*****Respond to two colleagues by explaining any challenges your colleagues might encounter when working with a client and the client’s family in acclimating to the client’s recent diagnosis as described by your colleagues. Offer a suggestion for resolving the challenges you described from a strengths perspective, if applicable.
Colleague 1: Brian
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness affecting about 1% of the American population currently. Diagnosis typically occurs during the early 20’s of an individual’s life. However, this illness can be unveiled at any time in a person’s life. The 20 year old client in this week’s scenario may experience disruptions with his/her occupational capacities, emotional, cognitive as well as psychosocial functioning abilities. In some cases, a patient might experience times where he/she is unable to distinguish what is factual and what is imaginary. These are some of the considerations the social worker must be cognizant of when aiding clients who have been recently diagnosed with schizophrenia. This disorder does not affect only patient but also those who are close to them, such as their families (nami.org, n.d). These are factors that the social worker will have to address with this patient who has recently been diagnosed with the schizophrenia disorder.
There are several approaches for social workers to consider when working with clients and their families who are in this position. One method is the strength-based model. This particular tool enables social workers to recognize these patients—as do those with other disorders—have the ability to overcome or increase management of the issues that revolves around this disorder. This is accomplished by tapping into their own personal strengths they possess. Literature review on the effectiveness of strengths-based approach suggests patients have strengths within themselves that have the potential for positive contributions in the illness’s management processes (Deegan, 2004).
The role for the social worker is to prepare the client and family for the anticipated changes, including the introduction of therapeutic interventions. This educational process includes assisting the patient and their families to remain grounded so that they will be able to process impetrative information needed for this new transition. The first step, as mentioned earlier, is for the social worker to distinguish patient’s strengths. In doing so, the social worker will be mindful be mindful of their strengths when crafting the treatment plan and conveying it during the educational process. A possible strength the client might possess is music and/or art. Their interventions can include the participation in activities that includes these strengths, for example, and as a result foster coping skills for this new change in their lives (Bisbee & Vickar, 2012).
During the course of identifying the client’s strengths, developing a holistic intervention approaches and providing education to both client and family, it would be advantageous for the social worker to be acquainted with the developmental considerations as they relate to schizophrenia. This will enhance the abilities of the social worker further in the education process to address factors including grief and loss that might be experienced. This can be accomplished through the use of Erickson’s Life Stages. If we coordinate the “typical” age frame when schizophrenia is diagnosed—in the early 20’s, for example—with stage 5 of Erickson’s theory, we will recognize the initial signs for concerns; in this case as it relates to their own identity development. This could possibly continue on and affect their intimacy and love capabilities as well and their levels of trust. Deficiency in any of these elements could create and magnify grief as they are feeling a sense of loss. It is important to note the client’s experience through Erickson’s Model might be different as compared to other patients. This is based on resiliency, support structure and strengths of the client (Vogel-Scibilia et. al, 2009).
Bisbee CC, Vickar GM. A review of psychoeducation for patients with schizophrenia. Psychiatric Annals. 2012; 42:205–210.
Deegan P. Recovery: The lived experience of rehabilitation. Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal . 2004; 2(4):11–9.
Vogel-Scibilia, S. E., McNulty, K. C., Baxter, B., Miller, S., Dine, M., & Frese, F. J. (2009). The Recovery Process Utilizing Erikson’s Stages of Human Development. Community Mental Health Journal, 45(6), 405–414. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-009-9189-4
What is Schizophrenia? National Alliance on Mental Illness. Nami.org. Retrieved 20 September 2017, from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia.
Colleague 2: Tyshia
I would hold a family session explaining what schizophrenia is, and how it may affect my patient and the family. “It is very important to understand that families who have had a member experience serious mental health problems perceive that there has been a great change in their family member. This change has been experienced as loss, as has been observed in other studies of families’ responses to mental illness” (Jones, 2004). I would also refer them to a support group for family impacted by the diagnosis if needed. I would do an assessment to find out if there is issue with stress, especially if there are children in the home. Somers explains “There is also a belief that the child is at risk of physical abuse by the parent who has mental health problems. In the USA, children of mothers with schizophrenia were more likely to have their children removed from their care than depressed or well mothers If it is founded that this is a concern, would work with my client to come up with coping skills to help manage their stress” (Somers, 2007). I would point out what the parent is doing right in the situation, like seeking professional help, and utilizing their coping skills. I in including a clinical team of doctors, and psychiatrist allows the client to be treated with the medical mode. “The medical model has helped reduce the blame and stigma toward the families of individuals with schizophrenia as causing or contributing to the illness. Thus, many families no longer feel blamed for causing the disorder” Beecher (2009).
Beecher, B. (2009). The medical model, mental health practitioners, and individuals with schizophrenia and their families. Journal of Social Work Practice, 23(1), 9–20.
Jones, D. (2004). Families and serious mental illness: working with loss and ambivalence. British Journal Of Social Work, 34(7), 961-979.
Somers, V. (2007). Schizophrenia: The Impact of Parental Illness on Children. British Journal Of Social Work, 37(8), 1319-1134.
******Respond to a colleague who has chosen a social problem that is different from the one you selected, addressing the following:
• Offer an explanation of how public opinion can be influenced to address the problem identified by your colleague.
• Suggest policy advocacy approaches and skills he or she can use to address the problem with political leaders.
• Comment on the social justice implications of the approach or approaches you suggested.
Public Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage
Public opinion is a good way to understand why the community is divided on the social problem. For instance, people can be supportive of same-sex marriage as they believe in equal rights and treatment for all and others may disagree because of religion, culture or personal beliefs. Public opinion is often used to display how a community feels regarding a certain social problem. Public opinions are particularly helpful in determining how many people are affected by the problem and the impact the problem has on the community (Community Toolbox, 2016).
Influence on Politics
Public opinions are important to politicians and bureaucrats because scandals and “unpopular decisions” that can damage reputation or popularity amongst the community (Jansson, 2018). The social problem that I have chosen is same-sex marriage. Public opinion is important to the subject of same-sex marriage as many people have strong opinions regarding this. Jansson (2018) suggested that public opinions can have a strong influence on a politician’s career and possibly tarnish or break an administration. Therefore, in social problems such as same-sex marriage it is not unusual to see legislators support or takes sides within the social problem to please the community.
Advocacy and Skills
As an advocate, there are many ways to address this problem with political leaders including recruiting others who share similar opinions to join your advocacy team. Jansson (2018) also includes that making personal contact with voters by networking or campaigning is a great way to bring awareness to your social problem. Social workers can contact their state officials by email, phone or personal visit to bring awareness to the social problem as well. Social workers can partner up with local agencies with similar interests for support, education and funding if necessary. Jansson (2018) suggests that merging agencies often occur when they share similar beliefs that cause their missions to overlap. The social justice implications of the strategies listed above forces social workers to take a stand for one side, more often the side that promotes social justice and reflects the values and ethics in social work. Therefore, social workers typically work and advocate for oppressed or marginalized groups, which in this case would be the equal treatment of same-sex relationships/marriages. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) stress the importance of taking political actions on social problems that target oppressed groups, therefore giving social workers the ethical responsibility to advocate for equal rights (Rome & Hoechstetter, 2010). With the support and help of social workers, awareness of the same-sex issues can help bring equality and fair treatment.
Community Toolbox. (2016). 2. Assessing community needs and resources. Retrieved from
Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice. (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning Series.
Rome, S. H., & Hoechstetter, S. (2010). Social work and civic engagement: The political participation of professional social workers. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 37(3), 107-129. Retrieved from Walden Library databases.
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