Supervision for Social Workers
UPDATE October 20, 2008: University of Buffalo School of Social Work published a very engaging and informative interview with Dr. Lawrence Shulman about parallel process and honest relationships in supervision. Dr. Shulman's interview was full of practical tips for supervisors and clinicians in the field. You can hear this excellent podcast at the University of Buffalo School of Social Work Living Proof website.
Download MP3 [19:32]
In the mid-1990s I worked for an outpatient crisis unit for children and adolescents. We provided assessment, intervention and short-term stabilization therapy for children who were suicidal, homicidal or actively psychotic. Because of the severity of the presenting problems and the risk for imminent harm, we would consult with each other and the psychiatrist on every case. Case consultation was a daily, sometimes hourly, event. In these case consultations we talked about what was going on with the kid, the family, the other agencies, organizations or groups with which they might be involved. We staffed cases in real time in order to make sure that we were getting all of the information we needed to keep this kid alive. We also got feedback on what we might have missed in our assessment or what information might be useful for treatment planning and next steps.
Once a week for two hours the agency hired relief workers to cover the phones and take care of drop-ins so that the full-time staff could attend a weekly staff meeting. When I started working on the crisis unit, I expected that in these weekly staff meetings we would get in depth clinical supervision and direction for the treatment of our cases. Instead we talked about billing codes, 90-day review cycles, which signatures were required on which pieces of paper, and which new assessment was required by the state to qualify for reimbursement. Although it seems obvious now, it wasn’t until I had spent some time in this agency that I realized that we had scheduled administrative supervision and informal clinical supervision. In order to qualify for my advanced clinical license I had to seek outside clinical supervision because there are important differences between administrative and clinical supervision. There is also a difference between clinical supervision for licensure and on-going post-license clinical consultation. In an excellent article on supervision, Mirean Coleman distinguishes between consultation and supervision. Consultation, she writes, may involve some of the same functions as supervision but lacks the administrative responsibility and accountability. Consultants can make recommendations but have no power to sanctions against a social worker when problems arise.
The 2005 NASW Standards for Clinical Social Work states that Clinical social workers shall maintain access to professional supervision and/or consultation. The standards stipulate that social workers should receive supervision for the first five years of their professional experience. After five years, social workers are expected to receive supervision and consultation on an as-needed basis. When social workers have their clinical licenses, the NASW guidelines recommend that social workers offer training and mentoring opportunities to beginning social workers. In social work, supervision is seen as a continuous and meaningful part of the profession.
So what is supervision? According to the NASW, “Supervision is the relationship between the supervisor and the supervisee that promotes the development of responsibility, skill, knowledge, attitudes, and ethical standards in the practice of clinical social work. The priority in the supervision process is accountability for client care within the parameters and ethical standards of the social work profession” (NASW, 1994)
There are three types of supervision: administrative, clinical (also called educational supervision) and supportive supervision.
The most basic function of administrative supervision is to ensure that work is performed. Most social workers receive administrative supervision at their agencies. How do you know if you’re receiving administrative supervision? Your supervisor talks with you about paperwork compliance, billing, administrative procedures for changes in codes and categories. Administrative supervision is crucial in maintaining agency functioning. Every time my supervisor talked about billing codes, she was making sure that our agency would be reimbursed for services rendered. Without proper attention to billing and compliance with the myriad of oversight agencies (and funding sources), most social service agencies couldn’t survive audits or pay the bills. Administrative supervision is not concerned about the quality of the services provided – that is the function of clinical supervision.
Clinical (also known as educational supervision)
Clinical supervision is concerned with teaching the knowledge, skills, and attitudes important to clinical tasks. Some social workers receive clinical supervision at their agencies. How do you know if you’re receiving clinical supervision? You meet on a regular basis with your supervisor to discuss client issues such as assessment, diagnosis, treatment options, barriers to care, medication support, etc.
Clinical supervision, like the therapeutic relationship itself, starts with rapport building, establishes a purpose for supervision, and determines when the relationship will be over. Clinical supervisors can and should use all of the skills they have developed as clinicians in a supervisory context.
Supervision looks different based on setting, clinician needs and supervisor orientation. For example, if you are receiving supervision for work in the addictions field, it might be that your supervisor will ask you to identify which stage of change your client is in. In contrast, if you are working in a child and family treatment agency, your supervisor might ask you to identify your client’s developmental stage, or the stage of the family life cycle.
Although there are different approaches to supervision, including formal case presentation, technique-specific approaches, etc., some common clinical supervisory questions include:
1. What is your role with the client?
2. What goals have you and your client established for treatment?
3. What challenges do you have with treatment right now?
This type of supervision is typically not separate from administrative or clinical but has the function of increasing job performance and decreasing burnout.
Supervision, whether administrative, clinical or supportive, has traditionally occurred in person. Because of advances in technology, more and more people are using the phone and Internet technologies like chat rooms and email to obtain supervision. Regardless of the medium, supervision can occur individually or in groups. Each state has different regulations about what counts towards supervision. In Pennsylvania, social workers can receive no more than 50% of their supervision towards advanced clinical licensure in a group setting.
Uses of supervision across the career
In this next section, I’m going to talk about how supervision can be used at three different stages of a social work career – student, professional working towards advanced clinical license, and finally independent practitioner. I will also reference relevant standards and guidelines developed by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Counsel on Social Work Education (CSWE). For social workers at all stages of their career, good supervision prevents burnout, improves the quality of clinical care, and reduces liability.
The Council on Social Work Education’s 2004 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (also known as EPAS) state that that supervision is essential to social work practice. Graduates of either BSW or MSW programs are expected to demonstrate 12 abilities, one of which is the use of supervision and consultation (EPAS, 2001, 3.0, p. 7). Students are required to receive supervision in field placements (EPAS, 2.1.6, p. 13). Field supervision has an educational focus and is expected to accomplish a number of goals. One goal is to ensure that students are providing ethical and clinically appropriate services. Another goal is to help students to develop into professionals. A third purpose is to help students understand how coursework is translated into practice. In any give class students are provided with more information than they can be expected to grasp, and certainly more than they are expected to implement in the field. Good field supervision allows students to bounce ideas off of supervisors that they learned about in class and to gain insight into how those ideas or theories actually work in the “real world.”
Supervision is important after graduation as well. Supervision is also important for obtaining advanced clinical licenses that are often required for third-party reimbursement, whether that be federal insurance like Medicaid, medicare or SCHiP, or private insurance like BC/BS. Before you enter a supervisory relationship towards advanced clinical licensure, it is important to make sure that your supervisor has all of the credentials necessary to sign off on your supervision. I know this sounds obvious, but the rules and regulations for clinical supervision differ from state to state. Here’s a recent example from New Jersey. An article in the January 11, 2008 edition of the Asbury Park Press reported that 5 social workers in New Jersey were suing their employer, Meridian Health System, for misrepresenting their supervisor’s credentials to provide their supervision towards advanced clinical licensure. According to the article, in the State of New Jersey, clinical supervisors must have an LCSW and have completed 20 continuing education credits of post-graduate course work related to supervision. Here’s where it is important to be clear on your supervisor’s credentials. Although the plaintiff’s supervisor was an LCSW he did not have the 20 CEU hours. So, what do you do if your agency supervisor does not have the credentials? You seek outside supervision like I did at the crisis unit. Because of social work’s unique focus on the person-in-environment, it is usually preferred to have a social worker as your clinical supervisor. If, however, you are unable to find a clinical social worker, some states allow approved psychologists and licensed professional counselors to provide supervision.
Supervision is expected of social workers who have achieved their advanced clinical license and are able to practice independently and receive third-party reimbursement. The NASW Standards for Clinical Social Work stipulate that Clinical social workers shall maintain access to professional supervision and/or consultation. Most social workers work in settings that expect them to provide services to a wide variety of clients with a wide variety of problems. The social work axiom of “starting where the client is” sometimes means that social workers are presented with problems that are outside of their area of expertise. Supervision and consultation becomes a way for social workers to acquire additional knowledge and skills required to provide excellent clinical care. Supervision helps social workers to recognize when they are practicing beyond the scope of their expertise and need to refer to someone else. For example, when I was working at a small private social service agency in Austin, Texas I was assigned a woman whose husband of 50 years had recently died. Her stated reason for seeking services was to deal with the overwhelming sadness she was experiencing. Although I had experience working with grief and loss issues with children, I had never worked with adult grief and loss. I spoke with the director of the agency about my concerns. He provided administrative supervision and asked that I complete the intake and then refer if necessary. According to the NASW guidelines, it is appropriate for me to provide services to this client, as long as I let her know that I do not have expertise in working with adults with grief and loss issues and as long as I seek clinical supervision and consultation about all areas of treatment, including assessment, diagnosis, course of treatment, best practices, issues of transference and countertransference and termination and referral. By providing this information, the client can consent to services knowing what I can and cannot do. This is called “informed consent." After the intake assessment I met with my clinical supervisor (who was different than my administrative supervisor) and it became clear to me that I would be unable to provide the type of clinical care that this woman deserved, so I referred out. Through a combination of administrative and clinical consultation I was able to provide the appropriate level of clinical care. Had I been in a situation where there were no referral options, I would have needed to obtain intensive supervision and outside education in order to provide services.
Supervision is important not only to ensure quality clinical care, but also as a way of reducing liability. Social workers are increasingly the targets of malpractice lawsuits. Although courts do not require social workers to be perfect, they do require social workers to be professional. How do the courts know what professional services look like? Well, they can look at the NASW standards for clinical practice and see if you have been following them. They can also call in social workers who perform the same kind of work as you and ask them to review your documentation to determine whether or not you were providing a reasonable standard of care. That is, they want to know if you were doing what any other reasonable social worker would have done in your place. Documented supervision is a way of showing the courts that you were following NASW guidelines and that your treatment decisions were reviewed by others and modifications were made, if appropriate. In other words, documenting your supervision is a way of making sure that you are providing a reasonable standard of care.
Social workers who provide supervision are expected to uphold certain ethical standards outlined in the NASW code of ethics. These can be found on the NASW website at socialworkers.org. The four ethical responsibilities for supervision and consultation are:
(a) Social workers who provide supervision or consultation should have the necessary knowledge and skill to supervise or consult appropriately and should do so only within their areas of knowledge and competence.
(b) Social workers who provide supervision or consultation are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.
(c) Social workers should not engage in any dual or multiple relationships with supervisees in which there is a risk of exploitation of or potential harm to the supervisee.
(d) Social workers who provide supervision should evaluate supervisees' performance in a manner that is fair and respectful.
Summary and Conclusion
Supervision is relationship between a supervisor and supervisee. Social workers typically receive both administrative and clinical supervision. According to the standards set by the Counsel on Social work Education and the National Association of Social workers, social workers are required to receive supervision during their social work program and for five years after graduation. For ethical, clinical and liability reasons, ongoing clinical supervision and consultation is strongly recommended for social workers with advanced clinical licenses. Supervision can be face to face, over the phone or even over email and can occur individually or in a group setting. For social workers who find themselves working with a problem area or population for which they have little training, or for social workers who are in agencies or geographic locations where clinical supervision is not available, phone and email supervision are important alternatives to traditional face to face supervision. Because the issue of phone and web-based social work services is increasingly important, the next few podcast will address phone supervision, both from the supervisors’ and supervisees point of view.
- Coleman, M. (2003, June). Supervision and the clinical social worker. Clinical Social Work: Practice Update, 3(4).Retrieved on January 11, 2008 at http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/clinical/csw0703b.pdf
- Counsel on Social Work Education. (2001). Educational Policies and Accreditation Standards. Retrieved online January 11, 2008 at http://www.cswe.org/NR/rdonlyres/111833A0-C4F5-475C-8FEB-EA740FF4D9F1/0/EPAS.pdf
- National Association of Social Workers. (1999). 3.01 Supervision and Consultation. NASW Code of Ethics. Washington, D.C.: Author. Retrieved online January 11, 2008 at http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp.
- NASW standards for clinical social work in social work practice. Washington, D.C.: Author. Retrieved online January 11, 2008 at http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWClinicalSWStandards.pdf
- Stofle, G. S., & Hamilton, S. (1998). Online Supervision for Social Workers. The New Social Worker, 5(4).Retrieved online January 11, 2008 at http://www.socialworker.com/onlinesu.htm.
- Webster, C. (2008, January 11). Social workers sue over supervisor's credentials: Claim boss didn't have necessary credits. Asbury Park Press.Retreived online January 11, 2007 at http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080111/NEWS01/801110413/1004/NEWS01
Singer, J. B. (Host). (2008, January 14). Supervision for social workers [Episode 30]. Social Work Podcast. Podcast retrieved Month Day, Year, from http://socialworkpodcast.com/2008/01/supervision-for-social-workers.html
Misuse of Power: How can social worker use their power responsibility?
rodrigo | December 7, 2012
WritePass - Essay Writing - Dissertation Topics [TOC]
This essay intends to demonstrate an understanding of professional authority and the decision making progress and how the social work profession utilises its power. The essay will equally look at the meaning of power and responsibility in social work and will go on to discuss theories of power and of its misuse/abuse which will in turn demonstrate how and to whom power is shared. It will show how this distribution of power applies to social work and the service users. Power and powerlessness go hand in hand as to have one the other must exist. There will always be inequalities both on personal and structural levels since the society is not equal. In order to understand professional power and responsibility in social work, professionals need to understand the theoretical explanation of how power, privilege, prestige and powerlessness are distributed within the society such as class, poverty and social divisions (Thompson, 2007).
My placement is a statutory agency. Children and Young Peoples Services (CYPS) and we are involved with pieces of work that have to do with children and families. The agency is one of the 14 locality teams in Cambridgeshire covering the Bottisham, Burwell and Soham areas. The focus of our work is to work with schools and health to identify problems at an early stage and work to resolve them as soon as possible using a range of approaches. The team works with Bottisham and Soham Village Colleges and the 16 primaries that feed into them. The team is made up of Children’s Centre staff, Youth Service, Connexions, Education Welfare Officer, Extended schools co-ordinator, Parent Support Advisor and in school secondary support/Officer. The aim of the team is to ensure that all children aged 0 – 19 years are able to reach their potentials. The team work very closely with other county council staff, also the voluntary and independent sector who provide services for children and young people, such as Social Workers, Education/Teachers, Psychologist, Special need Officers, Police, Youth Offending Service, Health/School Nurse and Health Visitor and Family Support services.
The fact that my agency operates under the statutory sector requires it to work under strict legislation and policy guidelines. One of the most important frameworks of the agency is the code of ethics which all professionals should abide by. It is our duty to treat service users with respect and dignity and also as individuals with rights as stipulated in the Human Right Act 1998 (DoH, 1998). It is equally our duty to be anti-oppressive in our practice and as well as to uphold the rights of service users.
At my agency, there is a strict respect of the Data Protection Act 1998 regarding the confidentiality of information held on children and their families (DoH, 1998). This information can only be accessed by staff that has access to OneVision where all information are stored and this can only be accessed by having a password.
Akister (1996) defines power as the ability to bring about change which can take many forms and be measured in many ways. She added that power can be perceived as an ability to interpret within the given guidelines and responsibility, choosing between giving and not given, duties and approach and to have information and knowledge. As a social worker it is important to understand different kinds of power, who has it, who doesn’t, and how those who doesn’t can have it. According to Thompson, (2002) the social work profession possesses a lot of power thus making academics believed that the profession is conditioned by some existing inequalities resulting to a limited capacity on the part of the service users to make their own decision which is in contrast to those who have the capacity to make decisions about their own lives. Northouse (2010) argues that those who actually possess power have the capability of affecting other people’s beliefs; attitudes and also their course of action and also the ability or possibility to influence.
Similarly, responsibility can be defined as the act of professionals being responsible, accountable, or answerable; to themselves, their colleagues and the service users to expose discrimination and oppression (Akister, 1996).
Theories of power and of its misuse/abuse
Akister (1996) suggests that there are many theories of power a social worker should know of and be able to apply to her practice such as French and Raven (1959), Max Webber (1974) and Rollo May (1976). I will be using May (1976) theory of power to analyse my work with S and also be making references to French and Raven (1974) theory of power in the process. I reflected on May (1976) power dynamics while working with S which Akister (1996) categorised in four different ways namely; power against, power over, power for and power with. May (1976) considered Power against to be oppressive and damaging to service users which thus takes a form of a punishment. Smith (2008) pointed out that this theory is similar to French and Raven’s coercive power which is always in a position to punish. During my work with S I realised that my agency used power against by refusing S to attend the youth group activities stating that they want to minimise risk to himself and others. I could challenge this concept by suggesting to my manager that I do appreciate the concern of risk and safety however, I think S should be given the opportunity to make his own decisions, that is, if he wants to attend the group activities or not. I further said that his decision to attend the group activities should be his understanding of why he should attend and not being ‘forced’ or ‘turned down’. I could challenge this concept constructively as it is against the social work ethics and values to work in discriminatory and oppressive manner. The Human Right 1998 stipulates that service user’s right should be respected and professionals should avoid being discriminatory and oppressive (Brayne and Carr, 2008).
I proposed to my agency as emphasised my May (1976) ‘power with’ that alternative ways of treating S should considered (Akister, 1996). May (1976) ‘power over’ was also considered as this power can be used to control individuals (Akister, 1996). ‘Power over can also be oppressive as a professional, I had the power to discuss S’ behaviour with my agency as well as the outcome which was his exclusion from group activities. This power is similar to French and Raven (1959) coercive power that places a professional in a position to punish which is also similar to their ‘Reward Power’ giving the capacity to reward or remove bad consequences (Akister, 1996). During my work with S, I realised that I had to look at different options that could be beneficial to him such as proposing a referral to undergo CBT sessions ??to. I made it clear to him that this was just a proposal and that he has the power to accept or reject it, to which he accepted. This practice showed that I had empathy for S and was there to make sure that he is supported and treated with respect and dignity in addressing his behaviour rather than just punishing him.
May (1976) refer ‘power for’ as when social workers disempower service users by doing things for them. This was not evident in my practice as I empowered S to speak to the psychologist with regards to his appointment for CBT sessions. Even though S was of mixed parentage, he could speak English very well so there was no need to arrange for an interpreter. I made sure that my practice was anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive. I also made sure that I worked in partnership with him by not taking over all of the responsibilities. May (1976) ‘Power With’ is referred as power which is shared through partnership service users. This power was demonstrated while working with S’ mother when she had expressed her wish to move away from their present house. She had told me to assist her by filling the application for a new house stating that their present house was uncomfortable and unsafe for her and the children. S’s mother told me that she had previously made several applications to the housing association but nothing has been done. I thought that it was my responsibility to assist her since I am accountable for my work and it is part of my professional identity to be competence, responsible and to respect the codes of ethics and values (Brayne and Carr, 2008). I thought there was a misuse of here as I started filling the forms for her. However, I stop and let her continue and could support her by explaining to some bits she did not understand. If I had not stop filling the forms, it could have resulted in power not being shared and also not encouraging her to do things for herself or taking control over her life and this would have been disempowering and oppressive practice (Akister, 1996). Power should be shared by involving service users as much as possible.
Power as argued by Burke and Harrison (2002) is a key theme of discrimination as long as long as discrimination is seen as a result of power-imbalance. It is thus important for social workers to recognise that oppression linked with discrimination can either be intentional or unintentional abuse of power with intention to act against service users. For example, I could easily concluded that the case of S and his family is one of an intentional abuse since they have made several applications to the housing association and no action has been taken. When I informed my manager about the situation, she advised me to use the law which I will discuss below to help the service users.
French and Raven (1959) ‘Legitimate Power’ was considered during my assessment with S. This power comes from the official roles within the agency and requires social workers to take on certain task such as undertaking an assessment (Akister, 1996). S’s assessment was carried out under Section 17 of the children act 1989. By following and recognising the policies, procedures, guidance and also by respecting S’s human rights meant that ‘legitimate power was considered during the assessment to enable him and his family have all the services they deserve.
Misuse of power
So many people think that social workers are in the position to misuse their powers because they are not familiar with power theory, (Wilding, 1982 cited in Akister, 1996). Wilding (1982) further suggested ways that power can be misused by professionals such as making excessive claims about services that can be provided which always occur during an assessment. During my work with S, I made sure not to guarantee any services just to make him happy. I explained to him that after the assessment, I will complete the assessment form and contact my manager and services will be provided based on the assessment. In reflection, I noticed at my agency that the file of a service user went missing because a colleague forgot to put it back in the cupboard after using it. We were due to meet with the service user as I was shadowing my colleague. We were not able to get the service user’s historical information as a result of not reading his notes. I thought this was misuse of power as the service user’s information and dignity was not respected. Several Social workers judge power as an aberration of their intentions to empower service users and to make agencies more caring. Akister (1996) argues that social workers must increase their power and their understanding of its dynamics and adopt a wider range of means of influence than they do at present.
Safeguards designed to prevent the misuse/ abuse of power
Understanding how power may be misused or abused was central to my practice with S and his family and it provided me with the basis of developing professional competence. Freire (1970) pointed out that professionals require a moral and ethical attitude towards equality to enable them to empower service users. He argued that if only people from oppressed groups can take on their responsibilities, there is little hope that professionals will ever achieve their vision (Freire, 1970).
Safeguards designed to prevent misuse/abuse of power used within my agency include; working together, agency’s policies and procedures, supervision and complains procedures. In my agency, partnership working is one way of safeguarding against the abuse of power. Most of our work requires working with other professionals, effective communication, sharing of information appropriately and ensuring that service users are involved in the assessment process (Adams et al, 2009). While working with S, I made sure that I collaborated with other professionals and agencies appropriately and also that S was put centre of stage. According to Akister (1996) policy is an authoritative statement that is produced by a body which guides the practice of social workers. Policy acts as a safeguard to abuse of power because it legitimise, regulate and guide the practice of social workers during intervention in service user lives.
When I realised during my work with S that there was concern regarding substance misuse, my initial thought was to contact the social services since as a student substance misuse was quite new to me. My lack of knowledge of substance misuse as a social work student only goes on to confirm Goodman (2007) who argues that social work profession have eventually ignored to acknowledge substance misuse which have created a gap. However, bringing this up during supervision with my manager made me understand that I could have potentially misuse my by jumping into conclusion of wanting to contact the social services. I realised that having supervision was very important as we were able to address the issue and I could learn from it. Jumping into conclusion or making assumptions can be discriminatory which result in being oppressive in one’s practice. Reflecting on this circumstance reminded me of my own personal beliefs towards service users who misuse drugs. Beckett and Maynard (2005) pointed out that we consider our personal values and that of our agency when working service users. However, I made sure that my practice did not add to the oppression the service users were already experiencing. To avoid unfair and abusive practice in my work with the young person and his family, I needed to examine the body of my values, which guided me throughout my work and it enabled me to move towards a more cultured and involving approach as suggested by Freire (1970).
My agency works with other professional groups. It is thus important to know that there can be conflict resulting from individuals that differ in attitudes, beliefs, values and needs. Conflicts usually occur due to lack of effective communication, failure to share information appropriately, conflict of value and lack of effective leadership. Conflict can be managed using the following five strategies; stepping aside, working together, co-operating, challenging and collaborating.
Using supervision to develop my practice
This section will look on supervision and how important it was for my practice and professional development. Ford and Jones (1991) defines supervision as a planned and regular periods of time that the student and supervisor spend together to discuss and review the student’s work and progress whilst in placement. Holloway (1997) added that supervision is a relationship where the supervisor shows knowledge of an expert who can make a decision on the worker’s performance and also acts as someone who upholds the profession. Akister (1996) points out that supervision takes three different forms which are; accountability, learning, and support. Kadushine (1992) model of supervision also brought a similar idea such as education, supportive and managerial or administrative supervision. At my agency the manager takes a monthly supervision with staff members.
While I was on placement, I undertook supervisions sessions both my Practice Teacher and On-Site Supervisor fortnightly. This was an opportunity for us to discuss my case load, reflective skills, professional development, relevant theories, and ethical dilemmas which are relevant to my practice. During supervision, we also discuss challenging and complex issues that may interfere with my practice. For instance, based on my assessment with S I identified the flowing concerns; substance misuse, truancy, aggressive behaviour and poor relationship with family members, I had to use the relevant theories such as attachment, person-centred and ecological theories to find out how S was doing emotionally, intellectually as well as behaviourally and how best my agency could support him and his family. Throughout my placement supervision has been a reflective tool used to evaluate my professional development and practice.
Work in accordance with orders of the court or statutory requirements
Work in accordance with orders of the court or statutory requirements can have an impact upon the work of agencies and professionals who work with children, young people and their families/carers in both the statutory and voluntary sector. The aim of the court is to strike a balance between the rights of children to express their views on decisions made about their lives, the rights of parents to exercise their responsibilities towards the child and the duty of the state to intervene where the child’s welfare requires it (www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/co-volume1-court-orders-other-legal-issues.pdf). Payne and Littlechild (2000) expressed their experience in court as gruelling and hair-raising but they confirmed other professionals may have different experiences. Based on her experience as a professional witness and of her reading Payne and Littlechild (2000) questioned whether the present confrontation of the judicial system fosters the welfare of children which they conclude that there can be an abuse of power in social responsibility if the outcome of many court cases involving children is taken into consideration.
The managing and taking down of records and reports as required by my agency is very important when conducting an assessment with service users. These records and reports are usually discussed with my manger and she often made recommendations and suggestions regarding my involvement with service users. These records are also shared with other agencies with the concern of service users; all these put together create a kind of co-operation within the different multi-disciplinary teams and networks. During my work S, I was able to record accurately all information received. All visits and contacts made with S, his family, college and other professionals are recorded as soon as possible in order to be factual and also to enable other professionals who have access to this information to see it. Social workers take on a large range of responsibility; the nature of the work is such that the demand of services can be endless. It should thus be acknowledged that having to manage and prioritise workloads is very important in social work. Whilst on placement, I was able discuss this situation with my manager and also managed to prioritised situations as effectively as possible (Thompson, 2005).
I will conclude by saying that it is important for social workers to increase their power and their understanding of its dynamics and adopt a wider range of means of influence as clearly stated by Akister (1996). I have attempted during the essay to look at possible ways in which social workers can develop conceptual and practical frameworks for addressing the task of making sense of and reframing power relationships between the worker and service user.
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