of emotional and even physical violence.
The social and spiritual aspects of personality are particularly interesting, since they shed some light on the way the environment impacts clients' behaviors and offers clues as to how these impacts can be successfully moderated and managed. According to Walsh (2008), the social perspective covers everything outside of the client's immediate environment, including school, workplace, neighborhood, and larger community. It seems that the major problems facing the woman grow not from the environment in which she lives but from her inability to reconcile with that environment. It is the problem of fear over decisiveness to solve problems quickly and effectively. The woman makes the same mistake, evenn despite her fears. She does not learn from the lessons provided by her environment, including the social workers she used to visit, looking for a solution to the family violence problem. Simultaneously, due to the absence of any decent employment, she finds it difficult to realize herself in any domain beyond family. She lacks the independence, autonomy, and power needed to make her life better.
Here comes spirituality as a relatively new aspect of social work (Walsh, 2008). Not long before, social work practitioners used to pay little or no attention to the spiritual aspects of personality. Today, social workers understand spirituality as one's search for purposes, meanings, or commitments outside of one's self (Walsh, 2008). My friend's life looks like a never-ending search of something she cannot find. Her three marriages, a life full of emotional and even physical violence, and constant dissatisfaction with the results of her actions imply that she has failed to make a positive difference in anybody's life, except her children. Simultaneously, an impression persists that she does not have any clear set of meanings or spiritual goals she would like to achieve. However, one of the most popular social theories suggests that people by nature want to discover the meaning and purpose of their lives (Walsh, 2008). It is difficult to define whether the woman's problems signify her failure to adhere to a set of specific values or a process of finding them. The given problem is also one of the most difficult aspects of social work.
To conclude, social workers must be ready to evaluate their clients from more than one perspective. One of the most important ones is the analysis of the client's spiritual component. As Walsh (2008) suggests, spiritual evaluation has only recently become an important part of generalist social work. However, with the help of spiritual evaluation, the social worker can create a complete picture of the client's personality, understand his/her needs, and develop interventions to facilitate the client's transition to a new level of wellbeing.
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