The practice of ecological social work has been around since the late s, and as environmental awareness has increased in society, social workers have taken on a bigger role in caring for the environment. The main idea behind this concept is the notion of a person-environment fitwhich implies that there is at least one type of ideal environment for a society to live in. What Ecological Social Workers Do Most people outside of social work think of this profession in terms of social programs, such as child protection services and drug rehabilitation, but it goes beyond this limited definition to include all aspects of society and human ecology. The job of social workers is to improve the living conditions of a society, and a large part of that work involves studying and reshaping the surrounding ecology.
Even for individual issues, families, organizations, societies, and other systems are inherently involved and must be considered when attempting to understand and assist the individual. According to this theory, all systems are interrelated parts constituting an ordered whole and each subsystem influences other parts of the whole.
There have been dozens of unofficial iterations of Systems Theory over the past few hundred years, applied to society, science, and many other areas.
In the 20th century, multiple scientists, philosophers, and academics began to outline and define the structure of Systems Theory in their various disciplines; there are now systems theories for biology, cybernetics, and for social work.
While the applications obviously vary depending on the discipline, all systems theories follow the concept of interrelated parts influencing one another as part of an ordered whole. Several prominent thinkers advanced Systems Theory in social work. Robert Merton is considered one of the founding fathers of modern sociology and significantly advanced Systems Theory through his progressive theories on functional analysis.
She mentored and worked extensively with Alex Gittermanwho continues to develop Systems Theory through the Life Model. Case Study in Systems Theory The Pruett case study provides a concrete, real-world example of how Systems Theory is applied to understand how interrelated factors contribute to unhealthy actions.
In this case, the client was engaging in risky behaviors drug abuse and unprotected sex and not attending school. She had not had contact with her father for five years, and some of her only memories of him involved him abusing drugs and arguing with her mother at home.
In the Family Systems Theory, individuals must not be evaluated in isolation, but in the context of the family, as the family operates as a unit. Clearly, the client was missing one of the corners of the triangle and thus one of the pillars of healthy emotional development.
Another concept is the family projection process, wherein the client suffers from the emotional dysfunction of the family unit.
In this case, the client witnessed her father abusing drugs to self-medicate, so she imitated that behavior, thinking it might help her.
The full complexities of this case go beyond the scope of this post, but it serves as an example of how a social worker must understand interrelated systems e. Issues Addressed by Systems Theory Systems Theory is used to develop a holistic view of individuals within an environment and is best applied to situations where several systems inextricably connect and influence one another.
It can be employed in cases where contextual understandings of behavior will lead to the most appropriate practice interventions. The recommended interventions thus involved strengthening the missing part of her family unit, referring her to counseling services, and connecting her with academic support.
There are many practice interventions available to social workers and their applications vary greatly depending on the context, but following are a few common interventions used as part of Systems Theory. Strengthen one part of the system to improve the whole.
In the Pruett case, the social worker recommended finding a healthy father figure for the client, to strengthen the missing component of the family system.
This often means referring clients to specialists, or connecting them with resources or organizations that can help their situation. In the Pruett case, this meant referral to a counselor and connection to an after school tutor. It allows social workers and clients to capture and organize the complexity of a system.
A genogram is a graphic representation of a family tree, constructed with symbols that describe relationships and connections between an extended family. Social workers typically construct them along with clients in order to better understand relationships and identify patterns in the medical history.
One of the most important functions of a social worker is helping clients navigate the various systems that affect their lives, which requires a deep understanding of how subsystems are interrelated and influence one another. This post provides an introduction to Systems Theory and some real life examples of how it is applied.Ecosystems theory was an offshoot of functionalism, ecological theory, dynamic system theory, and many other psychological and developmental theories, it is also known as the ecological perspective and the life model (Canda, Chatterjee, and Robbins, ).
It addresses the needs of social workers working in a variety of areas--including assessment and diagnosis, clinical social work, marital and family therapy, community practice, case management.
Ecological Systems Theory in Social Work Max Siporin State University of New York, Albany Follow this and additional works at:lausannecongress2018.com sider some current issues around its use in social work practice.
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