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Cognitive Theory Clinical Social Work Practice Question Answer

Pages:7 (2210 words)



Topic:Social Work Practice

Document Type:Question Answer


1. How does this theory fit with a clinical social work perspective?

Continuous concern with the individual in-situation is often regarded as social work’s most unique or distinguishing feature. In spite of the debate on where emphasis should be placed, both internal psychodynamics and environmental determinism are regarded as important for proper social work practice. Recent contributions made to the theoretical groundwork by cognitive-behavioral studies show that both needs can be dealt with simultaneously. Social work practice is anchored on the important, perhaps pivotal, notion that overall human behavior is usually the sum of both environmental and personal realities. Though yet to be developed thoroughly into a formal and widely accepted paradigm, the cognitive learning perspective draws from several perspectives including clinical experience, behaviorism, and cognitive psychology (Berlin, 1987).

According to the Code of Ethics published by the National Association of Social Workers (1996), there is a need to respect and appreciate the significance of human connection and, therefore, a need for social workers to engage with clients on that level and as partners. From the time cognitive theory began being adopted, therapeutic relationship was redefined into more of a collaborative effort between a social worker and client - a collaborative effort with emphasis on the relationship and on the active role the client needs to play in the helping process; a collaboration that is anchored on two rights of the client: the right to make their own choices with regards to the treatment process and the right of self-determination. In other words, a collaboration that is focused on empowering the client and using their strengths in the helping process. Both client empowerment and use of the client’s strength are now crucial in social work practice. With regards to cognitive theory, cooperation or collaboration between a social worker and client helps to reinforce human connection/relationships, and is actually reinforced in every individual phase of the helping process (Gonzalez-Prendes, 2012).

2. Provide a theory driven problem statement and assessment of the client system in the environment.

Problem statement: If the client (Mr. Jackson) lacks personal strength (as shown by his physical weakness, chronic depression, and cognitive impairment) as well as environmental resources (as exhibited by his few friends, lack of children, frail wife, and minimal pension), he risks disorganization, deterioration, and disorientation. In this case, a directive and active social worker should immediately dedicate time to being an extra or critical resource for the client when needed. In contrast, if the client has strong environmental resources and personal strengths (D), the social worker should probably only limit his/her activities to emotional support, offering suggestions, and direct referrals. If the client’s environmental resources are strong but their personal resources are limited (B), the activities of the social worker ought to be concentrated on searching for network and organizational resources to provide to the client, and helping them compensate for their limited personal strengths. Lastly, if the client has limited environmental resources but sufficient personal strengths (C), the activities of the social worker should be focused on assisting him/her in finding alternative external resources. By helping clients to compensate for what they lack in, social workers can provide much-needed improvement in the client's situation (Gitterman & Heller, 2011).

3. Consider and thoroughly discuss the key theoretical concepts of the theory.


This is a concept first mentioned by Bandura and it simply describes an individual’s belief in their own capacity to implement a certain behavior, together with the self-confidence that an individual possesses to carry out a particular task and achieve the desired results. Central to Bandura’s theory is the Model of Self-Efficacy, which is the process whereby an individual partakes in a certain behavior with the desired subsequent outcome. The model starts with the awareness of a problem’s existence, which is then followed by the belief that a desirable outcome can be achieved through the individual’s actions, thereby creating the impetus to persist (Adefolalu, 2018).

Mastery of performance

This describes the skills and knowledge acquired via experience and persistence (Bandura, 1998). This particular strategy can be applied in ART (anti-retroviral therapy) adherence, because it involves teaching patients the various ways of escaping negative self-talk and self-defeating thoughts, as well as of substituting them with task-oriented ones in order to avoid lack of hope linked to adherence to ART.

Vicarious experience

This happens when an individual sees other individuals successfully completing a certain task. This acts as a means of modelling self-efficiency for the observer (Bandura, 1988). Modelling or vicarious experience could be utilized in improving ART adherence by counsellors, in the form of vicarious emphasis wherein a desirable behavior like adherence is emphasized by seeing another individual get rewarded for it (Adefolalu, 2018).

Verbal persuasion

Verbal persuasion normally assumes the form of discouragement or encouragement from another individual, and is actually the most frequently used self-efficiency technique by healthcare experts. It is utilized to try to persuade an individual that they could do well at a certain task. Social or verbal persuasion serves to reinforce the feelings of self-efficiency when experiencing small failures linked to ART adherence. Health personnel utilize verbal encouragement and persuasion to improve adherence to ART through showing confidence in their abilities (Adefolalu, 2018).

Physiological symptoms

Physiological symptoms serve as information sources pertaining to a person’s self-assessment of competence. An individual’s physical reaction to challenging situations could affect their level of preparedness to effectively deal with the situation (Bandura, 1998). In stressful situations, an individual’s thoughts on the effect of their own suffering could alter their self-efficiency. Getting overwhelmed when experiencing various difficulties linked to chronic health conditions can be construed by an individual with low self-efficiency to be an indication of their incapacity to stick to treatment, hence lowering self-efficiency even further. An individual with high self-efficiency will, on the other hand, construe such symptoms as normal and not related to their capacity to stick to treatment. According to research, it is an…

Sample Source(s) Used


Adefolalu, A. O. (2018). Cognitive-behavioural theories and adherence: Application and relevance in antiretroviral therapy. South Afr J HIV Med., 762.

Bandura A. Organizational applications of social cognitive theory. Aust J Manage. 1988;13(2):275–302. [Google Scholar]

Berlin, S. B. (1987). Cognitive behavioral interventions for social work practice. National Association of Social Workers, Inc.

Gitterman, A., & Heller, N. (2011). Integrating Social Work Perspectives and Models with Concepts, Methods and Skills with Other Professions’ Specialized Approaches. Clinical Social Work Journal, 204-211.

Gonzalez-Prendes, A. (2012). Cognitive-behavioral practice and social work values: A critical analysis. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics.

National Association of Social Workers. (1996). Code of Ethics. Retrieved from

Nevill, D. (2014). Positive Interventions: Developing a Theoretical Model to Guide Their Development and Use. Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) Capstone Projects.

Parks, A. C., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2013). Positive interventions: Past, present, and future. In T. Kashdan & J. Ciarrochi (Eds.), Mindfulness, acceptance, and positive psychology: The seven foundations of well-being (pp.140-165). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications

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