Socw 6060 | SOCW 6060 – Social Work Theory and Practice | Walden University


  • A brief reaction to Dr. Barbara Simon’s article about theories being necessary in social work as you think about her position in relation to your fieldwork experience
  • A brief reaction to Dr. Bruce Thyer’s article about theories not being necessary in social work as you think about his position in relation to your fieldwork experience
  • Do you tend to agree with Dr. Simon or Dr. Thyer? Why?
By Day 5

Respond to two colleagues:

  • Agree or disagree with your colleague’s reaction about Dr. Simon or Dr. Thyer’s position, and explain your position.
Submission and Grading Information
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:
Week 1 Discussion 1 Rubric

Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 5

To participate in this Discussion:
Week 1 Discussion 1

Discussion 2: Sources of Knowledge

Social workers make decisions in practice settings based on different sources of knowledge, including their intuition, personal experiences, tradition, authority, and theories and research evidence. These sources of knowledge can be used together to contribute to decisions. Which source(s) of knowledge do you rely on? What are the strengths and limitations of each source of knowledge, and how will they affect your social work practice? For example, think about the sources of knowledge you used when you made decisions in your field experience. In this Discussion, you consider the sources of knowledge that inform your practice decisions.

To prepare: Complete the “Situations 1 and 2: Making Decisions About Interventions” handout. (Note: You do not need to upload the handout to the Discussion forum. The handout is intended to assist you in writing your Discussion post.)


Situations 1 and 2: Making Decisions About Interventions*

Situation 1

Think back to a client (individual, family, group, agency, or community) with whom you have worked. Place a check mark next to each criterion you used to make your practice decision. If you have not yet worked with a client, think of the criteria on which you would probably rely. 

____1. Your intuition (gut feeling) about what will be effective

____2. What you have heard from other professionals in informal exchanges

____3. Your experience with a few cases

____4. Your demonstrated track record of success based on data you have gathered systematically and regularly

____5. What fits your personal style

____6. What was usually offered at your agency

____7. Self-reports of other clients about what was helpful

____8. Results of controlled experimental studies (data that show a method is helpful)

____9. What you are most familiar with

____10. What you know by critically reading professional literature 

Situation 2

Imagine you have a potentially serious medical problem and you seek help from a physician to examine treatment options. Place a check mark next to each criterion you would like your physician to rely on when he or she makes recommendations about your treatment.

____1. The physician’s intuition (gut feeling) that a method will work

____2. What he or she has heard from other physicians in informal exchanges

____3. The physician’s experience with a few cases

____4. The physician’s demonstrated track record of success based on data he or she has gathered systematically and regularly

____5. What fits his or her personal style

____6. What is usually offered at the clinic

____7. Self-reports of patients about what was helpful

____8. Results of controlled experimental studies (data that show a method is helpful)

____9. What the physician is most familiar with

____10. What the physician has learned by critically reading professional literature 

*From Gambrill, E., & Gibbs, L. (2017). Making decisions about intervention. In Critical thinking for helping professionals: A skills-based workbook (4th ed., pp. 69–70). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 

By Day 4
  • Explain how and why your choices differed in Situations 1 and 2.
  • Evaluate when using intuition or personal experiences is advantageous in making clinical decisions. Provide an illustration of this from your fieldwork experience.
  • Analyze when using theories and research evidence is advantageous in making clinical decisions. Provide an illustration of this from your fieldwork experience.
By Day 6

Respond to two colleagues:

  • Evaluate an identified limitation your colleague may encounter when relying on intuition or personal experience in making decisions about an intervention plan.

 Ebony Mcennis RE: Discussion 2 – Week 1COLLAPSE

Interventions are usually relied upon and used due to their proven track record of success. When completing this exercise I found myself questioning whether intuition should be allowed in a clinical setting. I keep asking myself what part of my intuition would be used when making assisting a client in making a decision. How much of my intuition is based on past triggers, or my experiences, and would my intuition lead to transference issues. When completing situation 1 I chose the following decisions. 

1. Gut feeling

2. My experience with a few cases

3. My demonstrated track record of success BASED on data. 

4. Results in a controlled experiment. 

4. What I know by critically reading professional literature. 

I chose my gut feeling because I feel that I can separate my preconceived ideas when it comes to a client. I also chose intuition because it can relate to my past experiences with clients. Clients all have themes and patterns to which they communicate and if I am able to recognize it, I am able to make a better informed decision. This leads me into my experience with a few cases. There is no doubt depending on the agency one may work for that clients will have similar problems. Although clients are different experience with past cases provides a baseline, and can be modified as treatment progresses. The next two I chose was my track record and controlled experiments. I cant stress enough how important research is to the clinical profession. It aims as the blue print for which we treat patients. I feel that past experience and data can make a difference in each case, and can be relied upon to help other individuals. Last but not least professional literature. Professional literature keeps me up to date with new tools and terms that have been discovered. I believe that professional literature opens up possibility so I am not working limited. Limits may hurt my ability to help the customer so it is always helpful to continually educate, so that I am providing the best service. 

For situation 2 I chose the following decisions: 

1. The physicians intuition 

– Again for me this is past experience, or understanding of what illness I may have. This can also be a deeper understanding from research, however I have learned that physicians see many issues on a daily basis, and if I am presenting issues that resemble something they have seen before I am willing to roll with their intuition of treatment. Of course they will make changes due to my personal need, however they are in the realm of whats needed to be successful. 

2. The physicians experience with a few cases. 

– experience also provides me more trust, because I know the physician has seen it before, and knows whats needed to be successful. 

In summary, intuition is advantageous in clinical decisions when their is some familiarity with the issue. I believe this provides clinicians a more accurate diagnosis and also provides a more integrated approach to treatment. When I was a case manager for a homeless shelter I completed intake with many different clients. I had a young lady who was extremely agitated, she did not want anyone to touch her and would be extremely uncomfortable around men. I had seen this before in a rape survivor and my gut told me she was either sexually assaulted or violated. I pulled her into a private room along with a female colleague and starting speaking. As we gathered more information the client admitted she had been sexually assaulted, and could not be around the opposite sex. Although I knew in my gut what was happening I allowed the client to provide the information on her terms. But in this case my intuition was advantageous, because I had seen the signs before and I was able to make an accurate decision. 

Theories and research is also advantageous in making clinical decisions. With theories we are able to get a starting point and also understanding of characteristics found in certain patients. Research allows for answers because as clinicians we don’t know it all. There are some cases that may challenge us or put us in a position that calls for educating ourselves further. We have to be careful because personal experience can not be the only source of information. There are times where we are faced with objectives beyond our scope and need to review the data to see how those questions were answered, and which tools were needed to end successfully.  The only personal example I have for this situation is I had the experience of completing a group session at a state prison. The instructor wanted to use CBT techniques and I had only learned a few basics. It took me half of the day to review CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) and also look at times where it had been used for offenders whom have been convicted of heinous crimes. This was a point of uncertainty for me, and forced me to educate and gather data so that the group was effective for the patients. 

As I have completed this assignment I think its so special the profession we are in. The ability to learn consistently and help others is quite fascinating.

Colleague 2

 Angelica Wiggins RE: Discussion 2 – Week 1COLLAPSE

While reading through the different criterion for situations 1 and 2 I realized that many of my answers were the same, yet there were slight differences between them. In situation 1, I checked all of the criterion except what I heard from other professionals in informal exchange. I chose not to check these two because each client and each scenario is different, yet in my previous role as an Option Counselor for the Department of Aging in my community, I never found myself utilizing information on my clients given to me in informal ways for fears of violating HIPPA. In situation 2 however, I marked everything.

 “Intuition, the ‘first awareness,’ is present before thought engages and is always at our service (Luoma,1998).” Using intuition is very important in practice because every client is different and sometimes you have to utilize what works best for that particular client. In previous experience, I had an intuition that a client could not read, but since we were still building rapport, I chose to read him the instructions before handing him his paperwork. After one week together my client stated that he indeed could not read so upon discharge I gave him information for free reading and writing classes for adults in the area.

Utilizing theories and research are important in social work because they frame how social workers work with clients. “Theory constitutes a conceptual frame that anchors and structures relationships among kinds of knowledge crucial for social work (Simon, 1994).” In my previous role, we utilized theory every day by providing clients with different theoretical based coping skills when finding out about difficult diagnosis or outcomes that they may have received.

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