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Assessment and Contract Planning. Chapter 7. LEARNING OBJECTIVES. Understand the appraisal in assessing client system needs and building a contractual relationship for intervention and service delivery Develop problem-solving skills to mobilize client system strengths and resource capabilities

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learning objectives
  • Understand the appraisal in assessing client system needs and building a contractual relationship for intervention and service delivery
  • Develop problem-solving skills to mobilize client system strengths and resource capabilities
  • Develop skills for transforming client system problems into needs and measurable goals and objectives
  • Develop skills for negotiating and prioritizing goals and intervention options
  • Develop skills for establishing a contract and creating a structure for monitoring and evaluating proposed interventions
  • Assessment is not a health diagnosis although it can include a health related diagnosis.
  • It includes the critical appraisal of the person-in-environment psychosocial functioning and configuration.
  • It is inherently linked to empirical data collection for identified problems, needs, and goals.
  • It includes the client system strengths, assets, and resource gathering and problem-solving capacities
  • Melts and molds the respective expertise of the social worker and the client system into a collaborative decision making and contract planning process.
  • It considers options for interventions for different goals.
  • It culminates in a contract that identifies who is going to do what, when, for what purpose, and how.
assessment statement
Assessment Statement
  • This statement forms the basis for intervention or referral
  • Main goal is to identify both the problem and the cause of the problem. In doing so:
    • Consider the nature of the problem itself
    • Explore the details of the problem, its triggers and effects on client system
    • Assess the strengths and needs of the client system with the problem
    • Determine the potential for change given the client systems environment and available resources
what do you think are some of the main presenting problems in social work practice

How confident are you in your ability to identify the main presenting problem of a prospective client?

What do you think are some of the main presenting problems in social work practice?

How about…

Job stress, unemployment, depression, anxiety, relational difficulties, grief and loss, physical and mental illness and disability, substance abuse, homelessness, teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency

words to the wise about problems
Words to the Wise about Problems
  • Target problems are client acknowledged problems
  • The client must explicitly agree that a concern is his or her problem to be solved.
    • “My kids are in foster care. I want them back.”
    • “I'm tired of feeling terrible about myself.”
    • “My mom bugs me.”
problem awareness

Problem Awareness

Try the following problem self-assessment survey

the definition of a problem
The definition of a problem

‘A problem is anobstacle which makes itdifficult to achieve a desired goal, objective or purpose’

  • It refers to a situation, condition, or issue that is yet unresolved.
  • Often we sense that there is a problem, but are unable to articulate, pinpoint, or solve the problem
    • This is where the aid of another person comes in handy
    • As a social worker you act as an aid
assessment statement1
Assessment Statement

________________ has ___________________

(Who) (What Problem)

(With what level of need)

because _______________________________

(Explain Why)

Problem: Recent eviction and lack of consistent housing

Need: Emergency housing for mother and two small children

Sample Assessment Statement:

Mrs. B. is a 27 year-old Latino woman with a problem of not being able to maintain housing for herself and her two small children. She was recently evicted for the third time. She has been unemployed since the birth of her first child 4 years ago, and has basically lived in an apartment financed by the father of her first child.

She has a conflicted relationship with this man and has never been married. At present, she has no contact with this man. She has off-on relationship with the father of her second child, who has provided for her and the children during the past year. He has alcohol problems and recently lost his job. Mrs. B and her children were evicted for lack of rent payment.

Mrs. B has completed her GED and has acquired basic office training skills. She is interested in finding work but has no means for childcare. She and her 2nd child’s father are interested in living together as a family but his alcohol difficulties have interfered in their relationship.

Mrs. B is highly motivated to secure stable housing for herself and her children but is uncertain how to deal with personal relationship she has with her 2nd child’s father……..

problem prioritization

Problem Prioritization

After the client's problems are identified, they are ranked in order of importance to the client.

This ranking is usually the basis for deciding in which order the target problems will be addressed.

problem prioritization1
Problem Prioritization

Problem:Recent housing eviction

Lack of consistent housing

Current Needs:

1. Emergency housing for mother and two small


2. Stability in living conditions

3. Employment and Income means for mother

4. Childcare means for young children

5. Relationship clarity with 2nd child’s father

6. Child’s father’s need for sobriety

7. Child’s father’s need for employment

change potential
Change Potential
  • It is recommended to select a target problem with a high potential for resolution or need satisfaction
  • In doing so ask the following questions:
    • What is the change potential of the problem itself, the persons involved, and the related environment?
    • What strengths, assets, and resources are available to facilitate and support the change?
  • Estimate the potential for change using a scale of 0-10
    • 0 = no potential for change
    • 10 = Maximum potential for change
you can also have client assess change potential themselves
You can also have client assess change potential themselves
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 meaning you have every confidence that the problem will be solved and 1 means no confidence at all, where would you put yourself today?




No Confidence

Every Confidence

you can use the following statement to formulate an assessment of the potential for change
You can use the following statement to formulate an assessment of the potential for change

The change potential for __________________

problem/need of ________________________

is assessed as _________________________

because ______________________________


(what problem)

(high, somewhat high, medium, somewhat low, or low)

(reasons: nature of problem, motivation, capacity, resources and restraints in environment)

never underestimate

Never underestimate…

…the utility of assessing STRENGTHS

class activity

Class Activity

List some popular and common words used to describe


remember clients have strengths too
Remember…Clients Have Strengths Too
  • According to Saleeby, almost anything can be considered a strength under certain circumstances. This includes:
    • What people have learned about themselves and others
    • Personal qualities, traits, and virtues
    • What people know about the world around them
    • Talents people have
    • Cultural and personal stories and lore
    • Pride
    • The community
    • Spirituality
the search for strengths
The Search For Strengths
  • Occurs by:
    • Asking Questions
    • Seeking responses
    • Listening Actively
  • Should occur only after client problems and/or have been explored and discussed
strengths related assessment questions
Strengths Related Assessment Questions
  • Survival questions:
    • How have you managed to overcome/ survive the challenges that you have faced? “What have you learned about yourself and your world during those struggles?”
  • Support questions:
    • Who are the people that you can rely on? Who has made you feel understood, supported, or encouraged?
  • Exception questions:
    • “When things were going well in life, what was different?”
  • Possibility questions:
    • What are your hopes for your future, or the future of your family?
  • Esteem questions:
    • What makes you proud about yourself? What positive things do people say about you?
goal setting

Goal Setting

You want to improve _______?

You want to increase _______?

You want to decrease_______?

goals have multiple functions
Goals have multiple functions…

Provide direction and continuity for the work

Provide means for client and social worker to agree about outcomes to be achieved

Facilitate selection of intervention strategies

Facilitate monitoring progress

Serve as outcome criteria

goal setting a plan of action
Goal Setting: A Plan of Action
  • Collaborate with the client to:
    • Develop well-formed, realistic goals
      • My daughter would be home again
    • Described in specific, concrete, behavioral terms
      • I need to contact my daughter’s case worker and talk to here about parenting classes
    • Described in familial terms and expressed as the “start of something” instead of the “end of something”
      • What will your daughter say when she learns how hard you are working to bring her home?
    • Help improve the lives of those in client’s environment and social life
      • How will your parents feel once your daughter is home?
goal attainment
Goal Attainment

Goal Attainment Scaling Scale

Kiresuk & Sherman, 1968

This is a practical scale and one that you

could adopt, in some form, in your

professional practice.

goal attainment scale
Goal-Attainment Scale

Goal 1

Goal 2

Goal 3

Goal 4

Goal 5

1. Most unfavorable


2. Less than expected


3. Expected level

of success.

4. More than expected


5. Most favorable


contract planning

Contract Planning

Translating prioritized goals into purposively designed and sequenced action tasks with specific time frames for completion

key ingredients
Key Ingredients
  • Who…
  • Will do what…
  • To what extent…
  • Under what conditions…
  • By when?
  • The 5WH

Create Structure in the Contract Plan:

  • Date the problem that has been identified
  • Specify the problem and need to be addressed
  • Specify goals for each problem
  • Specify objectives or tasks for each goal
  • Identify person carrying out tasks
  • Outline a time frame for accomplishments
  • Set up review process mechanism to monitor goal accomplishments
  • Document the contract with signatures and copies of the document
sample assessment forms
Sample Assessment Forms
  • Comprehensive Adult Client Assessment
  • Comprehensive Child Assessment Form
    • Practice Student
  • Field Practice Client Assessment Form
  • Family Centered Assessment Guidebook