Excerpt from SWES Comprehensive Study Guide



Beginning Stage

  • Establishing a positive therapeutic relationship
    • Characteristics of the worker - Non possessive warmth and concern, genuineness, empathy, nonjudgmental acceptance, optimism about the possibilities for change, objectivity regarding the client and the client's situation, professional knowledge and competence, the capacity to communicate the foregoing to the client, and self-awareness.
    • Needs of the client - Hope and courage to engage in the change process, motivation to change, trust in the worker's desire and competence to help, to be dealt with as an individual rather than a case, personality type, or category, to express self, to be accepted as a person of worth, to make one's own choices, and to move at one's own pace.

  • Contracting
    • The contract in theory.
      • Compatible with various models of social work practice; not limited to an initial working agreement, but part of the total social work process.
      • Considered helpful in facilitating client's activity in problem solving, worker's focus, and continuance in therapy.
    • Definition - An explicit agreement between the worker and client regarding target problems, goals and strategies of social work intervention, and the roles and tasks of the participants. Includes:
      • Mutual agreement - Must be established at start and monitored throughout to avoid hidden agendas.
      • Differentiated participation - Worker is responsible to delineate unique aspects of their participation at each phase of the process.
      • Reciprocal accountability - Each is accountable to the other for fulfilling agreed upon work towards agreed upon goals.
      • Explicitness - Work is specific, clear and open. No double agendas, implicit or covert contracts, or discrepant client-worker expectations.
      • Realistic - Agreement is within the capacities of client and worker.
      • Flexibility - To guard against rigidity, include provisions for renegotiation by mutual consent.


Research is systematic study designed to add to or verify existing knowledge. It is different from practice theory in that it relies on standardized, formal procedures in the search for new knowledge. Standardized means the use of systematic and orderly procedures for collecting data; that the procedures are described in detail; that the procedures can be replicated by others.


Research is a process involving many steps. These are:

  • Problem Formulation - The process by which researchers develop a precise statement that can be operationalized. The problem formulation must be stated in way that ultimately lends itself to measurement. The research problem is connected through a literature search to other related problems and knowledge i.e., research is cumulative.
    • Development of questions or hypotheses for study - This includes the development of conceptual frameworks and operational concepts.
    • Selection of a study design to guide the collection of data.
      • Selection of a study design incorporates many concerns.
        • The research resources available
        • The level of certainty needed by the consumers of the research.
        • Whether human subjects are involved.
        • The time available.
      • Ethical concerns
        • Research cannot lead to harming clients.
        • Denial of an intervention may constitute harm
        • Informed consent
        • Confidentiality
  • Methodology - This includes selecting measurement techniques to be used, the setting where the research is to be conducted, and the population or group to be studied.