Social Work: Issues in applying theories to Practice.
As in most formative or academic undertakings, the outcome of the years of training are envisaged to provide students with the critical and objectivecompetence to evaluate presenting problems and to engage in remedialprocesses that are both responsive as well as contextually appropriate. In socialwork in particular, the effective integration of theories into practice is a factor of myriads of critical considerations. The starting point is the critical awareness thattheories are not practice dogmas. Most importantly, no one theory iscomprehensively adequate in the analysis of a given social problem. The generalconsensus is that the most effective social work practitioners are those whocritically apply multiple theories (triangulations) in their intervention processes;making sure that their chosen theories are contextually grounded. Indeed, as ahuman activity; and bearing in mind the reality that neither the service users northe service providers (social workers) are a homogeneous entity fitting aparticular stereotype, the effective integration of theories into practice mustreflect these differences and diversities.My experience of years of research, debates and conceptualisation stronglysuggest that in frontline practices, most social workers especially the newgraduates mistakenly think that there is a particular or right way to solvepresenting problems. While not dispelling the reality that there are right ways(approaches) in interventions, my argument is that any search for a particular orsingle way to resolve what are usually complex social issues in social work isbound to be futile. Nevertheless, theories provide those right ways to renderfrontline interventions systematic, more rational; resulting in more consistentthough not necessarily perfect outcomes.
In the case of a family with the parents in ‘conflict’ relationship and theirchildren showing aggressive attitudes towards their peers; while Bowlby’s childdevelopment theories may give a critical insight into the origins of the familymembers’ difficulties in forming meaningful relationships; Freud’sPsychodynamic
theories on personality maybe needed to reinforce assumptionsderived from Bowlby’s. Together, the social worker is able to development amore holistic analysis of factors that maybe significant determinant of thefamily’s difficulties. While these may not be the only theories that may assist thesocial worker in gaining a critical insight into the family’s problem, the socialworker’s ability to triangulate or use multiple theories significantly enhances thepotential for effective, efficient and appropriate intervention. Indeed, with thefamily as a social system; the contribution of whose integral members are vitalto the overall wellbeing of the family as whole, an understanding of the System Theory will suggest that effective resolution of the problems of any member of the family will reciprocate similar effect on the rest on the family in making theentity survive and live more harmoniously. In the process of resolving theproblems of the individual members for issues maybe relating to violence,