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An evaluation of the client-worker relationship : a study of the relationship in a selected number of cases in the Family Welfare Bureau of Greater Vancouver Carscadden, Lillian Mary

Abstract

"Relationship" is the term commonly but loosely used in social casework, to refer to the inter-action of personalities which occurs between the caseworker and the client in need of help. The exact constituents of "relationship", and the part which it plays in treatment, and in an improved adjustment, are as yet far from having been precisely determined. The present study examines a carefully chosen set of cases with the object of exploring the way to a more definitive analysis. To take account of the range of the problems encountered, the cases are grouped according to three degrees of difficulty. The assessment of the client's level of ability in relationship is approached through a series of six criteria: his concept of himself, his ability to see his own real feelings, his ways of coping with reality, his ability to endure frustration, the quality of his affect tone, and the pattern of his ways of responding to people. The essential background of each case is summarized. Each group of cases is then reviewed with special attention to differences in the clients' ways of responding to persons and situations, the attitudes and performance of the caseworker, the development of the case, and the elements in the client which either facilitate or retard growth in maturity and adaptation. The study reveals the emergence of patterns where the promise of relationship was good or limited or poor according to the extent that the basic needs of the individual had been met. It shows that the understanding and acceptance of the client by the caseworker enables the client to modify restricting attitudes, and to develop more constructive responses to situations. Where these attitudes do not prevail the caseworker cannot contribute to the growth process of the client. The study shows the need for greater precision in recording, in diagnosis, in the selection of treatment methods, and the ways in which the criteria can be used to help in these processes until measurement techniques become possible. Careful selection of applicants for social work, improved training for supervisors, smaller and more selective case loads, and a greater awareness on the part of agencies of the importance of relationship, are seen as the means of improving the effective use of relationship in treatment.

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