Solution-Based Casework / Edition 1

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Solution-based casework is an approach to assessment, case planning, and case management that combines what we know from clinical social work with what we value about sound social work practice. It is grounded in family-centered social work and draws from clinical approaches within social work and mental health. By integrating problem- and solution-focused approaches that form the clinical and social work traditions, treatment partnerships are more easily formed between family, caseworker, and service provider.

Solution-Based Casework is a skill-based, practice-oriented text that provides the specific guidance that students and new practitioners need in order to make sense quickly of the complex tasks of assessment and case planning in child welfare. The book flows out of a long practice experience, and was developed in consultation with workers and supervisors who were attempting to remedy problems viewed as contributing to recurrent abuse and neglect. It seeks to end adversarial relationships in casework and advocates case plans based on specific outcome skills rather than on those written with vague outcome goals measuring attendance in counseling. It serves as a common conceptual framework for integrating disparate segments of a response network, thereby allowing all providers in a therapeutic system to work toward common goals.

The text is divided into three sections. In Section I the conceptual history and theoretical foundations of solution-based casework are presented so that the reader can place this approach to casework within the ongoing professional conversation about what constitutes sound practice. Section II addresses issues of assessment and case planning. Section III focuses on case management issues and how treatment team members experience a solution-based casework approach.

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Editorial Reviews

This skill-based, practice-oriented text provides specific guidance for new practitioners to make sense of the complex tasks of assessment and case planning in child welfare. The approach combines problem- focused relapse prevention models with solution-focused models. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780202361185
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/30/2007
  • Series: Modern Applications of Social Work Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 244
  • Sales rank: 362,632
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

William C. Barrett is in private practice, Family Intervention of Kentucky, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Jeffrey Todahl is assistant professor, with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy, College of Education, University of Oregon.

Dana N. Christensen is professor and director of the Center for Family Resource Development, Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi
I. Historical Context
1 The Foundations of Solution-Based Casework 3
Family-Centered Practice 3
Ecological Perspective 4
Competence-Centered Perspective 7
Family Life Cycle Theory 9
Postmodern Family Casework 11
Solution-Focused Family Therapy 13
Relapse Prevention Theory 15
Integrating Solution-Focused and Problem-Centered Models 17
2 Searching for Solutions in the Postmodern World 21
The Evolution of Casework Practice 22
Current Challenges to Casework 25
Rising Pressure from the Welfare to Work Movement 28
Emerging Responses to the Crisis in Casework 29
II. Assessment
3 Anchoring Casework in Everyday Life Events 37
"Sorting Things Out" Together 37
Partnership Changes the Meaning of Assessment 38
Keeping Ourselves Focused on Everyday Life 38
Routines Are at the Heart of Family Life 39
The Problem with Solutions 40
Overview of Family Development 41
Beginning Couple 42
Infant Preschool Family 43
School-Age Family 44
Adolescent Family 45
Launching Family 46
Postparental Family 47
Divorce and Remarriage 47
Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse of Family Life 48
Everyday Life and Patterns of Discouragement 49
4 Recognizing Patterns 51
Assessing Patterns in Everyday Life 51
Creating a Partnership to Find Solutions 52
Techniques for Building Partnerships 53
Recognizing Dominant Patterns in Everyday Life 56
Helping the Family Describe the Problem in Everyday Life Terms 57
Decision-Making in Assessment 62
5 Assessing Problem Detail 65
Relapse Prevention Requires Specific Skills 65
What Skills Should Be Targeted for Outcome? 65
Steps to Promoting Prevention Skills 68
Step 1 Recognizing Patterns in High-Risk Situations 68
Step 2 Learning the Details of High-Risk Patterns 69
Step 3 Practicing Small Steps toward Change 73
Step 4 Creating a Plan That Stays Focused on Solutions 76
Reinforcing Client Progress During Assessment 79
Summary 80
6 Building a Consensus for a Prevention Plan 83
Co-Constructing Measurable Goals with Your Clients 83
Searching for Solutions 83
Strategies That Work in Gaining Goal Consensus 86
Helping Clients Establish an Initial Safety Plan 94
Thinking Long-Term While Taking Short-Term Steps 95
What Goes into a Good Initial Safety Plan? 96
Considerations on Implementing a Safety Plan 96
Summary of the Role of Assessment in Case Planning 97
Appendix 99
III. Management Issues
7 The Process of Writing Objectives and Tasks 105
The Advantages of Being Specific and Measurable 105
When Case Plans Become Court Documents 107
Writing a Case Plan That Is Focused on Solutions 108
Uniting Around a Family Goal 109
Breaking Down the Goal into Family Objectives 109
Going from Family-Level Objectives to Individual-Level Objectives 110
The Primacy of Risk-Related Objectives 112
Breaking Down Objectives into Manageable Tasks 112
Writing Action Plans to Prevent Relapse 118
8 Solution-Based Case Management 125
The Challenge of Staying the Course 125
A Reminder about Targeting Outcome Skills 126
Challenge 1 Making the Transition from Intake to Ongoing 127
Challenge 2 Making the Transition from Casework to Treatment 132
Challenge 3 Integrating Welfare to Work Objectives 136
Challenge 4 Making the Most of Setbacks 136
Supervisor's Role in Case Management 140
Taking the Time to Supervise 141
Maintaining a Partnership 142
Maintaining a Focus on Specific Situations in Family Life 143
Summary 146
9 Treatment Providers' Role in Case Management 149
Introduction 149
Gathering Basic Information about the Referral 152
What Happened? 152
What Is the Safety Plan? 153
How Has the Problem Been Defined with the Family? 154
Sample Dialogue at the Time of Referral 155
Offering Services to Mirror Family Developmental Needs 159
Overview of Steps to Prevention 163
Helping Clients Learn the Details of Their Patterns 164
Helping Clients Practice Small Steps of Change 166
Helping Clients Develop Relapse Prevention Plans 168
Summary of Solution-Based Interviewing Techniques 169
Strategies for Collaboration 170
10 Solution-Based Interviewing Techniques 175
Techniques That Build a Consensus about the Problem 176
Normalizing 177
Externalizing the Problem 178
Searching for Exceptions to the Pattern 179
Tracking the Problem Pattern 180
Techniques for Creating Interest in Signs of Change 184
Between Session Observation 185
Old versus New T-Charts 186
Scaling Questions 187
Time-Oriented Questions 189
Anchoring Change in the New Self 191
Expanding the Audience for Change 192
Reinforcing Progress through Credentialing 194
Celebrating Rites of Passage 195
Reference Reading Specifically for Technique 197
11 How Staff Experience Change 199
Frustration and Old Models 199
Advantages to Solution-Based Casework 203
Challenges Inherent in Changing Habits 207
Success Stories 209
Implementing Solution-Based Casework: Training Considerations 213
References 219
Index 225
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