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Case Study Tools
  • Explore the town
  • Interaction Matrix
  • Mapping The Case
  • Ecomap
  • Perspective
  • My Values
  • Notebook

Phase 1: Engage with the Client System

Select a biography below and begin by reading through his or her case file.

In the Engage phase, the social worker has two main goals:

  • Develop collaborative relationships with all key systems

    These include the client, as well as other systems in the client's environment that can be enlisted in the problem-solving process. These include agencies, neighbors, community organizations, places of worship, schools, friends, and relatives.

  • "Tune in" to the clients' narrative, or story

    The "tuning in" process, first articulated by Lawrence Shulman, includes getting in touch with the client's feelings about his or her situation, and the effects of his or her story of culture, history, and so on; it also includes getting in touch with your own feelings about these clients and the challenges they face.

    Carla Washburn, a seventy-six year old African American was contacted by a case manager from her local Area Agency on Aging. Her sister, Anna, who lives in another state, called the AAA because she was concerned that Carla seemed despondent and was not getting adequate care for a recent fall.

    In this case study, you will learn about Carla, and the life changes that have precipitated her current problems. You will also see how the larger social environment-culture, social policies, and social forces such as discrimination and oppression have shaped her life. And you will develop your problem-solving skills through a four-phase interventive process consisting of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation.

My Engage Tasks

Read Ms. Washburn’s case file. You were unsure initially whether she even wanted services. Thus, you identified some preliminary concerns and goals that could be the basis for a working relationship. Now let us assume that she is interested in services. You now need more information. What other information would be helpful for this case?

Look at Ms. Washburn’s ecomap. An ecomap is a graphic portrayal of a client and his/her relationships with the environment at a specific moment in time. What does Ms. Washburn’s ecomap, which was developed from existing information in the file, tell you about her? What are its differences and similarities to the interaction matrix? Do you have a preference for the visual (ecomap) over the verbal (matrix)?

Study the town map so that you can get a better sense of the community in which she lives. What resources exist that might be helpful to Ms. Washburn in reaching her goals? Are there any potential resources not shown on this map that you think might be important?