The case was referred to the school social worker by the F.1 class teacher and the teacher reported to the worker that she had noticed her student named Judy had avoided joining group activities and she was feared about bulling and she would cry suddenly in the class sometimes. After exploration, the following presenting problems are observed:
Constantly bullied by classmates
Avoid joining group activities
Fear about bullying and cry suddenly in the class
Aim of the assessment
The aim of the assessment is:
– To gather the basic information of the client about personal, family, school and social network
– To study the underlying factors contributing to the presenting problems and
– To find out the facts those trigger the problems so that an intervention plan could be set up to help the client.
Brief Social History
The worker had conducted four personal interviews and based on the interview sessions conducted with the client, the following information is gathered.
Genogram/family background and relationship
The parents of Judy were divorced since she was in primary school and thus she was brought up in a single parent family. Judy’s father lives in Mainland China and he does not contact with the family. The three family members: Madam Wong, Andy and Judy live together. The mother: Madam Wong, 44 years old, works as a cleaner and she is the only bread winner of the family. Andy Cheung: elder brother of Judy is 15 years old attending F.2 at a different school from Judy.
The client was observed to be upset with the situation she is being bullied. Moreover, she did not want to disclose much about her problems and she was not convinced that others could understand and help her. She also felt that she is not as capable as her brother in doing not very well with her school lessons.
The client lives together with her mother and elder brother at a public housing flat.
The mother, Madam Wong is the main bread winner of the family and the monthly income was unobserved.
History of violence/abuse
There is not serious case of violence according to the worker’s observation. However, the worker had studied that the client had been constantly bullied by her classmates at school. She was hit and her belongings were destroyed sometimes.
The client had some friends at the previous school she attended but she does not have any friends at the current school. The client told the worker that although she reported to the teacher about the issue, those who bullied her did not stop bullying and she does not think it is a good idea to report the teacher. Moreover, she does not want to tell her mother about her problems and feelings since she does not want to bother her. It seems that the mother alone would be her supportive network since she mentioned during the interview that her mother would listen to her if she discloses her feelings.
The worker assessed that she does not know how to cope with the problem except crying and according to the client, reporting to the teacher did not work.
Core issues referred by the school teacher
a) Avoid joining group activities in the class
b) Cry suddenly in the class sometimes
c) Constantly bullied, belongings are destroyed and hit by classmates
Worker’s perception of the core issues
The worker identified based on the personal interviews conducted that
a) The client lacks self confidence and self esteem
Since she stated that she was not doing well at school and she is not as clever as her brother.
b) The belief of the client that there is nobody who cares and understand her
The client mentioned that talking with other people (eg. Teacher and family) would help and they would not listen to her nor understand her.
According to cognitive theorists, most social and behavioral dysfunction is derived from misconceptions that people hold about themselves, other people and situations (Hepworth, 2006). In this case, the self-defeating belief of the client that she is not as capable as others and that there is no one who can help/understand her had led her to emotional and behavioral consequences that block her to be a confident and capable girl.
Analysis of the problem
The worker analyses the case by applying the Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), using the ABC model which was created by Albert Allis (Corey, 2005).
A (activating event) B (belief) C (emotional and behavioral consequences)
D (disputing intervention) E (effect) F (new feelings)
In this case, the worker conceptualized that the irrational beliefs of the client that she is bullied and maltreated because there is no one who understands her and that she is incapable triggered her to be depressed and to be away from the social environment at school.
The worker strongly believes that once the client can detect what her irrational beliefs are, the client could be helped with the disputing interventions to debate her dysfunctional beliefs by herself to solve the problem and to be a confident girl.
Strengths and opportunities
The worker had identified the following strengths and opportunities of the client during the interview sessions:
– Good friends (social life) at primary school. This implies that she does not lack socialization skills
– Helping her mother with household chores. It means she is a considerate daughter and she has a strong affection to her mother.
– The class teacher is concerned about the problem. She is also willing to help the client with the problem.
– Her mother would listen to her if she discloses her problems and feelings to her.
The goal of the intervention plan is to help the client:
a) To identify the irrational belief
b) To debate then discriminate these irrational beliefs by herself
c) To help the client to build self confidence and self esteem
d) To help the client socialize and participate in school activities
– Ask the client to do assignment so that she can identify and cope with her irrational beliefs
– Assignment such as “Feeling List” would be given so as to make the client aware of her own
emotional condition and the progress (Sheafor & Horejsi, 2006).
– Encourage the client to build up self confidence and self esteem by assigning her to identify the
specific conditions and circumstances under which she feels positive and worth about herself
(Sheafor & Horejsi, 2006).
– Promote the client’s resilience by helping her to discover her own strengths to overcome all the
hardships (Egan, 2007).
– Discuss with the teacher how to provide psychosocial support to the client
Long term plan
– To set up a good social support for the client: to engage the school environment, family
members in the helping process (Egan, 2007).
– Discuss with the class teacher for organizing classroom activities where the client would be
able to actively participate and appreciate her own strengths.
Recommendations for follow up
– To have another case session to set up an agreed intervention plan with the client and to
encourage the client do the assignments.
– Assessment on the school environment regarding the bulling issues might help
– Discussion with the family and the school to engage in the helping process
The worker had applied different types of communication and helping skills during the interview session with the client.
The skills used and the effectiveness:
– Warm greeting before starting the interview
– Engaging with the client/rapport building
It is a way to let the client feel comfortable with the interview session. The client was more willing to talk freely after engaging with some general conversation at the beginning of the session.
– Asking the understanding of the client about being referred by the class teacher
– Confirmation of whether the client is willing to talk to the worker
– Asking expectation of the client and inform about the interview session
– Explaining the main purpose of the interview that she would be helped through the process
It helped the client see clearly what the worker will be doing with her so that she can feel free to talk to the about her problems.
– Express understanding towards the clients through basic attending skills such as faced the client squarely, adopted the open posture, leaned towards the client, maintained good eye contact and relaxed while interacting with the client.
In these ways of basic attending skills, I expressed empathetic attending, understanding and willingness to help. It helped the client to be willing in expressing her feelings and problems.
– Using verbal and non-verbal attending skills such as eye contact with the client, facial expression, and minimal encouragers.
It encouraged the client to be more willing to talk. It also showed that I was listening to the client carefully. I used follow up questions like open-ended questions to confirm what the client had said so that there would not be any misunderstandings.
– Clarifying and verifying what the client had told the worker
I clarified/verified what the client had told me by using phrases like “it appears to me that…” and questions like “oh you want to… is that what are saying?” It helped to discriminate the misunderstanding and confusion that can occur if I did not clarify or verify what the client had told and if I interpret in my own perception.
– Paraphrasing and Summarizing
It was effective in a sense that I could express my understanding about the client and that I had been listening carefully and finding a way to help the client.
– Using of open questions and miracle question
I used open questions to explore what the client had said for better understanding. Moreover, I also asked the client’s perception on problem solving by asking “What do you think you can do to stop the bully?” Although it did not help the client solve the problem completely, it helped the client think about what she could do to cope with the problem.
I also used the questions to explore the client’s wants and goals by asking “How do you want your classmates to treat you?” “What kind of situation do you want?” and “What if …?” By asking these questions, the client voiced out what she wants and what she wants to be like which can result in goal setting.
Strengths and weaknesses in the intervention
During the intervention process, I evaluate the strengths of mine that I had a pretty good engagement with the client applying basic communication and helping skills. The use of appropriate questioning and clarifying worked to identify the problem and in detecting what the client wants and needs.
As weaknesses, I needed to improve more on rapport building to gain the trust of the client. More practice on follow up questions and leading questions so as to make the client more articulating to disclose her problems.
In reflecting my learning, this practice session helped me a lot to build up my skills needed in social work practice. Moreover, I have learned a lot about the effectiveness of the skills and what more could have been done to boost up my skills to be a good professional. The class discussion and feedback from the classmates made me see myself clearly about the strengths and rooms for improvement.