Worksheet: Dissecting a Theory and Its Application to a Case Study

Most theories can be dissected and analyzed. All theories will tell you something about their focus or unit of analysis. A theory will identify its major or key concepts. It will also point to the definition of the problem and its cause. This then guides how the social worker assesses and intervenes, because the theory will also articulate the role of the social worker and how change occurs.

Basic Assumptions of the Theory

Directions: For each section, respond in 2 to 3 sentences to the following prompts. Where relevant, provide citations to support your claims.

Name of theory

Ecological System Theory

Name of theorist

Urie Bronfenbrenner

What are the major assumptions of the theory?

Social Interaction, Family relationships, Environmental factors

What are the theory’s key concepts?

Family is the primary medium of interaction.

Society shapes personal conceptions and thoughts.

Community affects the personal behavior.

What is the theory’s focus or unit of analysis?

Observation of driving forces behind personality impairment.

What is the theory’s overall explanation for the cause of problems?

A person delivers what he receives from his environment.

Personal interactions contribute to persona’s actions.

Application to a Case Study <Jake Levey>

Directions: For each section, respond to the following prompts. Where relevant, provide citations to support your claims.

In 1 to 2 sentences, how does the theory define the client’s presenting problem?

Growing up, Jake was emotionally detached from his family. His military experience has caused psychological disorder. He feels forced into social interactions.

In 1 to 2 sentences, how does the theory explain the cause of the client’s presenting problem?

Jake comes from a strict military background where he is lead to believe that men do not show weakness. His war experience has caused PSTD which makes him stressed in social interactions.

In 1 to 2 sentences, how does the theory explain the role of the social worker for this client?

Jake is a closed person. He does not like to meet people unless it is work related. Also he was a military servant where he had to stay alert all the time. Social work will cause irritation and stress for him.

In 1 to 2 sentences, what does the theory say about how this client will improve or how change will occur?

Jake will improve due to his sense of responsibility towards his family. His affections for his family has encouraged him to seek medical assistance.

Using the theory, list 2 to 3 assessment questions to ask this client to explore the client’s goals and how they will get there.

What do you think about your current condition?

To what extent you can go to solve this problem?

What type of father you see yourself in future?

According to the theory, identify 2 to 3 specific practice intervention strategies for the client relative to the presenting problem. For each, explain in 1 sentence how it will help meet the client’s goals.

Introduce him to therapy methods, it will help to alter his views and beliefs.

Review of medical history and change the medicine according to current condition, it will help to overcome his PSTD and he will eventually stop drinking.

Based on the theory, list 2 to 3 outcomes when evaluating whether an intervention is effective.

Intervention can be effective as he is willing to improve. Involvement of family will speed up the counselling process. It will also make him comfortable around his family and he will share his concerns more openly.

What is one strength and one limitation in using this theory for this client?

It covers some important factors responsible for human behavior.

It does not produce a solid outcome in every case.

Questions to Consider When Evaluating the Theory

You are not required to answer these questions for this assignment. However, these questions could help stimulate thinking whenever you are asked to evaluate a theory.

To what extent does the theory apply widely to diverse situations? Or does it apply narrowly to particular situations?
Is the theory ethical? Is it consistent with the NASW Code of Ethics?
Is the theory congruent with the professional value base of the social work field?
How cost effective would it be to implement interventions based on the theory?
To what extent does the theory fit within the organization’s or agency’s philosophy?
What do research studies say about how effective the interventions are?