Foundations of social work theory


Historical context, History of theory where it come from and where it is now.
Critique of theory/ weakness.
Theory links to Social practice.
What is practice frame to use solve problem.
Case study
How as a worker use that theory actually use this theory of work.
Action how s/w get into this.
S/w  Practice
Case study
Social work journal (Update research) 15-20 references.





This essay is based on the essence of social care work involving children and their families. Social work in the domain of working with children has gained popularity over time. In the modern era there are various families who need interventions for their children due to various reasons. The social work consists of undertaking activities for the social, psychological and physiological wellbeing of the children (Woodrow, 2001). The need for social intervention in the development of child behavior is of prime importance. The requirement for social care in child development arises due to the lack of proper care that is given to many children by their parents. There can be various reasons behind a child needing social care intervention from caregivers. Often, it is undertaken when the parents of the children are not able to devote adequate time to their children and thereby they are not capable of offering the requisite developmental help and support. In some other cases, the poor children do not often receive the required quality of developmental care from their parents those lack knowledge and literacy. Hence, the need for social organizations in coming up with the intent of helping the children grow and develop rationally and share suggestive intervention strategies to their families is of paramount significance in the modern society (ROINN, 2003).

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Social Work Theory


Social Learning Theory
Social Learning Theory is a social work theory which says that the people have the tendency to learn from each other, via modeling, observation and imitation. This theory has been introduced by Albert Bandura.  Social learning theory is a bridge between the cognitive and behaviorist learning theories. This theory encompasses the motivation, memory and attention. It is a common tendency of human beings to learn from different observations. The individuals learn through observing others and try to imitate the same. It is also commonly found in the children that they tend to learn from the behaviors and conducts of adults of other children. They try to observe the doings of the elders or friends and try to perform in the same way (Berger, 2015). In this way they develop new behaviors of conducts. The social learning theory believes that continuous reciprocal interactions among the cognitive, environmental and behavioral influences make an individual or a child to learn. In this process of learning the modeling is very important. The behaviors of others are being observed with attention and then they get modeled and performed. There should be motivation for reproducing the behavior. The children tend to learn from observation and modeling of the learnt and observed behavior. They even learn to walk or speak by observing others as they want to imitate the doings of the other people. That is why it is always recommended that any kind of wring doings or violent actions or abusive words must be used or shown in front of children.  There are certain conditions which are necessary for effective modeling. They are the following:
Attention There are various factors which are important to increase or decrease the level of attention. Attention gets motivated by the factors of distinctiveness, prevalence, affective valence, functional value and complexity. The past experiences of the individuals also affect attention. 
Retention It is the condition when the children remember what they have observed with attention. The symbolic coding and rehearsal, mental image, motor rehearsal and cognitive organization help in remembering something and to retain them for a longer period. 
Reproduction This is the condition where the image or physical capabilities are reproduced. The self-observation of producing the same is the condition of reproduction.
Motivation The individuals must have the motivation to imitate the actions of the others. The children generally develop motivation to imitate the others. The traditional behaviorisms or the past incidents and the imagined incentives are the motivation for imitating some actions of the others. The vicarious motive that is generated by recalling and reinforcing model also influences motivation (Learning Theories, 2017). 
Bandura’s social learning theory is based on the reciprocal determinism. The theory is based on the belief that an individual’s behavior is the cause of other individual’s action. The theory has also focused that the environment is caused by the behaviors of individuals. Bandura has been studying the reasons behind the aggression of the adolescents. Then he realized that the personality of an individual is very important to interact between three important elements like environment, psychological process of an individual and behavior. The psychological process of an individual is the ability to entertain any language or image in mind (City of Casey Early Childhood Research Collective, 2017). Since the social learning theory is considered to be the linking bridge between the cognitive and behaviorist learning theories as it considers attention and memory along with motivation. This theory stresses that these three elements together make an individual to imitate any kind of behavior of action. The social learning of the children has also been praised by Lave’s Situated Learning and Social Development Theory (Tropeano, 2015). 
The main aspect of social learning theory of Bandura is that there can be learning which is not developed by reinforcement but by social elements. This theory is the based on the belief that the individuals can learn and develop new things and reproduces new behaviors from their observations of the actions performed by others (Nabavi, 2012). It is equally applicable for the children who most of the times try to develop new behaviors from their observations about the social environment or the behaviors of the others surrounding them. As per the theory it can be said that the children learn from observing others doing some actions or behaving in some ways (Harinie, Sudiro, Rahayu, & Fatchan, 2017).  The theory highlights the fundamental nature of the children who have the intention to learn from the others. They watch others’ doing something or behaving in some particular ways and they try to imitate the same through modeling (Teach Thought, 2017). The children first observe the actions or behaviors of the people around them and eventually they try to imitate them with some motive and finally they reproduce new behaviors of their own. Bandura while studying the aggressive behavior of the children conducted an experiment on Bobo doll which famously known as Bobo Doll Experiment. In this experiment he has asked an adult to behave aggressively to the Bobo Doll and then let the children play with that doll. He had observed that the children were behaving in the similar way with the Bobo Doll and they behaved aggressively like the adult whom they had attentively observed (Sincero, 2018).
Bandura had determined three models based on observational learning which include a Live Model, verbal Instruction Model and Symbolic Model. He had also mentioned that the mindset of the children is very crucial (psychestudy, 2018). He said that along with the external reinforcement factors the intrinsic or internal reinforcement factors are also responsible for the learning of the children. The children imagine the incentive or the rewards in their mind and then they decide to perform the similar behaviors or the actions that they observe in others around them. There are four important steps of modeling process which include attention, retention, reproduction and motivation (Cherry, 2017).


Social Work Practice 


In real life social work practice, the Social Learning Theory holds special significance. This theory is implemented by many social workers wanting to work with children and their families. One of the major strengths of this theory is that it is based on the behaviorist learning theories such as the Classical Conditioning Theory and the Operant Conditioning Theory. There are two additional dimensions that have been proposed by Albert Bandura (1977) in this theory (McLeod, 2016). They are the process of mediation that occurs between the stimuli and the responses. The other observation in this theory is that behavior can be learnt from the environment with the help of observational learning. These two additional aspects are very important for the Social Learning Theory and they have made it a logical approach to work with children and offer them effective interventions and also continuously sharing the progress of the children with their families. 
The social workers working with the children are benefitted from applying the theory into practice (Gentle-Genitt, Chen, Karikari, & Barnett, 2014). They need to understand that the children learn by observing and this is a key aspect when intervening children and discussing their growth and developmental progress with their parents (Teater, 2015). The social caregiver must ensure that the child is exposed to a healthy environment which will make him or her observe the good things around (Maluccio, Pine, & Tracy, 2002). If the caregiver finds that the child is being raised in an unhealthy environment where there are various issues those might cause stress to the mind of the child such as violent behavior, etc. (Hutchinson & Oltedal, 2014). It is the responsibility of the caregiver to immediately address the situation by discussing the scenario with the parents or other family members of the child in absence of its parents (Western, 2014). Another important aspect of the theory that needs due consideration in social work practice is that the children undergo a phase of mediation where a thought process goes on in their mind in between the stages of observing the behavior of a person and imitating or not imitating the same behavior in response (Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, 2012). Hence, it can be said that the Social Learning Theory is one of the most logical and effective intervention theories that can be implemented by the social workers engaged in the practice of working with children and their families (Goodall & Barnard, 2015).
In the field of social work the Social Learning Theory has been used widely. It is very difficult for the social workers to conduct the analysis of the human behavior in the society. There are many challenges and hurdles the social workers face in analyzing the complex nature and behavior of the human beings. They find it difficult to understand the ways each individual human being behaves. The social workers have applied different theories while studying the human behaviors. But they could not come to any concrete outcomes from their behaviors. They could not find any positive results of their research and studies on human behaviors. In case of analysis of the children’s behavior also the social workers could not succeed with the different theories they have applied to analyze the ways the children behave. Then they concentrated on the Social Learning Theory of Bandura and have found that they could easily analyze the nature of the human behaviors and that of the children. They observed that it is true that an individual or a child learn from the behaviors or the others around them. The social workers have studied the Bobo Doll Experiment of Bandura and have found that it is very much true that the children try to imitate the behaviors of the others. The children are sometimes observed that they are behaving aggressively and not in the right way they are supposed to behave (Cherry, 2017). Then the social workers have applied the Social Learning Theory and found that the children who have been observed to be aggressive must have some experience of aggressive behaviors of the others. They might have faced some violent actions of their parents or teachers. They might have observed some violent actions of other children or in television. The parents and the guardians of the children are suggested that they must be very careful about the external environment in which the children are being brought up. The external environment motivates and influences the behavior of the children and they after observing them try to imitate such actions with an imagination in their minds of achieving something (Psychestudy, 2018). 
The social workers who have understood the Social Learning Theory can apply it in different practices. In providing counseling to the disturbed children or any adult the understanding of this theory is very helpful. The school social workers have found this theory to be highly beneficial for understanding the nature of the behavior of the children or adolescents ( Akey, 2006). They have found that the reasons behind the poor educational performances of some children, psychological issues, poor attendance, bullying others and even substance abuse at young age affecting their socialization are their external environment which have affected their intrinsic motivation and internal environment (Wright, 2008).  The situations around the children have been identified to be the main reason behind their negative behaviors. They have been motivated by the aggressive behavior around them. The social workers can use the theory of social learning in identifying the reasons of discouraging positive behaviors of the children. The reasons can help the social workers in finding ways towards solutions (Tropeano, 2015).


Case Study


In order to understand the application of the Social Learning Theory in real life situation, one case study has been described depicting the experiences in offering care services to a child as a part of a social work internship project. A child named Joe; aged 8 years lived with his parents in a home in Sydney. The child was suffering from lack of cognitive development and often demonstrated signs of hypertension and anxiety. He was having problems in focusing on his studies and engaging in social activities like playing with his friends in the society (MSWGuide, 2018). After the social caregiver was assigned to serve the family and to help the child out by offering proper care and suggesting the right upbringing techniques to the parents, she undertook the duty and visited the residence on the day of her official joining in the duty. She was welcomed by the parents of the child. In the very beginning she noticed that the child was sitting in a room alone with nobody around and involved in deep thinking rather than playing around which is common for a child of his age. The social worker discussed the issue with the parents and asked about all the medical history of them and their child. The parents have also undergone some psychological counseling before and they showed her the reports. But, it was the social worker’s responsibility to assess the situation herself. She went into the room where the child was sitting on the floor and gazing at something outside the window. As she entered, the child was immediately conscious about her presence and showed symptoms of stress and anxiety to find someone unknown to him (Sama Hospital, 2015). 
The social worker tried to break the ice by greeting him and calling him by his name to which he responded though in a very reserved manner. The caregiver brought a chocolate for him and she presented it to him to which he was very happy and smiled. This helped her to gain the initial acceptance. The social worker spent many hours on the first day with the child and tried to observe his behavior and activities attentively in order to gather cues on the underlying cause of distress for the child. The caregiver kept a notebook where she put down the vital observations for documentation. The first incident that unnerved her was that out of nowhere the parents started to converse with one another in a heated argument being completely oblivious of their presence in the child’s room. They shouted at each other and quarreled in a way that should not have been done in presence of the child. The social worker could immediately see the child getting stressed and anxious. After a certain point of time he started to feel insecure and began to weep. The caregiver comforted him by taking him onto her lap but he resisted and showed extreme anger and discontent to her. This was one of the instances which proved that the child was affected by the Social Learning Theory and the irresponsible behavior displayed by his parents in front of him was a major cause of stress for the child ( de Lourdes Mata, Monteiro, & Francisc, 2012). 
After the incidents, the social caregiver immediately called upon the parents and sat with them over an hour of discussion. She told them clearly that a child at this age is extremely sensitive and his cognitive developments are primarily based on his observations of others’ behaviors. Hence, the child will not be able to lead a normal and healthy life like the others if he is exposed to such unhealthy and unsolicited situations at home. She recommended the parents to show empathy and care for the child and to show him that they love and care for them. The parents needed to spend more time with the child when they were at home. The parental love, care and concern is most loved by the children. Joe wad deprived of this very important factor in his life. With the application of the Social Learning Theory, the caregiver also urged the parents to allow the child to mix with other children in his community and let him play and interact with them so that he can develop the rational cognitive skills and open up to others (Workers, 2005). She also suggested them to ensure that the child is always exposed to a sound and rational environment which is free from any form of stress or anxiety. The social worker worked with the child for 1 month and was happy to see that he has improved a lot in terms of his cognitive development and demonstration of social skills. This was one of the most rewarding experiences the social worker had in her career as a social worker trainee. This assignment can be treated as a learning experience where the social worker was able to self-assess her skills as a social worker and she was contended to find that she could contribute effectively in her profession and this gave her more confidence and experience to face similar or different intervention scenarios in future (Australian Association of Social Workers, 2015).




In conclusion, it can be said that the social care initiatives for children who do not have the opportunity of receiving the proper care interventions from their parents are of gargantuan importance for ensuring that these children do not fall victims of cognitive development impairment. Many a time, the children those do not receive proper care and attention from their parents, do not develop rational cognitive characteristics and suffer from an array of psychological conditions that can destroy their future forever, if not intervened with urgency. Herein lays the essence of the social workers who offer valuable intervention services to the children needing care and suggest ways of improvement to the parents through offering counseling services to them. This essay has also described the importance of one of the social work theories known as The Social Learning Theory that has been applied in a real life case study for determining its effectiveness in achieving social intervention goals.




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