Future social worker practitioner. Understanding the importance of working in group work and role-play is essential to gain skills and prepare for future practice. The field of social work practice is broadening with group work and conferences, which leads to collectively respond to individuals, family or groups to deal with particular social issues. It recommends that future social workers and human services practitioners understand group work and role-play practices and skills. Erford (2018, p. 3) defines group work as a group of people who meet regularly to achieve a common goal. These regular meetings can be learning tools and challenges through group processing. This reflective essay focuses on personal experience working in the group to develop a group role-play and use family group conferencing to decide to make and solving family issues. It examines social work theories applied in group role played and personal experience. It also explores the experience and challenges of working in a group to achieve role play goals.
Theories behind the role-play and family approach.
The group role played was consisted of three characters: Mission Australia Family Support program (MAFSG) Social worker, a client (Hong) and client’s family member representative (Alex). The motive of group role play was to support a client (Hong) who has been struggling with multiple complex issues. The group approached the client’s complex issues by applying a holistic approach; this helped the group to understand the client’s interrelated issues and make an appropriate decision towards a positive intervention. Fook (2016, P. 53) supports this by stating that when social workers utilise a holistic approach, they develop skills and knowledge which lead to positive assessment and prioritise major client’s required intervention Fook (, 2016).
Therefore, the group studied and assessed the client’s complex issues and decided to focus on the client’s drugs addiction and how it has impacted the client’s life and established intervention goals. The first goal was to presume that the client has been engaging with services needed to attend drugs detox rehabilitation. The second goal was to find the client’s daughter care while attending a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. This way, the client’s parent (Alex) was invited to a family group conference to discuss the client’s daughter care option. In addition, applying a holistic approach enabled the group to reflect on Hong’s behaviours and factors affecting her life. However, it also enables a practitioner to identify the client’s strengths towards the changes the client wants Ruch (, 2005 p116).
The role play demonstrated that the group used a strengths-based perspective because the client emphasised that she wants to change her drugs habit for a better future for her and her daughter. Payne (2014) points out that it believes clients have strengths towards the changes they want; therefore, the practitioner supports the client to identify their strengths; during the family conference discussion, a client showed that she was determined to attend a drugs detox program. It means that in role-play, the group focused on the promotion of the client’s self -determination within the client’s intervention process (Scerra, 2012). Cognitive – Behaviour Theory was as well behind the role-play. The client demonstrated that she wanted to change her drug behaviour, learn a new way of a better life, and establish a positive relationship with her family (Payne, 2014).
The system theory was applied in the role-play because the social worker and client worked together for three months, exploring more support options. It means that the social worker has identified other clients’ crucial social support systems over this period that can contribute to the client’s helping process. Payne (2014 p184- 185) highlights that to achieve the client’s intervention. The social worker must engage with other social networks such as the community, family and other social agencies. In the role-play, the group recognised the importance of involving the client’s family and prepare for a family group conference. Thus, family group conference focus on bringing family member together to support individually vulnerable. In this role play, the social worker wanted to cooperate with the family for the care of the client’s daughter to facilitate the client’s wish to participate in a drugs rehabilitation program Dijkstra et al. l (2017, p 255)
Solution focus was the core approach to apply during the family group conference. The meeting’s objective was to find a solution for the client’s daughter’s parenting while the client attends a drugs rehabilitation program. Drugs have been a significant contributor to the client’s complex issues; therefore, the solution-focused role play is a short-term intervention for the client to facilitate successful long-term goals. Elliot (2000) explains that the solution focus perspective concentrates on the client taking the lead in solving the problem. It means that when a client recognises their problem, they have strengths, ideals, and abilities to address their problem. A social worker supports the client to recognise these strengths and facilitates the changing client wants to achieve. In the role-play, the client identified drugs and alcohol as the main issues in her life, and she is determined to change for a better future. Furthermore, the social worker played a role in facilitating the client’s helping process and involves family to family group conferencing for the client’s solution. During the role-play, the social worker questions asked to the client were intending to promote changes the client wants and met to promote the intervention goals (Elliot, 200).
However, for family group conferencing to function, a social worker needs to apply cultural sensitivity perspective. It was applied when the social worker asked the client parent if he needed a Vietnams interpreter before the commencement of the meeting. In the middle of the meeting, the social worker acknowledged the client’s parent that he understood how disappointed the family could feel when a family breaks down according to Vietnamese family values and culture. It is an indication that in role-play, a social worker was aware of the client’s cultural background, and he was competent, according to AAWS (Maria, 2020)
In addition, in family group conferencing, social workers had to apply an anti-oppressive approach to achieve positive outcomes. In the role-play, the social worker introduces himself to the group and explains the role and the organisation’s services to the participants. It means that the social worker was able to make participants feel relax and welcome rather than feeling powerless; the social worker managed to balance and focused on the agenda of the meeting. In the role-play, the social worker demonstrated self–reflection and showed an understanding of power and oppression (Larson, 2008, P. 40-41).
The Role Play Complied with The Ethical Requirements of the AASW.
My role in the role play was as a social worker at the Mission Australia Family support program. This role has complied with AASW ethical requirements. The fact client was from a diverse background during the interview. The social worker asked the client if he would like a Vietnams interpreter as well. In the middle of the meeting discussion, the social worker rephrased and stated to the client father, Alex, that he understands that according to Vietnamese culture and family values, it can be a challenge to the family and disappointment when the family breaks down. It showed that the social worker in this role demonstrated cultural competence and sensitivity according to AASW. (2020, p12) “cultural safety and sensitivity” code of ethics.
AASW (2020, P. 14) “Services user self – determination “this code of ethics complied; the main objective of the family group meeting was to support the client to participate in the drugs rehabilitation program which client was determined to attend. It was the client choice for her better future. In role-play, ‘client stated several times that she wants to change her life. The social worker role was to facilitate and empower the client to be free in her choice and decision making (AAWS, 2020. P. 15).
AASW (2020) Information privacy and confidentiality; Social worker complied with this code of ethics by informing the participants that all discussion during the meeting was confidential and the client has the right to access the information if required. AASW (2020) According to the role-play, participants’ opinions, questions, and overall interaction were complied with by the AASW code of ethics. Thus, there was no harm, conflict of interest, and misguiding the client (Fine and Tram, 2009).
My Experience of Playing Social Work Role
During group task allocation, I was tasked to act as a social worker role in the group role. Therefore my experience in this role; I had to reflect and understand more what being a social worker would be like in Family support services. In addition, I have worked as a youth worker in various community organisations; therefore, I reflected on my previous experience in human services to perfect my role as a social worker (Erford, 2018).
However, thinking of the role played and the services the organisation offered. Being a male social worker would have been a challenge in this role. Mark (2008) supports this by stating that in the early welfare services field of practice, male workers preferred to undertake youth work in children and youth protection instead of becoming general family support practitioners. However, being a social worker working for a client who has developed multiple complex issues with the role played. It felt that a female social worker would have been very productive engaging with Hong because the nature of the caring role is suitable for a female social worker ( Mark, 2008).
In addition, playing this role of social worker, It felt like the social worker had power whereby this power needed to be balanced and focus the objective of the meeting. The fact that the social worker has been working with the client for three months means that the social worker has established a positive working relationship with Hong. Therefore, the client does not feel powerless. Fook (2008) states that power is created, not possessed. It means that a social worker in this role had to reflect on the client’s vulnerabilities, cultural background personally, and how they define power and work together towards empowerment rather than feeling powerless (Fook, 2008).
How the Group prepared the Role Play, the Role I played in Planning and Creating the Role Play and Any Difficulties I had and What Actions I took to resolve Them.
The group met numerous times out of the class time and weekends to prepare for the role, and the group had to watch Hong’s video and read the assignment requirements. In addition, watched other online social worker interview video particularly these learning and practising solution focus approach. However, according to role-play, the client had multiple complex issues. It means that the group had to assess the client’s case holistically and identified that alcohol was the main factor contributing to the client’s complexities issues. For example, the Victoria Government department of families, fairness and housing consider a client who has multiple issues such as substance high risk to themselves and the community (DHHS, 2020)
Therefore, the group creatively imagined how negatively Hong’s substance use impacted her life and the daughter’s future. From this point of view, the group decided to play the role-play focusing on the client’s drug and alcohol solution.
The challenge that experienced group is that the group consisted of three-member; accordingly, with Hong’s video case. It was challenging to design a play script for three group members; to resolve this challenge, group members had to critically reflect on the objective and focus on achieving these objectives. I was able to identify the issues and focused on what we want to achieve as a group (Mattson, 2014).
Teamwork was essential in our group, the fact that the group had only three members. It was essential to work cohesively to focus on the purpose of the group role play, reflecting on teamwork. The group was able to have an effective communication process during the group session. The group as well communicated through social media by creating a group social media platform. The group were able to decide concerning task and roles without any conflict. It contributed to a group member completing their allocated task on time (Eford, 2018).
In conclusion, working in the group role was very creative, especially viewing videos and write my role play script. I developed knowledge and broaden my interview skills. In addition, group work skills gained while working, planning and completing my allocated role pay will be transferable in future practices. Overall, the reading, research, and solution-focused approach were key learning as a future social worker practitioner. I become knowledgeable about how groups work and broaden my understanding of family group conference works in social work, particularly in family support setting programs.
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