The Life Model of Social Work Practice 47 and have to work with a new social worker. (This question also introduces students to anticipatory empathy, a skill mentioned in this chapter and elab- orated upon in chapter 6.) 2. You may need to supplement this discussion by providing case examples of your own. We have presented our cases or those of previous students to get our students thinking about the importance of creating a climate in which clients feel comfortable. 3. We suggest to students that clients will (for better or worse) make a quick, often unconscious, judgment within the first couple of minutes of meeting their worker about whether they are someone they might be able to trust. Ask students to consider the “snap judgments” that they make about others and then apply this to social work: what would they look for and respond to in their first meeting with a social worker? Phases of Work in Life-Modeled Practice The phases of work will be elaborated upon in depth in subsequent chapters. At this point, though, we recommend that instructors clarify that while we present the phases of work as separate and distinct in the text to facilitate students’ learning, the reality is that social work practice usually does not progress as neatly and cleanly as that discussion suggests. We also want students to understand that the phases of work may all have to take place in one session. Throughout the book, we have intentionally included examples where a student’s work with a client was limited to one session. 1. It is likely that some students will be placed in settings where the work with clients is very brief. Ask these students to describe the nature of their agency, clients that it serves, and their professional role. You then can use these exam- ples to encourage all the students to think about how they can form a working relationship as they simultaneously complete their work with clients. You also may need to clarify for all how brief encounters with clients can be helpful, and how they do, in fact, reflect social work practice: One of our students was placed in a day shelter for homeless individu- als. While some clients attended regularly, many more came only when they needed a shower, wanted a hot meal, or experienced some sort of crisis. She wondered if what she was doing was “really social work.” Her question reflected a number of important issues, including the frustration that she felt that she could do so little for clients who needed so much. We started the dis- cussion by acknowledging the legitimacy of the student’s questions, but then asked the entire class to think about the ways in which her work was helpful and the skills that she needed to possess in order to do her job.
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