Contrasting Problem-Solving and Strengths-Based Approach

Social Work Practice

Contrasting Problem-Solving and Strengths-Based Approach

The strengths-based approach has changed social work theory and practice. The approach mainly focuses on an individual’s self-determination and strength. Tong (2001) argues that the strengths-based approach sees clients as resourceful and resilient when they are in adverse conditions. Thus, the approach helps them to build on their strengths. Another unique aspect of the strengths-based approach is that it focuses on convincing clients to effect change in themselves. To achieve this, the approach requires clients to be in the right state of mind and be positive in their thoughts to provide the right environment to effect the change in them. The approach is highly dependent on a client’s emotional and information processing. Tong (2011) argues that a strength-based approach provides habitable conditions for a client to realize the best and see what value they bring for themselves (Tong, 2011). Conversely, the traditional deficit-focused perspective over-emphasizes the clients’ problems and assumes that they are unable to build an effective intervening approach. The approach assumes that the social worker can name a client’s problems and design an effective intervening approach (Tong, 2011). Tong (2011) further argues that the approach subdues the clients’ opportunity and determination in overcoming various problems that they may be experiencing.

Social work theory and practice aim to create unity in a given society. Thus, the strengths-based approach is important in strengthening members of that community and building social capital. However, the traditional deficit-focused perspective may not be crucial to creating unity as it emphasizes the need to solve a particular social issue such as domestic violence. A strengths-based approach is of importance in solving a client’s problems. The approach focuses on clients’ strengths and allows them to make better decisions on what is best for them. I would use the approach to build the clients’ potential to help them realize what is best for them and what value they can bring by being themselves.

Practicing from a Strengths-Based Perspective

In Sherry’s case, the client experiences several problems, including financial challenges and constant assault by her current boyfriend and the father of the youngest child. Women are emotionally weak when they experience such problems. In this case, however, Sherry shows resilience by taking appropriate decisive actions. Sherry is constantly assaulted but still maintains an effective relationship with her current boyfriend and the father to her youngest child. The client waits for Karen for seven weeks to have her issue solved despite having reported her case early. Notwithstanding the client’s financial problems, Sherry finds a way to feed her children and take them to school (Unfried, 2010). Karen utilizes Sherry’s ability to make decisive decisions by encouraging her to take control of her problems.

Despite Sherry’s socio-economic status, Karen did not find a way to discriminate against her. Instead, the social worker focused on creating an effective relationship with the client. The relationship helped the social worker and client to come up with solutions for the case and boost Sherry’s confidence. If I were in Karen’s role, I would examine the client’s cultural backgrounds and identities to enhance awareness of her values and beliefs. I would use such information to build an effective relationship with the client.

Identifying Helping Skills in Involuntary Client Relationships

In Katy’s case, the client was a young adult who had delivered and was having problems with going back to school and taking care of the child at the same time. The client phoned Karen to inquire about the possibility of having a social worker assigned to her for three days per week. However, Karen did not answer at the time but called Katy after some time. Karen asked the client several questions leading to an ineffective social worker-client relationship. Building a better social worker-client relationship is one of the goals of social work theory and practice. Karen could have achieved this goal by not asking several questions and engaging her in informal conversations (De Boer & Coady, 2007). Engaging a client in a formal and strict conversation could end up being detrimental. Formal conversations can result in a poor social worker-client relationship. In preparation for the subsequent meeting with Katy, Karen could have collected some stories about other people who had experienced a similar situation. Karen could have used the stories to let Katy know that others had been in that situation too. There was no need for her to give up with the school to take care of the child. Instead, Karen could have advised Katy to leave her child at a daycare center while she goes back to school.

Child Protection in Practice

Children exposed to domestic violence are directly or indirectly affected. According to the John Howard Society of Alberta (2010), domestic violence and child maltreatment may negatively affect children’s development. Domestic violence and child maltreatment and negative effects on children have become a major concern in today’s society. Therefore, several provinces in Canada, including British Columbia (BC), have come up with policies to protect children from the effects of violence. BC enacted the Child, Family, and Community Service Act to protect children from any form of discrimination, abuse, or threats. Domestic violence should be included as a form of child maltreatment in the BC’s Child, Family, and Community Service Act because domestic violence can cause physical and emotional harm to children.

The policy would influence my action as a social worker by guiding me on what actions I should take to deal with cases related to child maltreatment. The BC child law urges the general public to report cases of child maltreatment or abuse to a court of law (Schreiber, Fuller & Paceley, 2013). In the situation of Raisa and Valentina, both are under 19 and are subjected to domestic violence (Kufeldt, 2011). By incorporating the policy into the social work practice, I would report the children’s parents to a court of law for exposing Raisa and Valentina to risks related to domestic violence.

Anti-Oppressive Practice

In Sherry’s case, the client experienced various challenges, including financial problems, marginalization, and stigmatization, as well as physical and emotional abuse by the boyfriend and the father to her youngest child. The structural social work approach is more concerned with how powerful individuals take advantage of the less privileged. The approach mainly focuses on addressing problems based on social arrangements and reducing social inequality within a particular society. Considering Sherry’s case, the husband took advantage of the client’s femininity by constantly abusing her.

In incorporating the structural social work approach into the social practice, I would use the approach to help the client’s family to realize that support is needed from each other. In this case, I would phone the client’s boyfriend and share with him what problems Sherry experiences. The conversation would aim to convince him to sort out various family issues with Sherry and help her raise and feed the children as she has financial difficulties. I would also use the structural social work approach to build on the strengths of the client’s family and get rid of oppressive factors. Sherry is a forgiving person, and I would utilize this strength to convince her to forgive her husband. The aim is to ensure that Sherry and her husband engage in an effective dialogue process to end their problems amicably


De Boer, C., & Coady, N. (2007). Good helping relationships in child welfare: Learning from stories of success. Child & Family Social Work, 12(1), 32-42. Retrieved from

John Howard Society of Alberta. (2010). The relationship between domestic violence & child abuse.

Kufeldt, K. (2011). Indigenous issues in child welfare: Themes and implications. Child welfare: connecting research, policy, and practice. Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2, 353-368.

Schreiber, J. C., Fuller, T., & Paceley, M. S. (2013). Engagement in child protective services: Parent perceptions of worker skills. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(4), 707-715. Retrieved from

Tong, M. (2011). The client-centered integrative strengths-based approach: Ending longstanding conflict between social work values and practice. Canadian Social Science, 7(2), 15-22. Retrieved from

Unfried, B. (2010). SOCW 2061: An introduction to social work practice a day (and night) in the life of a social worker. Social Work Practice, Nelson Education Ltd., 3E (