Social Work Theories

social work theories| social work scrapbo blogThe word theory can become quite confusing…in social work ‘theory’ is thrown around and can often become synonymous with model, approach, or practice.  Defining and understanding theories, perspectives and practice are important in social work.  The importance and usefulness of theories are discussed along with the major theories, perspectives and practices used in social work.

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What is theory || an attempt to explain

A theory is set of ideas that helps to explain why something happens in a certain way.  Theories thus, help to predict future outcomes.

Why care about Theory|| theories can guide social work in 5 key areas

  1. Observation:  tells us what to look for
  2. Description:  provides a framework to arrange and organize observations
  3. Explanation:  suggests how different observations can be connected; causal relationships
  4. Prediction:  tells what may happen next
  5. Intervention:  suggests what to do to bring changes

Theory, Perspectives and Practice Models…OH my, what’s the difference


  • Theories explain why the problem may be occurring and what interventions may be effective.
  • Perspectives tell what aspects are highlighted in session


  • Practice models are like recipes, step by step guides for client sessions.

Major Theories used in Social Work Practice

Current social work practice models

Problem Solving, Task-Centered, Solution Focused, Narrative, Cognitive Behavioral, Crisis

4 thoughts on “Social Work Theories”

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