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An analysis of two theories: Solution-focused therapy and ecological systems theory

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Paul B.
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  1. Introduction.
  2. The core values underpinning social work.
  3. Theories within social science: Expansion or a modification.
  4. Ecological systems theory.
    1. The ecological perspective.
    2. Using the ecological perspective.
  5. Ecomap.
    1. Components of the ecomap.
    2. The graphing of an ecomap.
  6. Practice with the view of the client as expert.
  7. Solution-focused therapy.
    1. Design of the thoery.
    2. Steps towards the ultimate goal.
  8. Working with the individual.
  9. Conclusion.
  10. Bibliography.

In this assignment I will demonstrate my knowledge of two selected theories, discussing how they contrast, how they may overlap and possibly even work well together. I will begin by looking at what a theory is and the nature of the relationship between theory and practice. I have chosen to use two quite contrasting theories, namely Solution-focused therapy and the Ecological Systems theory. In looking at both theories I will identify their underlying values and discuss how these values may either support or conflict with social work values. I will discuss how these theories would guide my practice and the implications and limitations they may also have within practice. Social work, within itself, does not have a theory of its own. It is guided by theories borrowed from different disciplines within social science fields. Much of the theoretical knowledge learned and practiced within social work is either psychologically or sociologically based.

[...] This theory arose from a general systems theory of the biological sciences which attempts to explain the general principles for how all systems work, with an emphasis on living systems. Social psychologists later adapted this idea to enable an understanding of how human systems work and how individuals are affected by the integrated systems around them. Ecolological systems theory attempts to understand human development and how it can be explained by the interactions between people and society. It sets out to explain how a human's biological disposition and environmental forces come together to shape their development. [...]


[...] According to Bronfenbrenner (cited in Berk 2000:27) these systems are ?bi-directional' and influences take place when individuals and groups of individuals interact and directly affect others who exist within the same layer, as well as those who are in the layers on either side of them.' Ecological systems theory, although having its roots in social psychology, is a good example of how social science ideologies overlap. This theory appears to take a sociological stance, in that human development is explained in terms of how the individual interacts with society. [...]


[...] This theory would expect me to work with the belief that the client needs help find evidence to contradict the oppressive theory they hold about themselves' and that, as the individual becomes ?more focused on ?what works' or that helps them, they can begin to disguard unhelpful attitudes and behaviours.' (O'Connell 2003:4) Although, in principle, the underlying values of this theory are of empowerment and enabling, in practice they could possibly have the opposite affect. By placing all emphasis on the individual's ability to change their ?oppressive theories they hold about themselves' (O'Connell 2003:4) is assuming that the oppression individuals face is of their own making. [...]

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