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MENU. SWK 101 Introduction to Social Work and Social Services in Singapore. Study Unit I, Chapter 1, Topic 2: Introduction and Overview of Social Work. Page 1. Introduction to Social Work and Social Services in Singapore.
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MENU SWK 101Introduction to Social Workand Social Services in Singapore Study Unit I, Chapter 1, Topic 2: Introduction and Overview of Social Work Page 1
Introduction to Social Workand Social Services in Singapore I will be your guide in this module and will bring you through the journey of social work . Let me welcome you as you take the first step into this fulfilling journey. Hi, My name is Terence, and I am a social worker.
INTRODUCTION 1 Before we start this segment, can you tell me something more about yourself? Are you currently working or volunteering in the social service? If yes…with which organisation? Why do you choose to study social work? 2 According to your understanding, what is social work? 3 Go to MyUniSIMand respond to the questions under the General Topic Forum “Introductions”
What is Social Work? How would you explain what social work is, in simple language, to a friend?
Social Work Defined There is no one single or simple answer to what social work is. Social work is defined, conceptualised and implemented in very different and contested ways. People looking for a simple, non-controversial answer should be prepared to be disappointed. Click on each picture and listen to how social work professionals describe social work.
IFSW Definition of Social Work Click here to read IFSW Commentary on Social Work “Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. “ “ Social work in its various forms addresses the multiple, complex transactions between people and their environments. Its mission is to enable all people to develop their full potential, enrich their lives, and prevent dysfunction. Professional social work is focused on problem solving and change. As such, social workers are change agents in society and in the lives of the individuals, families and communities they serve. Social work is an interrelated system of values, theory and practice.” commentary
True or False Page 7 • Social work is a social science which apply social theory and research methods to study and improve the lives of people, groups, and societies. • Social workers are concerned with social problems, their causes, their solutions and their human impacts. Social Workers work with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. • Social Work seeks to empower people through the process of helping individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities increase their personal, interpersonal, socioeconomic and political strength and influence thus improving their circumstances.
CONTRUCTS IN SOCIAL WORK Let us take some time to examine the constructs within the IFSW social work definition to help us better understand what social work is all about.
Constructs of Social Work Values Let us take some time to examine the constructs within the IFSW Social Work values to help us better understand the values that guides social work. Humanitarian and democratic ideals - Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life whereby one assist others, in order to better humanity for both moral and logical reasons. Democracy seeks to abolish arbitrary class distinctions or privileges. These are important ideologies which social work had sprung from. Social workers believe in the value of all human life regardless of who they are and what their background may be. Respect for the equality, worth and dignity of all people - Equality applies to being held equal under the law and society at large, without being discriminated because of one’s gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, socio-economic background, illness, sexual orientation or any other difference which may set one apart. Social workers should treat all people with respect and high regard and to ensure that their clients are treated in an ethical manner regardless of their differences. Meeting human needs – Social work seek to fulfill the physiological, safety, social, financial, health and self-esteem needs of all individuals in the society. Through social welfare programmes, social workers are focused on helping people to meet different levels of needs. Developing human potential – Social workers believe in the strength and potential of every human being. Through various social and developmental programmes, social workers are focused on helping people develop their potential, be self-sufficient and overcome problems they are experiencing.
Constructs of Social Work Values Human rights - Human rights refer to the "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. Some common aspects of human rights are the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education. Social workers uphold the right to life in the highest regard and strive to ensure that their clients are entitled to these basic rights. Social justice - Social justice, also known as civil justice, is achieved when justice is present in every aspect of society, and not just in the administration of law. It is generally thought of as a world which affords individuals and groups fair treatment and an impartial share of the benefits of society. It also refers to the distribution of advantages and disadvantages in a fair and equitable manner within a society. Social workers often help administer community resources to ensure that the limited resources are being distributed in a fair and equitable manner. Alleviate poverty- Poverty is the shortage of basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and safe drinking water, all of which determine our quality of life. It limits one’s access to opportunities such as education and employment which aid the escape from poverty and/or allow one to enjoy the respect of fellow citizens. Social workers believe that poverty presents individuals, families and communities with many accompanying social challenges and hence seek to help them get out of poverty.
Constructs of Social Work Values Liberate the vulnerable and oppressed –In believing in social justice and equality, social workers help those who are placed in vulnerable situations (mentally ill, sick, aged, migrant) and those who are oppressed by institutions, countries or societies (poor, prisoners, minorities) to liberate them from oppression so that they will have equal rights and opportunities. Promote social inclusion -Social exclusion relates to the alienation and exclusion of certain people within society from social resources or opportunities. They may be excluded because of their social class, educational status, relationships or living standards and these might affect their access to various opportunities. People with disability, minorities and the elderly are often subjected to social exclusion. Social work however seeks to promote social inclusion so that they have access to these resources and opportunities.
Goals of Social Work The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) had broadly conceptualised social work practice with the following goals: • Enhance problem solving, coping and developmental capacities of people. • Link people with systems that provide them with resources, services and opportunities. • Promote the effectiveness and humane operation of systems that provide people with resources and services. • Develop and improve social policy. • Enhance human well-being and alleviate poverty, oppression and other forms of social injustice. • Pursue policies, services and resources through advocacy and social or political action that promote social and economic justice. • Develop and use research, knowledge and skills that advance social work practice. • Develop and apply practice in the context of diverse cultures. (NASW, 1982) How relevant are these social work goals in our Singapore setting?
Crossword puzzle Page 14
SOCIAL WORK, SOCIAL STABILITY & SOCIAL CHANGE These two contrasting views hold some values and truth. In your view, is social work more an agent of social control or social change?
Common Principles of Social Work Social workers transform the core social work values into principles of practice, which are used to guide specific actions/decisions in different situations as follows: Acceptance Treat clients humanely with dignity and worth. Individualism Recognise and appreciate unique qualities of individuals. Treat clients as persons with rights and needs. Avoid stereotyping. Purposeful expression of feelings Recognise that emotions are part of being human. Allow clients to express emotions in a purposeful manner. Objectivity Manage personal emotions and prejudice that may influence judgment and assessment. Accountability Be accountable for their personal and professional conduct. Ensure professional competence and standards of practice. Controlled emotional involvement Ability to express care and empathy but not over-identify with clients. Ability to differentiate between professional and clients’ responsibilities. Self determination Recognise the right and need of clients to make their own choices and decisions. Clients should not be coerced or manipulated into decisions. Access to resources Help clients gain access to necessary resources. Help the oppressed and disadvantaged to expand choices and opportunities. Confidentiality Social workers ensure that consent has to be given by clients before any disclosure of clients’ information can be made.
Social Work Principles of Practice Page 17 Directions Match the definition of the principle on the left to the principle on the right. This exercise is to help you identify specific actions/decisions that are used in social work.
CONFLICT IN SOCIAL WORK VALUES Different aspects of a social worker’s environment may impose different and conflicting value systems which pose as tensions to the practitioner. These tensions, which may not have an answer, pose as challenges to the practice. Social workers may sometimes experience conflicts between the social work values and principles. They may find that social work values may be in conflict with their own personal or religious values, or the social work values may be in conflict with client’s set of values. 2 1 For example, the social worker who needs to provide counseling on the issue of abortion may be in conflict with the workers’ own religious values of pro-life and anti-abortion. The worker may have to contend with the issue of the client’s self‐determination or his or her anti-abortion religious belief. While it is sometimes impossible to resolve these issues, it is important for social workers to be aware of these tensions and to reflect on these tensions on the basis of the professional values and principles. 3 4
Summary and final thought Social work as a profession is of relatively recent origin. It is important for social workers to understand what social work is about and the role they play as a professional social workers. Social work is a value-based profession. In practice, social workers should constantly remind themselves to respect the equality, worth and dignity of all people – values which will guide their work with their clients. Page 20
Bibliography For additional readings on this topic, you might wish to check out: Zastrow, C. (2007). Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare (9th edition). USA: Thomson. Elizabeth, A. S., Karen E. G., & Sue, S. (2004). Social Work: An Introduction to the Profession. USA: Thomson. Philip R. P., & Leslie, L. (1999). Social Work, Social Welfare and American Society (4th edition). USA: Allyn and Bacon. Van Wormer, K. (2006), Social Welfare and Social Work. USA: Thomson. Singapore Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics http://www.sasw.org.sg/public/documents/SASWCodeofEthics2004.pdf International Federation of Social Workershttp://www.ifsw.org Brenda, D., & Karla, K. M. (2002). Social Work An Empowering Profession (4th edition). USA: Allyn and Bacon.