The principles of social casework are applied in establishing a close relationship between the social caseworker and the client. A relationship is a medium through which changes are brought into the behavior and personality of the client. The term relationship in social casework was used for the first time by Miss Virginia Robinson in her book, “A Changing Psychology in Social Casework Work” in 1939. The social casework relationship is the dynamic interaction of attitudes and emotions between the social caseworker and the client with the purpose of helping the client to achieve a better adjustment between himself and his/her environment. Thus, the purpose of establishing a relationship is to help the client with his/her psycho-social needs and problems. The relationship between caseworker and client may be strengthened by using certain principles. These principles are:

  1. Principle of individualization
  2. Principle of meaningful relationship
  3. Principle of Acceptance
  4. Principle of communication
  5. Principle of expression of feelings
  6. Principle of controlled emotional involvement
  7. Principle of non-judgmental attitude
  8. Principle of client’s self-determination
  9. Principle of worker’s self-awareness
  10. Principle of social functioning
  11. Principle of tuning behavior
  12. Principle of social learning
  13. Principle of confidentiality

1.      Principle of individualization

No two persons are alike in all qualities and traits. Their problems may be the same but the cause of the problem, the perception of the problem, and ego strength differ in every individual. Therefore, each individual client should be treated as a separate entity, and complete information is required to establish close relations in order to solve his/her problem from the root.

2.      Principle of meaningful relationship

The purpose of establishing relationships in social casework is to change the behavior of the client or to achieve adjustment in maladjusted situations. A meaningful relationship is developed in social casework by demonstrating the interests of the client. He/she is convinced of the caseworker’s warmth as an individual and conveys respect and care for him/her. In return, the caseworker helps the client to trust in his/her objectivity and feel secure as a worthwhile individual.

3.      Principle of Acceptance

The social caseworker accepts the client as he is and with all his/her limitations. He/she believes that acceptance is the crux of all help. It embraces two basic ideas- one negative and one positive. He/she does not condemn or feel hostile towards a client because his/her behavior differs from the approved one. Later on, he/she tries to modify his/her behavior step by step.

4.      Principle of communication

Communication is a two-way process.  There must be proper communication between the caseworker and the client, which helps, in proper understanding of each other. It is the road to the identification of the client’s problem. The function of a social caseworker is primarily to create an environment in which the client will feel comfortable expressing his/her feelings. It depends on proper communication.

5.      Principle of expression of feelings

Purposeful expression of feelings is the recognition of the client’s need to express his/ her feelings freely, especially his/her negative feelings. The caseworker listens purposefully, neither discouraging nor condemning the expression of those feelings. Sometimes he/ she even stimulates and encourages them when the expression is of a therapeutic nature.

6.      The principle of controlled emotional involvement

The social caseworker tries to understand the client’s feelings and emotions but he/she himself/herself is not involved emotionally in his/her problems.

7.      Principle of non-judgmental attitude

The non-judgmental attitude is a quality of the casework relationship. The caseworker does not blame the client for his/her problem nor he assigns any responsibility for his/ her miseries. He/she only evaluates the attitudes, standards, or actions of the client.

8.      Principle of client self-determination

The client’s self-determination is the practical recognition of the right and need of clients to freedom in making his/her own choices and decisions. However, this right is limited by the client’s capacity for positive and constructive decision-making.

9.      Principle of self-awareness

It means that caseworkers should know his/her own strengths and limitations in dealing with client’s problems. If he/she feels that the problems of the client are beyond his/her capacity, the client should be transferred to the appropriate authority.

10. Principle of social functioning

Social functioning means the functioning of the individual in his/her social roles and relationships, with emphasis on his/her relation to the environment. The caseworker tries to assess the roles of the client and his/her capacity to perform these roles.

11. Principle of tuning behavior

Man has body, mind, and intellect as three instruments of experiences through which life constantly pulsates. These three instruments have their own distinct characteristics in each person. Hence each person has a unique personality. There is a need to tune three instruments for right perception and thinking. The social caseworker does it.

12. Principle of social learning

Social learning is a prerequisite to the changes that are inevitably involved in problem-solving. The social learning process involves

  1. arousing and focusing attention and concern,
  2. organizing and evaluating the problem and planning future action,
  3. searching for and acquiring new information,
  4. providing opportunities to the client for new experiences.

13. Principle of confidentiality

Confidentiality is the preservation of secret information concerning the client, which is disclosed in the professional relationship only.

Additional Notes:

Social casework is a method of helping individuals and families address and resolve personal and social problems. It is a fundamental approach used in social work and is guided by several key principles. These principles serve as a foundation for the practice of social casework:

1.      Person-Centered Approach

Social casework is centered on the individual and their unique circumstances. It recognizes the worth and dignity of each person and emphasizes understanding their subjective experiences, feelings, and needs.

2.      Respect and Empathy

Practitioners must show respect and empathy for the clients they work with. This involves actively listening to clients, demonstrating understanding, and accepting them without judgment.

3.      Self-Determination

Social casework respects the client’s right to self-determination. Clients are encouraged to make their own decisions and choices, and the caseworker’s role is to assist them in achieving their goals rather than imposing solutions.

4.      Confidentiality

Maintaining the confidentiality of client information is vital to build trust. Clients need to feel that their personal information and discussions will remain private, within legal and ethical boundaries.

5.      Problem-Solving Process

Social casework follows a systematic problem-solving process. This involves assessing the client’s situation, identifying problems, setting goals, and developing plans for intervention and support.

6.      Holistic Approach

Caseworkers consider all aspects of the client’s life and environment, including family, social, economic, and psychological factors. This holistic view helps in understanding the complexity of the client’s situation.

7.      Strengths-Based Perspective

Caseworkers focus on identifying and building upon the client’s strengths and resources rather than solely addressing deficits and problems. This strengths-based approach promotes empowerment and resilience.

8.      Cultural Sensitivity

Caseworkers should be culturally competent and sensitive to the diverse backgrounds and needs of their clients. Cultural competence involves understanding and respecting the cultural values, beliefs, and norms of the clients.

9.      Professional Boundaries

Maintaining clear and appropriate professional boundaries is essential. Caseworkers must avoid dual relationships and conflicts of interest that could compromise the client’s well-being.

10. Continuous Learning and Supervision

Social casework practitioners must engage in continuous self-reflection and learning. Supervision and consultation with peers and experienced professionals are essential for ethical and effective practice.

11. Ethical Standards

Caseworkers should adhere to a strict code of ethics that guides their behavior and decisions. Ethical principles include principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice.

12. Documentation and Record Keeping

Detailed and accurate record-keeping is crucial for tracking progress, ensuring accountability, and safeguarding clients’ rights.

These principles guide social casework professionals in providing support and intervention to individuals and families in a respectful, client-centered, and ethical manner. It’s important to note that while these principles are foundational, the application of social casework can vary depending on the specific client, problem, and context.

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