42 The Life Model of Social Work Practice objective reality, as well as by using anticipatory empathy to identify with their likely perceptions and feelings—potential clients’ subjective reality. The initial phase focuses on how clients and workers define life stressors, since this largely governs what they will do about it. We note here—and elabo- rate upon this later in the book—that an important consideration in this phase is taking into account clients’ degree of choice in engaging in the social work relationship. Services may be sought, offered/proffered, and mandated each context shapes both the workers’ and the clients’ beginning transactions. Assessment in the life-modeled approach examines person:environment exchanges. In some instances, intervention may be directed more toward cli- ents or toward their environments, but workers never lose sight of the fact that both are important and interdependent. We cannot understand our clients without also understanding the social and physical environments within which they live. In the ongoing phase, professional methods and skills are directed toward the exchanges between clients and their environment. Supporting and strengthen- ing clients’ adaptive capacities and problem-solving abilities can be achieved using the enabling, guiding, and facilitating methods. Exploring and clarifying methods give focus and direction to the work. In engaging the environment, six social work methods are available to all practitioners: coordinating, medi- ating, advocating, organizing, innovating, and influencing organizational and legislative polices and regulations. In the ending phase, the worker and client consider organizational, temporal, modality, and relationship factors that affect the phases of termination, such as avoidance, negative feelings, sadness, and release. Teaching Methods and Skills We assume that instructors will cover in much more depth the content intro- duced in this chapter throughout the year. Therefore, we recommend that instructors focus on four main issues when discussing this chapter. Introducing the Life Model of Social Work Practice Instructors can begin their discussion of this chapter by focusing on the life model’s simultaneous focus on clients and their environments. The dia- gram presented in chapter 2 is now expanded in figure 3.1 to include the worker’s role. Instructors begin by identifying the three primary transactions that are represented here: worker and client client and environment and worker and
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