Journal Article

The Practitioner and ‘Naïve Theory’ in Social Work Intervention Processes

ERIC OLSSON and JENNY LJUNGHILL

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 27, issue 6, pages 931-950
Published in print December 1997 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online December 1997 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.bjsw.a011286
The Practitioner and ‘Naïve Theory’ in Social Work Intervention Processes

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Research in social work has often taken for granted that methods of intervention in this area are well defined. Few studies analyse or give detailed descriptions of how the work is really constructed. This issue is explored, starting from the social worker's personal frame of reference. By introspective examination of individual cases, eighty-eight social workers defined their own ‘naïve theories’ about the explanation of the client's problem and how to give adequate help. Eight categories of explanation and six different methods of intervention are here defined. These theories are found to be quite different from traditional professional descriptions and show a substantial variation between occupational groups. Personal experiences, education, and the influence of the employing organization (‘diagnostic culture’) interact in the construction of the ‘naïve theories’. They constitute important aspects of the interaction dynamics between social workers and their clients which need to be further investigated.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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