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Published on December 30, 2008

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The Ecosystems Perspective : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon The Ecosystems Perspective Chapter 2 Generalist Social Work Practice Karla Miley and Michael O’Melia Theoretical Frameworks for Practice : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Theoretical Frameworks for Practice Theories about human systems Theories and models of change No one practice framework clearly represents "the social work view” Analyzing Theoretical Perspectives : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Analyzing Theoretical Perspectives Review research base Note role expectations for clients Examine definition of problems, focus for change, and interventions Check consistency with social work ethics and values Evaluate effectiveness Contrasting Paradigms : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Contrasting Paradigms Traditional paradigm Builds on scientific and quantitative knowledge Alternative paradigm Incorporates subjective, intuitive, and qualitative information Reflects feminism and diversity Recognizes interconnectedness of humans Key Perspectives: Ecosystems : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Key Perspectives: Ecosystems Combines concepts from ecology and general systems theory Describes transactional relationships between persons and environments Consistent with various theories of human behavior Key Perspectives: Constructivism : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Key Perspectives: Constructivism Reality is constructed Gives option to interpret events in ways that enhance power Key Perspectives: Social Constructionism : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Key Perspectives: Social Constructionism Describes reality as socially constructed Emphasizes culture and social position in the construction of meaning Interventions Reinterpret socially generated "truths" Advocate social and political changes Key Perspectives: Social Constructivism : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Key Perspectives: Social Constructivism Interchangeable use of constructionism and social constructionism Coining of term, social constructivism, unites these views Key Perspectives: Feminism : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Key Perspectives: Feminism Gender: organizing concept Collaborative, nonhierarchical relationships Refraining from applying stigmatizing labels Working toward empowerment Recognizing feminine traits as strengths (Whipple) Ecosystems Perspective : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Ecosystems Perspective Ways that environments affect people Ways people affect their environments Humans in Context : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Humans in Context Humans Biological, psychological, spiritual, social, and cultural beings Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors Initiators of actions Responders to environments Transactions : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Transactions Reciprocal interactions "Person:environment" connections Sources of energy that sustain human system functioning and fuel change Development as Evolutionary Change : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Development as Evolutionary Change What happens around us affects what happens within us How we affect what goes on around us depends a lot on what happens in us Goodness-of-Fit : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Goodness-of-Fit Maintaining a comfortable balance between system and environment Mutual benefits for the system and the people / situations around it View of Dysfunction : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon View of Dysfunction Removes the blame from clients Defines problems as transactional Problems are gaps between available resources and environmental demands Ecologically Oriented Social Work Practice : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Ecologically Oriented Social Work Practice Change and maintain both client and environmental systems Determine multiple possibilities for change Alter part of any transaction to affect the other transactional elements Focus on building strengths and system competencies Human Systems : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Human Systems System - group of interacting and interdependent people or parts Holons - all systems are composed of smaller systems and contained within larger systems Subsystems - systems within a system Environments - larger systems encompassing a system Structural View : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Structural View Boundaries distinguish interior from environment Vary in permeability Separate people within a given system Hierarchy delineates Status Privileges Power Interactional View : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Interactional View Equilibrium - maintain patterns to promote stability Feedback - information that maintains or disrupts a system’s patterns Mutual causality - behavior mutually determined in interactions with others Wholeness - change in one part of a system creates changes in the whole Biopsychosocial Dimensions : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Biopsychosocial Dimensions People are able to make choices about How they view themselves How they view events At all system levels, cognitive and affective dimensions hold promise for change Cultural Influences : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Cultural Influences Cultural memberships affect the way others treat us Generalizations may obscure individual differences Ecosystems: A Conceptual Framework for Practice : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Ecosystems: A Conceptual Framework for Practice Identify the focal system. What’s happening in the system? What’s happening outside the system? How do the inside and outside connect? How does the system change through time? Focal System : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Focal System Point of reference Varies, depending on the purpose or activity Can be a client system or other target system in the environment What's happening inside the system? : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon What's happening inside the system? Structural perspective: membership, boundaries, and hierarchies Interactional view: communication patterns and maintaining balance Biopsychosocial dimensions: physical health, thoughts, and feelings Cultural influences: values, beliefs, attitudes, and norms What's happening outside the system? : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon What's happening outside the system? Ecosystem - set of environmental systems Examine the ecosystem's structures, interactions, and sociocultural dimensions Account for the focal system's behavior Note possible targets for intervention How do the inside and outside connect? : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon How do the inside and outside connect? Competent functioning depends on successful interaction with environment Analyze Structural dimensions Interactional features Biopsychosocial characteristics Cultural characteristics How does the system move through time? : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon How does the system move through time? Dynamic state of constant change Expected developmental - occurs naturally Unexpected - nodal events Applying the Ecosystems Framework : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Applying the Ecosystems Framework Relationship Assessment Planning and implementing change Reflecting Back : Copyright © 2001 Allyn and Bacon Reflecting Back Consider how theory fits into your practice. How will you choose among conflicting conceptualizations of what is going on and how it might change?

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