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The social casework approach to marital counselling : an exploratory analysis of some characteristic Family Service Agency Cases, Vancouver, 1957 Wharf, Brian Worth Heseltine

Abstract

Social workers have been interested for many years in the problems of adjustment that occur in marriage, and have attempted to assist those families grappling with marital difficulties. In particular the Family Service Agency of this and other communities has concerned itself with marital discord, and through study has tried to broaden its knowledge, and refine its skills. This study is a part of the re-evaluation that is constantly underway. This study is an exploratory one. It is concerned with the strengths and the limitations of the social casework approach to marital counselling. The six cases examined are difficult ones containing problems of a serious nature. The primary reason for their selection was that they revealed the casework process in some detail. The cases have been summarized, and the casework process closely examined. On the basis of the analyses it was found that ego supportive casework, the observance of the social work principles of self-determination, individuality, objectivity and the non-judgmental attitude, and the use of community resources are extremely helpful to families experiencing marital problems. In addition, the ability of the caseworker to grasp the total functioning of the client in his family and social situation is a positive aspect of the casework approach. The chief weakness of the casework approach as it has been evolved to the present time is the policy of routinely assigning one caseworker to help both partners. When the partners are dependent and immature people they are unable to share a deep, therapeutic relationship with the same caseworker. This study supports a proposal made by Mr. Sidney Berkowitz some years ago. Mr. Berkowitz claimed that the caseworker should decide early in the contact whether serious conflicts or mild disturbance was involved, and that two caseworkers should be assigned in the former instance. Other weaknesses in the casework approach resulted from the caseworker's lack of diagnostic thinking and planning, and from their failure to observe the social work principles. The caseworkers also did not seem to realize the harmful effects of marital discord upon the children, and in only one case was direct casework help extended to a child.

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