MSW's Students (2007-2009), Christ College, Bangalore, India

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Unit I - Introduction to Social Casework


Mary Richmond (1915):

“Social Case work may be defined as the art of doing different things for and with different people by cooperating wit them to achieve at one and the same time their own and society’s betterment.”Justify Full

Swift (1939):

“Social Case work is the art of assisting the individual in developing and making use of his personal capacity to deal with problems which he faces in his social environment.”

Hollis (1954):

“Social Case work is the method employed by social workers to help individuals find solution to problems of social adjustment which they are unable to handle in a satisfactory way by their own efforts.”

Perlman (1957):

“Social Case work is a process used by certain human welfare agencies to help individuals to cope more effectively with their problems in social functioning.”


  • It is a method of social work, seeks to help individuals in a systematic way based on knowledge of human behaviour and various tested approaches.
  • Consumers of these services are individuals and their families.
  • CWer’s knowledge, expertise and available material resources are used to inject strength in the person.
  • Person to person relationship, face to face, interpersonal transaction.
  • Deals with the adjustment of the individual towards more satisfying human relations, CWer helps the total individual, i.e., with every aspect of his life (psychological and environmental - social & physical factors).
  • CWer provides assistance to every individual in accordance to his problem and need.
  • Problems differ from individuals to individuals.
  • Process used by certain human welfare agencies to help individuals cope more effectively with their problems in social functioning.
  • SCW involves the following ingredients:
  1. Social Agencies: offering specialized services.
  2. Application: client applies for agency’s assistance.
  3. Continuing service: agency’s service remains continuous until solution.
  4. End of the process: when client no longer requires agency’s assistance; when client develops effectiveness in coping with his problem and resolves the problem.

* “A PERSON with a PROBLEM comes to a PLACE where social worker helps him through a well-defined PROCESS.” – Perlman.

  • PERSON: man, woman, child, and aged, anyone with social emotional living.
  • PROBLEM: arise from some need /obstacle /accumulation of frustrations or maladjustments which threaten the adequacy of the person’s living situation or the effectiveness of his efforts to deal with it.
  • PLACE: social service agency, social welfare department.
  • PROCESS: progressive transaction between caseworker and client.


  • Basic purpose is to enable the client to enjoy with some degree of permanence. More satisfying, effective and acceptable experiences in the social situation in which he finds himself.
  • Essential task is the facilitation of the social relationship.
  • (Witmer) Chief aim is to help them mobilize their capacities for the solution of their problems.
  • Help them so that they will be better able to meet future difficulties with a more effectively organized personal strength.
  • à (Moffett & Hollis)Bring about a better adjustment between individual clients and his situation or environment.
  • (Bowers) Better adjustment in the social relationships of the individual and the development of individual personality.
  • In general, the purpose of social case work is to help an individual client to solve his psycho-social problems in such a way so that he finds himself capable of dealing with these problems at present and also may solve in future if such problems arise.


à To understand and solve the internal problems of the individual.
à To strengthen his ego power.
à Remediation of problems in social functioning.
à Prevention of problems in social functioning.
à Development of resources to enhance social functioning.


Social casework values have roots in the democratic social system. They are:

  1. Every man has inherent worth and dignity.
  2. Every individual has the right to self-determination.
  3. Every individual is the primary concern of society, has potential for and the right to growth.
  4. Every individual, in turn, has to contribute to the society’s development by assuming his social responsibility.

5. The individual and society in which one lives are interdependent.

  1. Basic human needs have to be met by services which are not dependent upon in accord either to moral behaviour or to race, nationality, caste, etc.


o Man is a bio-psycho-social being who is in constant interaction with his environment.

o All problems in social functioning are psycho-social in nature and most are interpersonal as well.

o Within certain limits, man can be understood and helped.

o Man can grow and change limited only by his inherent capacities and potentials.

o Every person is unique as well as similar to others.


à Principle of Individualization.

à Principle of Purposeful expression of feelings.

à Principle of Controlled emotional involvement.

à Principle of Acceptance.

à Principle of Non-judgmental attitude.

à Principle of Client self-determination.

à Principle of Confidentiality.


  • Ancient times – individuals in every society have been helped by others to solve their problems.
  • Late 19th and early 20th century – it took professional shape
  • 1869 – Origin of Charity Organization Society in London.
  • The main aim of the society was to find out ways and means of helping the poor and needy and thus to organize used ‘volunteers’, called ‘friendly visitors’.
  • They visited the homes of the poor for the purpose of assessing their need, for rendering material assistance and for giving them guidance and advice.
  • These friendly visitors were subsequently called ‘paid agents’.
  • These paid helpers gradually developed systematic procedures in performing their tasks; they collected data, helped them after assessing and also maintained records (personal data, type of help rendered).
  • Case work gradually developed into a professional method.
  • 1877 – Organized efforts were taken by the American Charity Organization Society in U.S.A., similar to that in London.
  • The ‘paid agents’ received training in investigation, diagnosis and treatment for which the New York School of Philanthropy was established towards the end of the 19th century.
  • 1895 – End of 19th century in England, a concept called ‘Almoners’ (outside visitors) was introduced. Sir Charles Loch appointed Almoners to help hospitals to serve patients effectively. Almoners were similar to friendly visitors and paid agents.
  • 1898 – The first School of Social Work was established in New York.
  • 1911 – Case work had emerged in USA as an accepted formal technique. Since the early social workers handled cases of families in need, they were called caseworkers in USA.
  • 1914 – 1917 – The first training programme for casework started at this time, based more on the medical model – Summer training – started by many schools of social work – recognized by professionals.
  • 1917 – Mary Richmond wrote her first book called ‘ Social Diagnosis’ which set forth a methodology of helping clients through systematic ways of assessing their problems and handling them. The book also introduced the principle of individualization and client’s right to self-determination.
  • Impact of I World War – The First World War made a wide impact on social case work. Psychiatry in this period became more important. The contribution of Freud and his followers influenced the method employed by the caseworkers in dealing with the individuals. CGC movement and treatment, prevention of mental problems and delinquency strengthened the psychological orientation of this approach.
  • 1920s - Various definitions of case work under the influence of Freudian theory (internal factors – individual responsible for his problems).caseworkers realized that ore responsibilities should be given to individuals to make decisions of their life. Professionals also began to move into other fields like prisons, schools, etc.
  • 1930 – Economic depression – Case workers had to consider the economic factors which were causing distress to clients, leading to emotional distress and breakdown. Focus shifted from individual to modification and manipulation of the client’s environment to enable him to adapt to his situations satisfactorily.
  • After World War II, with the problems of morale, leadership, propaganda, separation, communication, etc., social workers found social sciences more useful. There was increase in personal problems on the part of clients due to financial crises.
  • 1950s – This was an era of private practice. Professional agencies started growing in this field. Case work started going into the community. Richmond (1922), Hamilton (1951) and Pearlman (1957) also emphasized on the problems of social functioning.
  • 1960s – Lot of importance was given to research and social action. Heredity vs. environment – casework method adopted new techniques and principles.
  • Social Case work in India: - American case work had its influence in India, as the first professional social workers who did case work in the Indian setting were trained in the American Schools of Social work.
  • 1911 – N.M. Joshi, one of the founders of the Trade Union Movement established an organization called the Social Service League. The League conducted training programmes foe volunteers, whose services were later utilized for relief work among people suffering form famines, epidemics, floods and other disasters, and also for welfare programmes among the poor and the destitute.
  • 1936 - The Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work was started in Bombay, the training for social work changed into a full time career oriented, educational programme. 1946 – Case work figured, both as a theoretical course and also as a method of practice in the academic programme.
  • Social work as a profession and as an academic programme has been enlarged and enriched by new perspective, ideas and theories.


  • Borrowed the methodology from the West.
  • Lack of indigenous literature.
  • Lack of recognition to the field of social work.
  • More focus on urban settings and silent on its relevance to the rural areas.
  • It is time consuming.
Notes only. Not for detailed reading.
Sukanya Sathish, Lecturer, Dept. of Social Work, Christ College.


Mohan said...

its a good attemp what you have made.definitely this will be useful for practioners for reference.

Victoria shagaya said...

This is a very good summary of social case work, it will really help to give an overview of S.C.W to people.

rahul singh said...

really its very informative notes,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

asisha.t.raj said...

good attempt, it gave a clear picture on social case work

Rashmirekha Maharana said...


Rashmirekha Maharana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gayatri telang said...

thank u its very use full

shweta said...

social case work is a primary method of social work...this summary is very informative nd how toadjustment nd development of d individual...

Abishai Abi said...

thank you very much dear friend its very useful to study

Murtaza Khan said...

Good effort that we can understand easily

Murtaza Khan said...

Good effort that we can understand easily

Himanshu Bhoi said...

its so helpfull in exam and real life in our work career thank u

haren said...

Is it related to new

Varun Jani said...

tommorow i am having my case work exams. Thanks for giving me brief history about of case work.

Moody Jatt said...

Any body know abouy CWer's work means

Rama Krishnan said...

thanks plz share evolution of social work profession and social work education

Unknown said...

Very nice and clear info

Samapika R said...

very nicely defined the basics of social case work.

Tumwebaze Joshua said...

I am truly privileged to be able to learn from you about Social Case Work. Thank you for making it interesting to me - TUMWEBAZE Joshua, Bishop Barham University College,
Kabale, Uganda, East Africa.

Unknown said...

What is individual dynamics?

Malai Rajan said...

very informative collections..... tnx a lot buddy :)

Ajay Battulwar said...

very nice and collective information. it will helpful to understand the subject.

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Unknown said...

It's caseworker's work

srinu gidla said...

Thank you 😊 very good information

John Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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