Relational Theory with Other Practice Theories
There are a large number of social work theories and practice models that you have to choose from, and you must engage in critical analyses of the research and evidence that are available, which demonstrate what theories or models seem to be more effective with certain groups or specific psychological disorders. Additionally, there can be some overlap in the various practice models and theories, so sometimes it can be rather confusing to determine which model or theory integrates aspects of other models or theories. Social work also integrates practice models and theoretical perspectives from other fields, such as psychology, psychiatry, sociology, mental health counseling, and other helping professions. This overlap and integration can sometimes make it confusing for social work students, especially, to differentiate between different models and theories.
Unfortunately, the research on the efficacy of practice models and theories with diverse groups, especially the more vulnerable populations, lags behind the growing numbers of diverse clients that social work clinicians may find themselves treating. Thus, it is extremely important that social workers be especially vigilant about which practice model, theoretical approach, or intervention they select to work with more vulnerable groups and why. You will gain practice critically examining and comparing different social work theories and models, as well as determining whether or not they should be utilized with certain populations.
Although writing about theories and practice models is not the same as actually putting them into practice with a client, conducting a critical analysis of these methods does provide a strong foundation of knowledge, and provides an opportunity for reflective thinking about them.
How many social work theories and practice models are there? Because of the overlap between social work and other helping professions, the available theories and interventions are almost limitless. Experienced social work clinicians may find that they draw from multiple practice models and apply them with specific clients and in specific contexts, or align themselves primarily with one model and choose aspects of it that they have found from experience will better help them in working with clients across the board, generally speaking.
Throughout this program, you will be exposed to a wide variety of social work theories and practice models. Some will seem to be more appealing, or seem to align better with your personality and approach to working with clients. Other theories or models may seem to have less applicability in the context of your practice and your style.