Assessment is the basis of problem definition, identification of factors, and analysis of possible actions. According to the generalist practice approach, it is the second stage in the process of a planned change that focuses on macro, mezzo, and micro perspectives (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2018). Social workers write assessments, or reports, to identify clients’ critical needs, analyze interviews conducted by other specialists, and examine goals (Laureate Education, 2013). In this paper, I will discuss how I might address assessment during my field education experience.
People are considerably influenced by individuals, groups, or organizations, so the assessment of the client, issue, and situation is a crucial element of social work practice. The first meeting initiates the assessment process, during which the social worker aims to understand “the person in the environment” and discuss the client’s reactions (Kirst-Ashman, 2018, p. 180). Assessment is similar to a medical diagnosis in its search for causes, but the principal differences are environmental aspects (macro, mezzo), external factors (policies, laws), client involvement, and emphasis on strengths. Thus, to properly assess the client, I would consider his/her current interaction with the environment and examine its impact on the individual.
It is essential for the social worker to adequately assess all contributing factors because multiple environmental stressors may overwhelm the person, while the lack of challenges might lead to boredom and helplessness. Additionally, I need to distinguish between several life cycle stages, since the issues of older adults, such as dementia or disability, are different from those of young adults experiencing problems with education or romantic relationships. Alternatively, the social workers’ assessment can target specific issues or disorders (depression, anxiety, behavioral concerns) to select appropriate approaches and tools for the therapy. Self-regulation is another aspect of the assessment process that the social worker should regard to maintain personal values and professionalism. Critical reflection (CR) may assist self-regulation as it helps recognize the assumptions guiding our actions and alter ineffective strategies by developing appropriate behaviors (Savaya & Gardner, 2012). Professional supervision or self-assessment via documentation and analysis can raise one’s awareness of theories-in-use (guiding values/beliefs) or espoused theories (adopted values). The results of CR may contribute to the development of efficient practice models and alternative interventions.
My field education experience involves working with elderly and mentally or physically disabled clients, so the assessment should focus on relevant information to avoid inaccurate judgment. Moreover, I employ critical thinking skills to set reasonable assessment goals directing my future interventions (Kirst-Ashman, 2018). As a social worker, I always remember that the primary purpose of the assessment is not to identify the weaknesses or the client/environment but to develop solutions based on the strengths and available resources. Along with the micro-level interventions, I might consider macro and mezzo practices involving advocacy for vulnerable individuals requiring changes in current healthcare policies or community services to address the needs of my elderly clients. For instance, the assessment of our community via research and interviews with the local population may indicate that senior centers providing emotional support and socialization are unavailable due to the COVID-19 restrictions or bureaucratic factors.
Overall, I might address assessments by determining the client’s needs and goals and examining the macro and mezzo levels along with the micro-level. The contributing factors, such as the client’s stage of a life cycle, characteristics of his/her challenges, and specific disorders, should be considered to offer meaningful interventions. Self-regulation and CR strategies might help me regulate professional behaviors and manage values, while the focus on the client’s strengths can assist in the development of solutions.
Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hull, G. H., Jr. (2018). Understanding generalist practice (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2013). Engagement [Audio file].
Savaya, R., & Gardner, F. (2012). Critical reflection to identify gaps between espoused theory and theory-in-use. Social Work, 57(2), 145–154.