110 Helping Individuals, Families, and Groups with Environmental Stressors the change process. This set of skills helps clients do things differently, build- ing upon the skills presented in the previous chapter: role-playing, specifying actions and tasks, and preparing and planning for task completion. Successful use of these skills requires that the worker remain in the world of is, appreciating—though not necessarily supporting or agreeing with—the positions of others who have not responded to (or may have even rejected) cli- ents’ needs. In their desire to help their clients, workers—particularly new ones like students—may lose sight of the importance of this skill, creating enemies, not allies, in the very people and systems that their clients need. Therefore, the worker must convey awareness of the perspectives of others by engaging in anticipatory empathy, and also remain persistent but tactful in advancing clients’ interests. Additional skills in this set include demonstrating professional compe- tence as we promote our clients’ interests and developing and using informal contacts. Because workers often must challenge organizations and their rep- resentatives to be more responsive to their clients, having a network of orga- nizational contacts is essential. Further, when social workers are familiar with an organization’s policies and procedures, these also can be used to further clients’ interests. Persuasive and assertive skills become necessary when needed resources in clients’ environments remain unresponsive to their needs. This skill set ranges from asserting clients’ needs or entitlement, arguing on behalf of clients who are unable to do so for themselves, and creating discomfort in organizations. When organizational representatives are the focus of workers’ efforts, they will need to understand and use the administrative hierarchy to achieve their goals and meet clients’ needs. These skills require social workers to be assertive without being aggressive. Yet there are times when they will need to be even more forceful in promot- ing and advocating for their clients’ needs. Adversarial skills usually are a last resort, but they are necessary when client entitlements are denied or their rights abridged. Skills include implying further action (which the worker must be willing to take) and mobilizing a coordinated response from clients. These activities can place workers at risk of loss of employment and reputation and also can lead to burnout and frustration. Therefore it is important for worker to carefully choose their battles. Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities • Select appropriate intervention strategies based on the assessment, research knowledge, and values and preferences of clients and constituencies.
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