Solution-Focused and Task-Centered Models

Week 9: Solution-Focused and Task-Centered Models

Solution-focused and task-centered models fall into the tradition of therapies that are structured, focused, and brief. Both models lend themselves to working with individuals, families, groups, and communities. In addition, both models lend themselves well to utilizing other theories for implementing solutions or tasks.

As the name implies, the solution-focused model emphasizes that solutions can be found within the clients themselves. In other words, the client has the answers, and the role of the social worker is to help them find the answers or solution to the problem. Because of the emphasis on finding solutions, the focus is on the present rather than the past. The question becomes, What is the current problem, and what solutions can be implemented to resolve the problem? This is very different from theories such as psychoanalytical theory where the social worker focuses on the past. For instance, theories that focus on the past emphasize the social worker helping the client figure out what in the past triggered the current problem.

Similarly, as the name connotes, the task-centered model emphasizes assisting clients to clarify what the problem is and to identify and break down the tasks that need to be implemented to resolve the problem (Reid, 1997). For each stage of the helping process, there are tasks to be identified and covered.

This week, you apply these two additional models—solution-focused and task-centered—to practice.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Apply the solution-focused model and the task-centered model to social work practice
  • Evaluate the strength and limitations of the solution-focused model and the task-centered model to social work practice

Photo Credit: [ismagilov]/[iStock / Getty Images Plus]/Getty Images

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (6th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Chapter 35: Solution-Focused Theory (pp. 513–531)
Chapter 36: Task-Centered Social Work (pp. 532–552)

Westefeld, J. S., & Heckman-Stone, C. (2003). The integrated problem-solving model of crisis intervention: Overview and application. The Counseling Psychologist, 31(2), 221–239. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1177/0011000002250638

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Document: Theory Into Practice: Four Social Work Case Studies (PDF)

Document: Kaltura Personal Capture – QuickStart Guide (PDF)

Required Media

Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2014). Counseling and psychotherapy theories in context and practice [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.psychotherapy.net.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/stream/waldenu/video?vid=277

This week, watch the “Solution-Focused Therapy” segment by clicking the applicable link under the “Chapters” tab.

Note: You will access this video from the Walden Library databases.

Optional Resources

Johnson, S. D., & Williams, S.-L. (2015). Solution-focused strategies for effective sexual health communication among African American parents and their adolescents. Health & Social Work, 40(4), 267–274. https://doi.org/10.1093/hsw/hlv056

Myer, R. A., Lewis, J. S., & James, R.K. (2013). The introduction of a task model for crisis intervention. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 35(2), 95–107. https://doi.org/10.17744/mehc.35.2.nh322x3547475154

Reid, W. J. (1997). Research on task-centered practice. Journal of Social Work Research, 21(3), 132–137. https://doi.org/10.1093/swr/21.3.132

Discussion: Solution-Focused Model: Asking Questions

Social workers who utilize the solution-focused model are mindful of how their conversations with their clients, families, groups, or even community members facilitate their thinking about solutions. The client is always the “expert,” and therefore social workers ask questions to explore how the client perceives the problem and situation.

Social workers may use solution-focused questions such as the miracle question. For example, “Suppose you woke up one morning and by some miracle everything you ever wanted, everything good you could ever imagine for yourself, had actually happened—your life had turned out exactly the way you wanted it. What would be different in your life?” When clients are asked this, it forces them to reflect on what they want or would like to achieve. By projecting themselves into the future, clients are more likely to imagine what is possible rather than focusing on the past and their failures. This allows for the possibility of developing solutions.

In this Discussion, you apply the solution-focused model and solution-focused questions. You provide other solution-focused questions, similar to the miracle question that was provided for you.

Although the textbook provides actual examples of solution-focused questions, always think about your client—you may have to modify the question a bit to take into account the client’s age, cognitive and developmental stage, culture, etc., so that the question makes sense to the client.

To prepare:

  • Recall a case from your fieldwork experience to use for this Discussion.
  • Review and focus on pages 520–521 in your textbook.
By Day 3

Post:

  • In 1 to 2 sentences, briefly identify and describe the problem as perceived by the client, family, or group that you dealt with in your past fieldwork experience.
  • From the list of solution-focused questions on page 520 (e.g., exception questions, coping questions, scaling questions, and relationship questions), identify two different types of questions, and ask each question as if you were actually asking the questions to the client. (Remember, do not use the miracle question.)
    • Remember that the goal of these questions is to assist clients in identifying a solution
  • Explain how asking these two questions would help the client in coming up with the solution.
  • In 1 to 2 sentences, reflect and explain how asking these questions made you feel and perhaps how the client might feel.
By Day 5

Respond to two colleagues:

  • Identify a barrier that might make it difficult to implement the solution-focused model with the client described.
  • Discuss how a social worker could help a client re-focus on the present, rather than on their past.
Submission and Grading Information
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:
Week 9 Discussion Rubric

Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 5

To participate in this Discussion:
Week 9 Discussion

Final Case Assignment: Application of the Problem-Solving Model and Theoretical Orientation to a Case Study

The problem-solving model was first laid out by Helen Perlman. Her seminal 1957 book, Social Casework: A Problem-Solving Process, described the problem-solving model and the 4Ps. Since then, other scholars and practitioners have expanded the problem-solving model and problem-solving therapy. At the heart of problem-solving model and problem-solving therapy is helping clients identify the problem and the goal, generating options, evaluating the options, and then implementing the plan.

Because models are blueprints and are not necessarily theories, it is common to use a model and then identify a theory to drive the conceptualization of the client’s problem, assessment, and interventions. Take, for example, the article by Westefeld and Heckman-Stone (2003). Note how the authors use a problem-solving model as the blueprint in identifying the steps when working with clients who have experienced sexual assault. On top of the problem-solving model, the authors employed crisis theory, as this theory applies to the trauma of going through sexual assault. Observe how, starting on page 229, the authors incorporated crisis theory to their problem-solving model.

In this Final Case Assignment, using the same case study that you chose in Week 2, you will use the problem-solving model AND a theory from the host of different theoretical orientations you have used for the case study.

You will prepare a PowerPoint presentation consisting of 11 to 12 slides, and you will use the Personal Capture function of Kaltura to record both audio and video of yourself presenting your PowerPoint presentation.

To prepare:

  • Review and focus on the case study that you chose in Week 2.
  • Review the problem-solving model, focusing on the five steps of the problem-solving model formulated by D’Zurilla on page 388 in the textbook.
  • In addition, review this article listed in the Learning Resources: Westefeld, J. S., & Heckman-Stone, C. (2003). The integrated problem-solving model of crisis intervention: Overview and application. The Counseling Psychologist, 31(2), 221–239. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1177/0011000002250638
By Day 7

Upload your Kaltura video of you presenting your PowerPoint presentation that addresses the following:

  • Identify the theoretical orientation you have selected to use.
  • Describe how you would assess the problem orientation of the client in your selected case study (i.e., how the client perceives the problem). Remember to keep the theoretical orientation in mind in this assessment stage.
  • Discuss the problem definition and formulation based on the theoretical orientation you have selected.
  • Identify and describe two solutions from all the solutions possible. Remember, some of these solutions should stem from the theoretical orientation you are utilizing.
  • Describe how you would implement the solution. Remember to keep the theoretical orientation in mind.
  • Describe the extent to which the client is able to mobilize the solutions for change.
  • Discuss how you would evaluate whether the outcome is achieved or not. Remember to keep the theoretical orientation in mind.
  • Evaluate how well the problem-solving model can be used for short-term treatment of this client.
  • Evaluate one merit and one limitation of using the problem-solving model for this case.

Your 11- to 12-slide PowerPoint presentation should follow these guidelines:

  • Each slide should be written using bullet points, meaning no long paragraphs of written text should be in the slides.
  • Include a brief narration for each slide (i.e., the narration takes the place of any written paragraphs, while the bullet points provide context and cues for the audience to follow along).
  • Record both audio and video for presentation.

Question related to this discussion

How do folks think that technology is impacting the field as it relates to our discussion question this week?

Responses

Angelica Wiggins RE: Discussion – Week 9COLLAPSE

In 1 to 2 sentences, briefly identify and describe the problem as perceived by the client, family, or group that you dealt with in your past fieldwork experience.

As previously mentioned, I have not completed my fieldwork experience. I plan to complete it in the Fall. I will use the client in the case study that I have used throughout this course, the case of Tiffani Bradley.

The presenting problem in this case is the fact that Tiffani, a 16-year-old Caucasian female, has a history of running away due to past experiences of molestation and emotional, physical, mental and sexual abuse.

From the list of solution-focused questions on page 520 (e.g., exception questions, coping questions, scaling questions, and relationship questions), identify two different types of questions, and ask each question as if you were actually asking the questions to the client. (Remember, do not use the miracle question.). Remember that the goal of these questions is to assist clients in identifying a solution.

Coping questions attempt to help the client shift his/her focus away from the problem elements and toward what the client is doing to survive the painful or stressful circumstances (The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center, n.d.).

A coping question for Tiffani would be: You say that you’re not sure whether you want to return home with your family or Donald. What have you found that is helpful in managing this situation?

Scaling questions invite the clients to put their observations, impressions, and predictions on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being no chance, and 10 being every chance. Questions need to be specific, citing specific times and circumstances (The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center, n.d.).

A scaling question for Tiffani would be: On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no chance and 10 being every chance, how likely is it that you will be able to say “No” to Donald when he asks you to come back home with him?

Explain how asking these two questions would help the client in coming up with the solution.

These questions would help Tiffani in coming up with the solution because they will force her to identify and address her feelings and experiences. They would also hold her accountable for her outcomes.

In 1 to 2 sentences, reflect and explain how asking these questions made you feel and perhaps how the client might feel.

These questions helped me to reflect on personal experiences and to view them in the light of a client.

Reference

The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center. (n.d.). Solution-Focused Interviewing Skills & Questions. Retrieved online from http://www.pacwrc.pitt.edu/Curriculum/301EngggClntsFrmAnSBSFPrspctv/Hndts/HO_9_Solu

Seantelle Hill RE: Discussion – Week 9COLLAPSE

Briefly identify and describe the problem as perceived by the client.

For this discussion, I will still apply my previous case from the Hispanic American family that I encountered. Both parents, immigrants from Mexico, faced challenges in finding work that suits their academic qualification. Each of them had a bachelors degree. This made it hard for them to sustain their family from rare manual jobs besides other challenges that they faced as immigrants.

Solution-focused questions

The questions that I would ask these parents are;

Scaling question: On a scale of 1-10,  how optimistic are you that you will find a job here in the US?

Coping question: How are you managing life to be who/where you are now in this country?

Explain how asking these two questions would help the client in coming up with the solution.

In the scaling question, I would ask the clients the reason behind choosing their number. This question will help understand the current optimism state of the clients and thus learn what needs to be changed to move up the scale. To get to this point, I would engage the client in dialogue and for instance, if they chose a level of three, suggest if they moved higher with .5 how they feel, more hopeful? More optimistic? The scaling question and the consequent ones that would follow would help the clients feel more motivated, more hopeful, and more optimistic about finding work in the US (Turner, 2017). The main aim would be to help the clients move up the scale as small changes would contribute to a bigger change.

In the coping question, it would aid in reducing tension and acknowledge the approach (resources and skills) that the clients are using to make it currently (Turner, 2017). This question will help map the way forward to prevent the situation from getting worse while working towards a better solution.

In 1 to 2 sentences, reflect and explain how asking these questions made you feel and perhaps how the client might feel.

Asking these questions made me feel that I focused on the solution to the problem rather than dwelling on the problem itself. The clients will feel that they have imagined a possible future of finding relevant jobs by, for instance, scaling up. This would make them feel motivated to enhance realistic goals to attain employment within the country.

References

Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2011). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (6th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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