Methods of intervention provide theoretical underpinning and practical structure to the process of work over time with service users. They are as integral to the social work process as assessment, yet are less clearly documented in terms of the process of method selection. Arguably, in recent years methods have become less important for practitioners as social work agencies have given greater emphasis to assessment and immediate or short-term solutions (Howe 1996; Lymbery 2001). This is reinforced by the increasingly reactive nature of service provision and the perceived need for pragmatic solutions. In addition, the move towards care management has meant the use of particular methods has increasingly been located in specialist areas of service provision, thereby potentially reducing the necessity for workers to have knowledge of a range of methods. Workers’ understanding of methods of intervention has therefore often become superficial, impacting adversely on their application in practice, with workers claiming to utilise a particular method when this is not evidenced in their practice (Thompson 2000). For example, workers often claim to be utilising a task-centred method when engaged in a programme of practical tasks or cite crisis intervention as the selected method based simply on the existence of serious anxiety or concern.
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