Social Worker Case Study Questions


perspective is that, while no particular theory is implicitly comprehensive; objectivelyapplied, any theory can prove contextually appropriate.However, Payne, (1997, p. 36) asserts that theories are most effective whencombined and that in isolation, “the theory’s value is vitiated” Indeed incontemporary complex and dynamic society with corresponding heterogeneity in itssocial problems, theory triangulation (combining theories) is essential to better understand, explain and address the myriads of interrelated problems that is

‘social work 

’. The very use of theory in social work per se is indispensible in establishingsome degree of rationality in what would otherwise be a chaotic occurrence.

Reasons for choosing particular theories

Argued on appropriateness rather than convenience; the ‘

Psychodynamic theory 

by Freud and the ‘

 Attachment theory 

by ‘Bowlby’ in particular; and the systemtheory in general seem most applicable to this case study. This preference is basedon the premise that family and relationship problems may be rooted in ineffectivepersonality developmental childhoods. Within this context, Thomas and Pierson,(1999, p.302) state that, “the psychodynamic approach views the adultPERSONALITY as product of childhood development” Similarly, Payne, (1997, p.79) states that “the important focus on social work on childhood and earlyrelationships and maternal deprivation comes from psychodynamics theory” Indeed,Lishman, (2003, p. 14) suggests the use of the attachment theory in cases of relationship and dysfunctional family situations because it seems to appropriatelyexplain behavioural and relationship problems as typical of this case. Thesuggestion here is that, Mr A’s drinking, gambling, aggression with associatedviolence; and Mrs A’s indiscriminate spending could be consequential of their deficient or ineffective childhood developments. Additionally, according to Payne,(1997, p. 291) both theories provide comprehensive models “that claim to offer asystem of thought to cover all the practice social workers might want to undertake”Payne, (1997, p.291). Additionally, Wood and Hollis, (1990, p. 9) perceivepsychodynamic theory as inseparable from family therapy. It is the combination of these arguments, capped with my critical judgement that has influenced the choice


Hi Olivia,

I’m sorry to hear that your first interview didn’t go too well. However, it sounds like it was an excellent training or prep class for future interviews…

Thank you for sharing some of the tough questions that you faced. Based upon the ones you mentioned here, I gather you are from Canada. While I am not familiar with the laws and regulations in your country, I can offer you a few suggestions.

1A) As per this site, Bill 168 addresses workplace harassment and violence. This site has a wealth of information about this bill – I would read through it to get an understanding of some of the key obligations that are now in place for employers. They have a specific pdf toolkit preparing employers on this very topic.

1B) The answer to how the staff is impacted by the changes in regulation is a function of what those changes are… I do not know what the changes are in Canada. However, I would read up about the latest changes and then think about them.

In all likelihood, the changes lead to some sort of increased pressure for the staff – to do more with less (less staff, less funds, less resources). In addition, there may be stricter requirements (more paperwork, electronic filing, new codes etc) that require additional learning and/or time/effort in order to keep up.

In truth, these pressures are ones that are faced by nearly everyone in every industry… you would want to demonstrate some awareness of the changes in regulations in your country as well as your ability to keep up with and adapt to changes.

2) Re supervisory skills in an unionized environment, I think you may be able to gleam some helpful info from one or both of these two sites and

I would also try if you can to ask any social worker(s) whom you know who employed in a supervisory role – how being a part of a union – impacts their work… While different unions may have different rules, I assume that there are some general ones that one must adhere to in a supervisory role. If/when you find out, could you please come by and share these with us?

Regardless of the specific union laws, I think the underlying message you want to convey is your ability to learn and adapt to new ways of working (and share an example demonstrating this).

3) Re research and evaluation, I would recommend that you check out the book: Program evaluation for social workers: Foundations of evidenced-based programs by Grinnell, R. M., Gabor, P. A. & Unrau, Y. A. . This is the book we used in my research class.

Very briefly, the underlying goal of research and evaluation is to seek quality improvement. Quality Improvement means that you continuously measure the effectiveness of processes in order to enhance client services.

Plan, Do, Check, Act > Study process and decide what improvements should be made to improve quality; Put plan into action on trial basis; Check if change is working as planned; If change works, implement on a larger scale. If not, refine and repeat.

Re the ethical considerations of research and evaluation, these include conducting the research ethically that is: obtaining informed consent, ensuring voluntary participation, doing no harm, maintaining confidentiality (identifying information is not made available to anyone but the program coordinator), as well as anonymity (identity of the research participant needs to remain unknown to the research team), and accessing only those components [information] that are of relevance to the program.

In addition, evaluations should not be used inappropriately i.e., to justify decisions already made or as a public relations tool.

Caveat: Do not rely on my brief description… please check out the source I’ve referred you to.

I would wish you the best of luck but you don’t need it – with such great learnings from your first interview, you will do beautifully on your next interview 🙂

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