Explain how you would assess Paula Cortez’s situation applying the micro-level of social work practice and specifically identify two strengths and/or solutions in this level

Theories of Life-Span Development
November 6, 2019
Theoretical Orientation Development Plan Paper Review
November 6, 2019

Explain how you would assess Paula Cortez’s situation applying the micro-level of social work practice and specifically identify two strengths and/or solutions in this level

RESPONSE 1

Respond to two colleagues who presented a different strength and/or solution in analyzing one of the levels of practice.

Colleague 1: Kevin

Micro-Level practice focuses on personal interaction with the client on an individual level or with a couple or family. The intervention of micro social work effects change on an individual basis and involves working closely with clients to support them through their challenges while maintaining the client’s self-determination (NASW, 2017).

Mezzo-Level intervention entails bringing people together who are not as intimate as a couple or group of family members but might mutually build and benefit from this social or resource network (Holosko, Dulmus & Sowers, 2012). It might directly change the system that is affecting a client, such as a classroom or neighborhood group. Mezzo work may include group therapy counseling, self-help groups or neighborhood community associations (NASW, 2017).

Macro-Level practice focuses on systemic issues. It might include creating and maintaining a network of service providers in order to establish a continuum of care. Macro-level intervention can intersect with the political realm by creating and lobbying for policy changes. The planning, implementation, and maintenance of social programs are also processes which macro-scale approach is applicable. Coordinating multiple services and policy work offers an opportunity to address several overlapping social problems (NASW, 2017).

Explain how you would assess Paula Cortez’s situation applying the micro-level of social work practice and specifically identify two strengths and/or solutions in this level

The student understands the essential concepts of Paula’s self-determination. Nevertheless, a micro-level approach could assist her through counseling, empathy, active listening, goal setting and building rapport with her to produce a healthy therapeutic relationship (Arendt, 2017). The directive for recognizing and focusing on Paula’s strengths is crucial to the committed client empowerment and fulfillment. Paula’s resilience was drawn from her cultural background that played a part in her independence especially from mainstream medicine. Also, Paula’s strengths were exhibited in her uniqueness in teaching herself how to paint with her non-dominant hand and her ability to gather professionals together to work with her (Cowger, 1994).

Describe how you would assess Paula Cortez’s situation applying the mezzo-level of social work practice and specifically identify two strengths and/or solutions in this level

The student would be non-judgmental and resourceful and use the mezzo-level approach when it comes to connecting Paula with the right referrals to assist her with preparation for the pregnancy (Plummer, Makris & Brocksen, 2014).The psychiatrist also was a supportive example of a mezzo interaction regarding Paula’s well-being during her pregnancy and worked with the social worker in making the hard decision of having Paula involuntarily admitted into the hospital (Plummer et al., 2014). Clearly, Paula’s resilience proceeds her, and it created a sense of purpose; a new beginning from what was a troublesome past filled with disappointment, emotional and physical abuse (Plummer et al., 2014).

Describe how you would assess Paula Cortez’s situation applying the macro-level of social work practice and specifically identify two strengths and/or solutions in this level

The student also recognizes that macro-level social work is essential in helping Paula to identify her personal needs. With advocating, the social worker can propose interventions and implement strategies through local government assistance, provided reasonable healthcare assistance, food and protected shelter that would aid Paula’s complex needs (Plummer et al., 2014).

Describe what the value of applying strength-based solutions is.

Applying strengths-based approaches will be helpful in successfully shifting the balance of care and developing services that are focused on prevention and independence. For example, Paula’s newborn child created that sense of purpose. Paula became independent and began to acquire social services on her own (Plummer et al., 2014). Paula maintained her autonomy which was of value to her.

References:

Arendt, V. (2017). Changing Areas of Practice: The Transferability of Social Work Skills. New Social Worker24(2), 10-25.

Cowger, C. (1994). Assessing client strengths: clinical assessment for client empowerment. Social Work39(3), 262-268.

Holosko, J., M., Dulmus, N., C., Sowers, M., K. (2012). Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families: Evidence-Informed Assessments and Interventions, 1st Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781118419359/

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. M. (Eds.). (2014a). Sessions: case histories. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. [Vital Source e-reader].

The National Association of Social Workers. (2017). Code of ethics. Retrieved from https://www.uaf.edu/socwork/student-information/checklist/(D)-NASW-Code-of-Ethics.pdf

Colleague 2: Lorraine

Your description of how micro-, mezzo-, or macro-levels of practice aid social workers in assessing families. Assess Paula Cortez’s situation using all three of these levels of practice, and identify two strengths and/or solutions in each of these levels.Assessing families is an important part of what we will do as social workers.

Understanding the family unit and how the intricate  parts of this unit interact and affect one another is essential.  On the Micro level it is important to understand each individual unit and the family’s dynamic.  This understanding of the family helps social workers identify how the  influences exist within the overall unit.  On a Mezzo level it is important to understand the families interaction as a group and the groups interaction with the community in which it lives and works.  The families access to resources and whether these resources are being utilized or not.  On a Macro level we examine how this family fits into the social environment on a larger scale and how social policies impact the family as a whole.  According to Holosko, Dulmus & Sowers (2013),  “The key challenge here is to recognize how the common themes of making available material and social resources and achieving health and well-being for all family members are constructed within the global economy and have different meanings across different contexts” (p.244).As I review Paula Cortez’s situation from a Micro level I can see several areas of strength.  However, the strengths I identify here have to do with Paul’s level of resiliency.  Paula has faced several life altering medical conditions, one being her HIV positive status.  Paula has been diagnosed as bipolar, yet has been able to remain out of the hospital of over 5 years.  On a  Mezzo level Paula has been admitted to a skilled nursing facility due to paralysis on her right side, yet has been able to progress within that facility and regain some mobility within her right arm and the ability to walk again.  Paula became pregnant and despite her overwhelming medical condition she has been able to request and receive 24/7 in home services for her child.  On a Macro level Paula is identified as low income.  Although Paula is part of a larger issue regarding poverty and the imbalance of societal wealth,  she is doing her best to utilize public assistance to help her in providing a stable environment for her self and her child.  Paula is utilizing many social resources to assist her with her childcare as well as her health issues (Plummer, Makris & Brocksen, 2013).

Describe the value in strength-based solutions.

I am a overwhelming fan of strength based solutions.  Strength based solutions provide he client with a strong focus on their abilities and on what can be done as opposed to what can’t.  There are key themes social workers should incorporate when assessing families.  According to Holosko, Dulmus & Sowers (2013), “A commitment to the belief that families bring strengths and resources to the helping relationship, and these can be harnessed in finding solutions. This means that the assessment can provide opportunities for exploring both problems and resources within the family” (p.247).  It is important for clients to focus on the genuine possibilities and work towards realistic, measurable and obtainable goals.  When clients are operating from a strengths perspective, they can begin to envision their goals as actual possibilities.  Operating from a strength perspective does not discount the serious nature of the families issues at hand, it incorporates the understanding of the risk involved with the family’s situation while incorporating a strength based approach to it.  According to  Holosko, Dulmus & Sowers (2013), “An understanding that a focus on strengths does not diminish the importance of identifying risk and safety issues and finding ways to protect clients from harm and causing harm” (p.247).

Holosko, M. J., Dulmus, C. N., & Sowers, K. M. (2013). Social work practice with individuals and families: Evidence-informed assessments and interventions. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Chapter 9, “Assessment of Families” (pp. 237–264)

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. (Eds.). (2013). Sessions case histories. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. “The Cortez Family” (pp. 23–25)

RESPONSE 2

Respond to two colleagues whose assessments of family cohesion differ from yours. Resolve the differences or explain how each viewpoint is valid.

Colleague 1: Farren

The Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems is a tool that is used when working with families. The models address three dimensions which are cohesion, flexibility, and communication (Olson, 2000). The model is designed for treatment planning and clinical assessments and focuses on treating marital and family system and focuses on togetherness (Olson, 2000). The goal of this model is to promote flexibility and provide balance amongst the members and create ways to effectively communicate.

The Cortez family would benefit from the Circumplex Model as they appear to lack togetherness and everyone appears to be doing their own separate things. The family would benefit from cohesion as it balances togetherness as the family appears to be very distant from one another (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2013). Balanced families have better communication skills than unbalanced families (Olson,2000). The Circumplex model would also assess the family’s flexibility as it would assess how the family reacts to change. In the Cortez family, Paula is pregnant and has numerous health issues, and the father had remarried and Miguel was in school and had a job. The family system appears chaotic and the family is distant and has their own lives, however, Miguel did step in and provide some support but it was limited (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2013). Communication reinforces the previous 2 dimensions (Olson, 2000). In the Cortez family, it does not appear that there is effective communication going on however, Paula and Miguel appear to communicate more together then they do with David.

Assessing these dimensions can assist the social worker in treatment planning as it can help the social worker create goals by assessing the gaps in the family dynamics. In the Cortez case communication amongst the family members appears to be very limited. Also, the family lacks cohesion. The Circumplex Model would have identified these issues and create goals that will alleviate some of the family’s issues if they are able to successfully achieve their goals as the model is designed for clinical assessment and treatment planning (Olson, 2000).

Reference

Olson, D. H. (2000). Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems. Journal of Family Therapy, 22(2), 144–167.  Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. (Eds.). (2013). Sessions case histories. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. “The Cortez Family” (pp. 23–25)

Colleague 2: Amanda

The circumplex model of families and relationships are built on three different dimensions. These dimensions include cohesion, flexibility, and communication (Olson, 2000). Each of these dimensions are broken down to show us how a family functions. Cohesion is described as the amount of time the family spends together as a whole. There are four types of cohesions that could be possible within a family unit, disengaged, separated, connected, and enmeshed (Olson, 2000). Disengaged is the lowest form of togetherness while enmeshed is overly together. Flexibility is like cohesion, but this shows amount of change in its leadership, role relationships, and relationship rules (Olson, 2000). The levels of flexibility include rigid, which is the lowest, structured, flexible, and chaotic, which is the highest level (Olson, 2000). If there is no conformity or leadership within a family unit, there will indeed be chaos. Communication is different and has many different aspects to it. This is when the family unit can communicate with regards to their listening skills, speaking skills, self-disclosure, clarity, continuity tracking, respect, and regard (Olson, 2000). The circumplex model serves as a framework to assess family systems, because each dimension helps you to identify to what degree the family is suffering.

The Cortez family case is slightly complicated. This family unit includes Paula (mother), Miguel (son), and David (father). This family no longer live together as a family due to Paula’s illnesses, however they are still close to one another (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2013). In the first dimension of the circumplex cohesion, Paula’s family tends to be disengaged. I say disengaged, because David and Miguel are doing their own thing with limited attachment or commitment to Paula (Olson, 2000). The second dimension is flexibility. Paula’s relationship with her son Miguel is chaotic. I chose chaotic because there is no leadership between them, nor is there proper decision making. Paula is constantly going off her medications making her impulsive (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2000). The last dimension is communication. Paula has poor communication within her family unit. She doesn’t ask for help when needed, and she rarely speaks with Miguel or David unless she must.

Assessing these dimensions helps the social worker in treatment planning, because to set goals and help family units, we must know how the family is functioning daily. This can also help with the breakdown of what maybe causing some family problems. Treatment plans are vital to clients who are struggling to keep their family together such as a separation or divorce. Its helpful to the social worker to set goals, and if these goals are followed than there is a chance the family unit can change, if the goals are not followed than the chance of a change is slim.

References:

Olson, D. H. (2000). Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems. Journal of Family Therapy, 22(2), 144–167.

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. (Eds.). (2013). Sessions case histories. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing.

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