Week 11 | SOCW 6060 – Social Work Theory and Practice | Walden University

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Week 11: Reflecting on Your Theoretical Orientation

Throughout this course, you have explored an array of theories and models and the ways in which theories provide a framework to view and conceptualize the problem, the therapeutic change process, your role within this change process, and assessment and interventions.

By now, you may be asking what your own theoretical orientation is. Before you determine your theoretical orientation, you should be aware that your personal values, worldviews, life experiences, spiritual or religious perspectives, personality, and biases influence your choice of theoretical orientations. At the same time, remember that your choice of a theoretical orientation is not static. It can change and evolve as you continue your professional and personal life journey. And, if you choose to conduct research and pursue doctoral education, you may even contribute to the body of knowledge upon which theories are built.

This week, you reflect on how theory affects you, and thereby affects your practice.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Determine theoretical orientation(s) that are most appealing and comfortable to apply in social work practice
  • Determine theoretical orientation(s) that are most challenging to apply in social work practice
  • Reflect on how personal values and worldviews influence the choice(s) of a theoretical orientation

Photo Credit: Philipp Nemenz / Cultura / 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

Pruitt, N. T. (2014). From dodo bird to mindfulness: The effect of theoretical orientation on work and self. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 70(8), 753–759. doi:10.1002/jclp.22110

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

Coleman, D. (2008). Theoretical evaluation self-test: An interactive test of theoretical orientation for mental health clinicians or graduate students. Retrieved from http://web.pdx.edu/~dcoleman/test.html

Optional Resources

Coleman, D. (2003). Learning about therapy theories: An empirical test of an experiential technique. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 23(3/4), 73-89. https://doi.org/10.1300/J067v23n03_07

Discussion: Reflection

Developing self-awareness starts with taking time to reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses, what distresses you, and what you find most comfortable in social work practice with your clients and colleagues. You have read about many theories and models at this point. There may have been theories and models that you were more inclined to use. Or there may have been theories and models you were not comfortable using.

The Theoretical Evaluation Self-Test (TEST) was developed by Daniel Coleman. It is a quantitative instrument that measures a therapist’s theoretical orientation. It consists of 30 close-ended statements with a 7-point Likert scale, asking the extent of agreement about “psychotherapy, the human psyche, and the therapeutic process” (Coleman, 2003, p. 74). The seven theoretical orientations that are measured are psychodynamic, biological, family systems, ecosystems, cognitive, pragmatic, and humanistic.

Coleman (2003) cautions that the TEST is not meant to give therapists a conclusive and definitive sense of their theoretical orientation. Rather, the goal is to promote self-reflection about their personal tendencies toward approaching therapy.

For this Discussion, you take the TEST to stimulate self-reflection. You will also take some time to reflect on all the different theories and models covered in this course.

To prepare: Take the TEST. There is both a web-based version, noted in the Learning Resources, and a paper version of the TEST.

By Day 3

Post:

  • After taking the TEST, post your results.
  • Explain in 2 to 3 sentence the extent to which you were surprised or not surprised by the TEST results, and explain the reasons why you were surprised or not surprised.
  • After looking back at the array of theories and models that were covered in this course, identify the top three theories or models that most appealed to you.
  • Explain in 3 to 4 sentences how your personal values, worldviews, life experiences, and/or your personality influenced your selection of the top three theories or models.
  • In this course, you were asked to select one case study to use throughout the entire course. Describe this experience—for example, the degree to which it was helpful to focus on one case, what you learned, what could perhaps be done differently.
By Day 5

Respond to two colleagues in one of the following ways:

  • Compare your TEST results or other aspects of your post with your colleague’s responses.
  • Provide suggestions for how your colleague could connect their theoretical orientation to future courses, in the discipline, and/or in practice.
  • Share an insight you learned from another colleague in this Discussion or from earlier in the course.

Responses

 Seantelle Hill RE: Discussion – Week 11 AttachmentCOLLAPSE

SUBSCALE

YOUR SCORE

SAMPLE OF 130

mean (SD)

Psychodynamic

 32

26.2 (5.2)

Biological

 21

14.6 (4.0)

Family

 20

18.2 (4.0)

Ecosystems

 25

24.2 (2.6)

Cognitive

 30

25 (4.5)

Pragmatic

 27

20.1 (5.7)

Humanistic

 17

10.4 (2.4)

Explain in 2 to 3 sentence the extent to which you were surprised or not surprised by the TEST results, and explain the reasons why you were surprised or not surprised.

I am not surprised to have a higher preference for psychodynamic, cognitive, and pragmatic. In pragmatism, if an aspect brings the desired outcomes, then it can be said to be true. What surprised me most is the low preference for humanistic while I would assert that the self-image and inner feelings of an individual determines his/her behavior.

After looking back at the array of theories and models that were covered in this course, identify the top three theories or models that most appealed to you.

The theories that appealed to me most are cognitive-behavioral theory and feminist theory. The life Model was appealing, especially in its applicability to immigrants to help them cope and improve their environment fit.

Explain in 3 to 4 sentences how your personal values, worldviews, life experiences, and/or your personality influenced your selection of the top three theories or models.

These theories would be a good guide to helping my clients, who may have different needs. Some of my values guiding their selection are service to humanity and to aid in upholding human worth and dignity. I am empathetic about immigrants who go a lot in a new country and also about those who face inequalities in life. This theories and model would allow a demonstration of my competency, effectiveness, and satisfaction for having helped someone.

In this course, you were asked to select one case study to use throughout the entire course. Describe this experience—for example, the degree to which it was helpful to focus on one case, what you learned, what could perhaps be done differently.

I chose the case of Tiffani, and it has indeed been helpful to see how a single case can be approached from different perspectives. The case has enabled me to apply different theories like cognitive behavioral theory and feminist. I have also had an opportunity to read other theories being applied to the same case by my classmates, such as empowerment theory. Although there were three cases, I think most of us had the preference of Tiffani’s case and this limited reading different theoretical applications and views from colleagues in other cases.  Most importantly, I have gained a lot on how I would practically apply these theories in specific cases.

REPLY QUOTE EMAIL AUTHOR 5 hours agoEbony Mcennis RE: Discussion – Week 11 AttachmentCOLLAPSE

Results: 

Response:

1.  Explain in 2 to 3 sentence the extent to which you were surprised or not surprised by the TEST results, and explain the reasons why you were surprised or not surprised?

– I actually wasn’t surprised with my results because I believe our mind holds the key to so many factors within our life. We tell ourselves different stories rather be from personal experience or trauma which ultimately set the foundation for either dysfunction or resilience.

2.  After looking back at the array of theories and models that were covered in this course, identify the top three theories or models that most appealed to you.

–  The top three theories would be CBT, Psycho dynamic, and Systems theory. When it comes to models the three that are top category for me are Crisis intervention model, Task-centered practice and Problem solving model. 

3.  Explain in 3 to 4 sentences how your personal values, world views, life experiences, and/or your personality influenced your selection of the top three theories or models.

      – I believe that my mind is beyond my understanding. It has the capacity to change the way I function as a human being. I believe that what we tell ourselves truly makes a difference in our mental health and psychological well-being. I remember many things or situations in my past and environment that have cause me to view things differently. I try to stay close to my values and also world views but I am learning as I educate myself more I am finding that my views evolve and are expanding and growing as I do.

4.  In this course, you were asked to select one case study to use throughout the entire course. Describe this experience—for example, the degree to which it was helpful to focus on one case, what you learned, what could perhaps be done differently.

– I chose the Tiffani Bradley case and this case was exceptionally hard and also rewarding. It was really tough learning that someone who hasn’t fully lived has experienced so much pain. Even though the case presented a lot of issues I also enjoyed the chance to work on therapy options and case management and building some rapport with Tiffani and helping her overcome her issues. I will definitely not forget this case it helped a lot to use the theories and models and actually apply them to real world situations.  I also think I could have explored more holistic options.

Reference:

Coleman, D. (2008). Theoretical evaluation self-test: An interactive test of theoretical orientation for mental health clinicians or graduate students. Retrieved fromhttp://web.pdx.edu/~dcoleman/test.html

REPLY QUOTE EMAIL AUTHOR