Task-Centered Practice

Tina L. Rzepnicki

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online July 2012 | | DOI:
Task-Centered Practice

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The task-centered approach to social work, developed by William J. Reid (b. 1928–d. 2003) and Laura Epstein (b. 1914–d. 1996) at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration in the 1970s, directly challenged traditional notions of psychodynamic practice and became one of the most influential practice models in the period that followed. A prototype of what today is called “evidence-based practice,” its research has been central to its emergence and ongoing evolution: first, by calling on the practitioner to make use of empirical knowledge in practice and to evaluate systematically the outcomes of problem-solving efforts; and second, by designing the model in such a way that its operations and outcomes could be systematically evaluated and the model revised. The central principles of task-centered practice have been folded into basic social work textbooks, even as it continues to develop as a discrete model and to be disseminated internationally. It is a brief, structured, and systematic approach to help clients resolve problems in living. Its hallmarks include these principal features: placing the social worker and the client on more equal footing by addressing a limited set of target problems of high interest to the client and eliciting the client’s agreement on desired outcomes and means for achieving them; action-based problem-solving steps that are carefully planned and implemented between sessions; regular problem/task review and evaluation; and planned termination. The task-centered model has been built on basic tenets of eclecticism, drawing on a range of theories limited only by their ability to help in defining and assessing clients’ problems in living, to guide efforts to resolve these problems, and to be testable. The task-centered approach has been implemented and tested in a broad range of settings and with diverse client groups.

Article.  8997 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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