1. Test #2 was completed and the first part was
reviewed/corrected in class.
Brief lecture on The Strategies of Intervention: Chapter 3.
How does one take action in addressing human service needs? Before
addressing the specifics, it is important to understand the concept of
multicausality. Human service work, unlike the 'hard' sciences, is
more of an art, as the many causes of any one problem are so interwoven
and there is never one simple answer as to the question "WHY?"
The steps taken to address the problem, however, must be rooted in a good
understanding of the causes of the problem if they are to be effective.
The film "Ladybird, Ladybird" gave us many examples of
The text lists six principles of multicausality:
- Even with careful research, it is never possible to be absolutely
sure we fully understand the causes of any one problem.
(Therefore, we have to base our approaches to solving the problem on
our 'best guess' as to the cause.)
- There is rarely one simple cause to a problem. (Maggie stated
that she 'just' needed the social workers to get her a decent place to
live, but we know that this would not have solved her problems of
self-esteem, her pattern of finding abusive men, her problems managing
her anger, etc. She probably would have found another abusive man to
move in with her in her 'decent' place.. And, on the social rather
than individual side of the picture, if the women's shelter had been
safe, or the society had provided a less intrusive and controlling way
of monitoring her parenting skills so she could regain custody of her
eldest son, she would perhaps have not had to go on to lose so many
children before she had the family she so desperately desired.)
- And, as the above illustration points out, the interpersonal and
social forces behind a problem are intertwined. Solving only one
side of the equation won't work for long The person's internal
problems and the forces in the environment that are problematic both
have to be addressed.
- Some of the causes of social problems are deeply rooted, and others,
though they appear to be secondary, are symptoms of deeper problems.
(Behind Maggie's problems with men is the larger society's attitudes
toward women, and behind the shabby shelter is a society that doesn't
value poor women and their children enough to commit resources to
guaranteeing that women have a safe and healthy environment to go to
when they are being abused.)
- Although many people may share the same problem, the causes are as
unique as the individuals who have them. No two people have the same
history, environment, strengths and vulnerabilities. (Another woman
who might have, as a small child, had at least one adult she could
turn to for love and protection as a child might have been able to
deal very differently with Maggie's situation. And if her sister had
been rich, maybe she could have helped Maggie find an apartment for
herself and her children...)
- The last point is related to #5: no two people react the same way to
identical situations. ( Maggie's temperament may have begun as a
'fighting spirit' from before birth, that turned to lashing out under
the influence of her experiences, while another person might react by
becoming suicidally depressed rather than lashing out at
When selecting strategies for intervention, it is important to consider
both individual and social causes for the problem. Page 97 lists fourteen
of the more common categories of intervention used by human service
workers. some are direct services that address either internal
problems or the specific environment of the individual, some are directed
at changing 'the system', the organizations that are supposed to
deliver services or even the larger society that provides (or does not
provide) the needed services, and some strategies that both try to
provide direct services as well as change the systems that deliver
In the working groups, you were asked to generate a 'pie chart',
similar to that on Page 97, of the main causes of the problem your group
has chosen to address.
For homework, you are to select an intervention (and explain your
selection, based on information in the assigned chapter) for each
of the causes your group has listed.