Methods of social work intervention, as has been discussed in previous chapters, are the main means by which workers manage the process of work over time, providing structure and purpose for all involved. To utilise methods, workers need to be clear about their strategic response to the needs of service users, both expressed and implicit, in order to plan and intervene appropriately. Selecting a method of intervention is therefore more than a mere technical process of information-gathering and form-filling to achieve a desired outcome. As Milner and O’Byrne (2002) acknowledge, it requires synthesising the analysis and understanding of the service user and the worker with the mandate of the agency providing the service. Therefore, methods of intervention take place within a context that constrains and confines the available options and is rarely straightforward. Through negotiation, the competing demands of all parties must be considered and the basis for anti-oppressive practice established. This is rarely a simple activity, as the boundaries between perspectives are often not fully articulated. For example, the control requirement of the criminal justice process may at first glance be entirely at odds with the welfare aspirations of the worker, yet both perspectives are likely to be implicit in the discussion with the service user when deciding upon an appropriate method of intervention. Nevertheless, workable plans have to be developed if change is to occur for service users and the selection of an appropriate method can often be the key to ensuring co-operation and participation.
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