While leading a Social Work Practice class, I asked the students to name the 3 levels of analysis used to organize systems. I thought I was providing a great clue by stating the word “systems” and dropping the number 3. After students sat with puzzled looks for 20 seconds, I realized that my perceived hints were not well received. It got me thinking about numerology in the social work profession.
Even before we get to dates that every social worker should have memorized (*idea for next article), social workers should have some pretty common constructs and theoretical frames on deck listed by their numbers.This is fun. I challenged myself to count from 1 to 10 identifying theories, constructs, or other social work content that fit the number. I was able to account for each number except 7.
The big numbers of the list are interestingly 3, 6, and 9. When someone says these numbers, social workers automatically consider specific content. For my students, if I give these number of spaces for an answer on a test, they should immediately think of content they have learned.
1 Personal-Professional Value Integration
The most important element of self-care is a consonant cognitive state. Who you are as a person is the same as who you are as a professional. What many are attempting to explain in separating you from the job is that you must physically take time away from the job. Just like a long distance runner cannot train nonstop, you need time to recover.
Yet, your value system is most sustainably one personally and professionally. It is dissociative to hold a different value personally than what your professional value prescribes. Seek to correlate the two. If they cannot be correlated, a social worker is trained to change the system.
2 The Smallest System
General Systems Theory is a core knowledge node in the social work profession. The worker and the client form the smallest possible system of interaction in the profession. Because it is so small, the energy in this smallest system can be intense. Worker skill in managing this energy can often make the difference in coping and adaptation.
3 Basic Ecological Systems Levels
Ecological systems perspective describes 3 basic levels: micro, meso, and macro. Beyond a simple categorization of systems components, this model provides a way to organize assessment and intervention–a perspective on the system interactions. The other constructs in ecological systems perspective are chrono and exo systems.
4 ASWB Examination Content Outline
Four of the 5 examinations available from ASWB have 4 sections of content. Advanced Generalist is the exception. It has 5 sections. This is important because knowing how the content of the test is organized may help you prepare. By the way, 5 is the number of ASWB exam administration categories —Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical.
5 NASW Best Practice Standards in Social Work Supervision http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/naswstandards/supervisionstandards2013.pdf
6 Ethical Parameters in the NASW Code of Ethics
Every student should commit these ethics to memory. They should also be ready at a moment’s notice to explain their meaning and application. They are service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. The most difficult to explain for many students is social justice. The most limited in understanding is integrity. By the way, the code is also organized into 6 sections. These 6 do not correspond with the 6 parameters.
8 Basic Social Worker Roles
Eight social worker roles exist. My list includes:
In the Broker role, social workers link clients with market resources.
In the Case Manager role, social workers assist clients to cope with crises.
In the Initiator role, social workers call attention to a need.
In the Advocate role, social workers represent the client against a more powerful entity.
In the Organizer role, social workers organize an activity or group.
In the Facilitator role, social workers lead a group process.
In the Educator role, social workers teach content to a client or group.
In the Administrator role, social workers manage toward a defined set of goals.
The 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) is the document outlining educational standards for the social work profession. Every social work program in the country is required to demonstrate student competence in 9 areas. Follow the link for a list.
10 NASW Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWCulturalStandards.pdf
11 NASW Standards for the practice of clinical social work https://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/clinical_sw.asp
12 Standards for Social Work Practice with Clients with Substance Use Disorders http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWATODStatndards.pdf
13 As with other conventions in the US, I did not find a single use of the number 13. It’s typically considered to be unlucky.
14 Standards for Social Work Practice in Child Welfare http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/childwelfarestandards2012.pdf
20 NASW Standards for practice in health care settings. https://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWHealthCareStandards.pdf
Dr. Michael Wright: Michael A. Wright, PhD, LAPSW is a Social Work Helper Contributor. He offers his expertise as an career coach, serial entrepreneur, and publisher through MAWMedia Group, LLC. Wright has maintained this macro practice consultancy since 1997. Wright lives in Reno, NV.