Competencies Required for Social Work Practicum
Social workers undergoing practicum may primarily be direct practitioners to clients or indirect service providers. However, the direct practitioners have to do some administrative work, supervise at times, have a good knowledge of the resources and be a team player.
The administrators, supervisors and other indirect service providers, on the other hand may take up some case loads working as true generalists. According to Morales and Sheaffor (1995), the direct social workers need some basic competencies.
Use of self that is sensitive of one’s limitations and capabilities:
The social worker needs to be aware of personal strengths and weaknesses and be able to use all the skills, values, knowledge in helping the client.
Giving and receiving help:
While helping clients, the social worker needs to be aware that the primary reason for this act is to benefit the client and not for self satisfaction. While receiving help the client may be embarrassed, feel inadequate or find it demeaning. An understanding of the intricacies of the helping process is necessary.
Professional helping relationship:
A positive relationship between the social worker and client, based on mutual respect and trust is important for an effective helping process. A genuine, warm, empathetic social worker, who has positive regard, can engage the client in a successful helping relationship.
Social workers need to be aware of differences in culture, gender, age, religion, and disability. An understanding of variations in clients would enable the social worker to see the impact of such factors on the clients’ social, emotional and behavioural functioning.
Code of Ethics:
The social worker needs to be aware of the requirements for ethical practice. It is the public trust that grants professional sanction. To earn this trust the social worker must adhere to ethical practice of social work. The social worker provides the best possible service and tries not to control damage.
Understand the behaviours of individuals and families:
The professional social worker needs to have a repertoire of individual and family behaviour, family and social structure, family and individual life cycles, human physiology, anatomy, growth, development and anticipated times of concern. The impact of any event
or situation on individuals and families is another area important knowledge required of the social worker. Knowledge is garnered from biology, psychology, sociology and anthropology.
Gathering information on clients:
Conducting an interview helps focus on information about the client and the environment while identifying resources that could be used in the treatment phase. This would help to easily determine the methods to be used in helping. Some of the skills that are useful in conducting an interview are listening, questioning, and reflecting help in establishing an empathetic relationship with open communication.
Analysis of clients’ information:
After the information is gathered, the data is analyzed and the problem is identified. A proper determination of the problem situation would lead to selecting appropriate treatment methods. Once the strengths and limitations are assessed, resources that need to be garnered are sought. Information is gathered using a variety of tools and forms.
Empowering the client:
An important part of helping is to assist the clients understand and accept the problem
and situation. It is a big step to wards finding a solution. Assisting a client in clarifying a problem or resolving a conflict should not include deciding and functioning for the client. The client should be empowered to make decisions and actively solve the problem. This would give the client confidence to handle future problems that may occur.
Helping the client throughout:
Various skills are required when the social worker builds a professional relationship from intake through termination. After allowing the client to reveal his or her situation, the social worker collects data to describe the problem and identify resources and strengths that can be utilized in the helping process. Once the problem is analyzed and a plan of action or a contract is drawn up, then the client is helped to resolve his problem. At the end when the helping relationship is terminated, the process is evaluated to learn from the positive outcomes.