William J. Reid and Laura Epstein developed the task-centered approach in the 1970s at the University Of Chicago School Of Social Services Administration. The approach provides an alternative to the traditional concepts of psychodynamic practices. In the modern generation, the task-centered practice has become one of the most applied and influential practice models in the field of social work. It is a prototype of evidence-based practice by forming the center of the emergence and ongoing evolution. The method calls the service providers to apply empirical knowledge in practice and systematically evaluating the outcomes of problem-solving approaches. The central principles of task-centered practice occur in prominent social work developments as it evolves to a discrete model.
Task-centered practice is a brief, structured, and systematic approach that service providers use to help clients to resolve problematic situations (Reid, 2019). The prominent features of task-centered practice include placing the service provider and the client on the same grounds by addressing established targets of high priority to the client following agreed expected outcomes and models of attaining the objectives. Additionally, task-centered practice occurs through multiple steps that are carefully placed between sessions and reviews and evaluation of the entire intervention process to determine the success rate before proceeding to terminate service provider and client contracts (Sheafor & Horejsi, 2015). The practice is built on the basic tenets of eclecticism, which encompass various theories that define and assess the client’s presenting problem, provide guidance on the effort of problem-solving, and determine the suitability of the model in solving client’s demands.
Social workers in their daily practice encounter different situations that require them to draw on their skills and knowledge to help clients resolve various forms of crisis (Sheafor & Horejsi, 2015). Human beings as sociable bodies are vulnerable to a crisis at some point in their lives. The crisis theory posits that disasters are normal in the course of life. Conflicts on personal life may emerge from unpredictable situations like loss of employment, illness, loss of close relatives, or fixations in the development stages. Individuals may possess skills that enable them to cope and deal with conflict. However, some situations require professional input to overcome. If a previous dispute is not resolved successfully, it exposes individuals to re-occurrence and further fixing the individual. Social workers become an integral part of addressing individual and group challenges and helping them develop various coping strategies to overcome crises.
The task-centered approach encompasses a progressive and goal-oriented method for social work practice. This model assumes a practice-based approach built on research and applied across various settings and situations. It has been widely incorporated in helping service users to perform problem-solving duties within provided periods. The prominent characteristics of the task-centered practice emerge in the structure, problem objectivity, and established time limits (Reid, 2019). The task-centered approach has been widely incorporated in contemporary social service interventions. It has been closely associated, and sometimes confused with crisis intervention in the way they resemble each other by focusing on problem-solving by including brief intervention and the relationship to learning theory. However, the two are distinct approaches that have and are used to help individuals to overcome conflicts around their lives.
Task-Centered Approach Techniques
The task-centered practice, also referred to as evidence-based practice, has become an integral part of social work and intervention for adverse situations that inhibit the full functionality of humans. The approach occurs through systematic procedures that begin with establishing the problem, defining objectives of the intervention process, implementing strategies for goal attainment, and reviewing the objectives and progress attained. Once the problem has been identified, the social worker and the service user agree on the specific objectives of the course and establish a contract between them. Several short sessions provide time for the service provider and client to work on specified goals. At the end of the contract, the parties review the progress made and how well they have succeeded in overcoming the initial crisis.
The task-centered approach applies various techniques to extract information and design intervention strategies. They include the narrative approach, solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT), as well as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) (Reid, 2019). The narrative approach involves service providers giving an opportunity for service users to talk about their issues in the form of a story. This approach allows the client to view the problem as external forces rather than natural forces. Moreover, it enables them to assess the negative and positive impacts of a crisis on their lives besides helping them to develop compassion for themselves and their conflict. This approach allows the service provider and the client to create alternative stories that enable the client to view life without the problematic situation. It is significant as it allows the client to develop objectivity and distance from the conflict. It also enables the client to establish the source of friction that helps to influence future behavior.
The solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) approach places the clients at the center of solving their problems because they are the creators of the problematic situation. The conclusion to this assumption holds that the client possesses the power and solution to their crises and only require insights from professionals to establish them (Reid, 2019). This technique primarily enables clients to develop their solutions for presenting issues. This approach mainly applies to hedge language such as, “I wonder what would happen if…”, and coping questions that seek to reveal how the client has been fulfilling his/her daily endeavors with the presenting crisis in play. Social workers also use the miracle question like “supposed a miracle happened today, and you no longer have this problem, what is the first thing you would notice?”. This approach allows the social worker and the service user to set achievable goals that enable the client to overcome the conflict.
Finally, social workers apply cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is developed on the principle that thoughts and feelings shape our reality and the way we perceive and experience the world. Therefore, by changing the way individuals view the world around them, they can alter the way they understand and experience the world. For instance, Bambi, in the presented case, is worrying too much that things will go wrong if he does not get a job, including risking losing decent housing. Such preconceptions guide the individual to pay inappropriate attention to the possibility of things going wrong, which generates and reinforces the belief (Reid, 2019). The cognitive behavioral therapy challenges service users to challenge the negative sentiment and change the perspective of things around them by considering realities than perceptions to influence their thoughts. This approach involves meditation, mindfulness, out-of-session tasks, and relaxation that complement traditional talk therapy. It empowers clients to gain control over their world and possible intervention by focusing more on the present and becoming more aware of the realities around them.
Social work practice involves helping people to deal with presenting challenges that invite one to analyze the many factors that influence the well-being of service users, service providers, agencies, and the general society. Exposure to different situations affects different reactions among individuals. Some responses to various experiences are likely to create conflict for individuals that may hinder them from attaining fulfilment from life. Some of the problems require professional help to overcome.
Social workers apply task-centered practice among other models to enable service users to overcome their challenges. This model provides vital tools for resolving clients’ crisis through assessing their conditions, involving them in structured and time-bound problem-solving, as well as empowering them to confront presenting challenges.
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References Reid, W. (2019). A test of a task-centered approach, 20(1), 3-7. Sheafor, B., & Horejsi, C. (2015). Techniques and guidelines for social work practice (10th ed., pp. 200,281). Vancouver, B.C.: Langara College.