You will understand major event of social case work history in the
following article. You are also going to learn about the Contribution of
different scholars in the development of social case work in details. Lets
Social case work can be described as a professional method that
aims to develop the social functioning of an individual in the most basic
sense. It was one of the first „methods‟ to be used in the
profession of social work. From the early days of its inception, the
fundamental idea of social case work was to help people in distress.
In the words of Gordon and Hamilton “social casework which is both
a tool and area of work consists of processes which develop personality through
adjustment consciously affect individual by individual between man and his
Miss Richmond gives this definition of casework. “Social casework
is art of doing different things for and with different people by cooperating
with them to achieve at one and at the same time their own and their society’s
betterment.” Thus it is both art and science of resolving individual problems
in social area, for individual and society are interdependent and social forces
influence behaviour and attitude of an individual.
Historical Development of
Social Case work
Concept of Charity & Philanthropy:
Reaching out to those in need has always been the way of life in
all societies of the ancient. This feeling of goodwill and humaneness was
common among early church and philanthropists, who pooled in services to
relieve the effects of poverty, console the poor, care for vulnerable groups
like deprived children, the ailing and the elderly as well as correctional work
with the delinquents. Orphanages and homes for the elderly were typical results
of these activities. Charity was based on the principal criterion of worthiness
in determining allocation of aids to those in need.
Elizabethan Poor Law
In 1558 Queen Elizabeth I came to the throne and enacted the
Elizabethan Poor Law in 1601, which had its based on the concept of charity.
The Poor law in the intention of sorting out services and to cater to the needs
of those living in sub-standard conditions categorized people into:
1. Able body poor
2. Impotent poor
3. Dependent children
The Law by itself was an important effort on part of the
government to enlist categories of people in need of help and render services
accordingly. The Law also marks an important landmark of reiterating the role
& responsibilities of governments in framing policies to address the needs
of its people. However, Administrative loopholes and corruption led to the
failure of the law, which was supposed to cater to the needs of the vulnerable
group. The situation of the poor continued to be worse and flourishing charity
& philanthropic groups sustained their best in providing relief services to
Association for Improving
the Conditions of the Poor.
The Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor (A.I.C.P.)
formed in America in 1843 approached the problem of poverty more individually
than had been previously it was. The aims of A.I.C.P. were to visit the poor at
homes, to give counsel, to assist them practically in obtaining employment, to
instill in them self-respect and self-reliance, to inculcate the habits of
economy and whenever absolutely necessary to provide such relief as should be
suited to their wants.
Charity Organization Society in England & USA
Charity Organization Society was started in England in the year
1869. One of the key contributions of the COS to social work was its clear view
of the cause of many social problems in England. London was beset with a „mass
of chronic pauperism, beggary and crime‟, behind which lay „an
appalling amount of genuine misfortune. In the late nineteenth century, the
influx of immigrants from Europe and England to America increased rapidly
resulting in a gradual increase in the number of poor, sick and unemployed
people. This in turn led to an inadequacy on part of the local governments to
meet the basic needs such as shelter, money and food of these populations.
Eight years after the COS was established in London the first city-wide Charity
Organization was founded in the year 1877 in USA. By 1885, the number of
Charity Organization Societies exceeded one hundred throughout the USA.
Initiation of Training
The COS recognized that effective work required a level of
training of those people undertaking it. Indeed, one of its most significant
legacies to social work was the development of systematic programmes of
education and training for the role of the social worker. Towards the end of
the 19th century the New York School of Philanthropy was established which
engaged itself in providing the „paid agents‟ assistance to get trained
in the art of undertaking an investigation, arrive at a diagnosis and draw out
a treatment plan for individual clients and families.
The conference which was organized for the employees of charity
associations in 1873 was the first step taken to realize this need. It was
followed by a summer school in New York in 1898. Then, the first school of
social work was opened in Amsterdam in 1899. In New York, a school of social
work was opened in 1904. Its training period was one year. In 1917, its
training period was doubled. As a result of all this, social work education
with individual method was involved in the curriculum of the school as a separate
Major Landmarks in the History of Casework Development
Contribution of Friendly Visitor
Friendly Visitors was first used in 1877 by American Charity
Organization Society for its volunteers. Citizens of England with the object of
helping poor people founded this society. These people had funds to help poor
and needy. They were kindhearted volunteers who visited poor families to assess
their needs and to provide help, guidance and advice. They made their visits in
act of charity and not expecting any monetary rewards.
The role of Friendly Visitor was educational one and goal was to
improve the character through personal influence. Living advice and being model
were two methods by which the visitor influenced the client and there can be no
doubt that some of them did exert a wholesome personality influence in
difficult personal and family situation.
Friendly Visitors was subsequently supplemented by the term “Paid
Agents”. These Paid Agents developed systematic procedures in performing their
task. They collected data about the needy individuals and families and helped
them after assessing their needs.
Contribution of Mary Richmond
Mary Richmond for first time used the term “Case Work” to denote
the process of working with individuals in the conference held for the
employees of the charity associations. In the words of Richmond “Social
diagnosis is the attempt to arrive at as exact a definition as possible of
social situation and personality of the given client.
Richmond found that diagnosis is a process consisting sequence of
steps in order to facilitate the worker to arrive finally at his/her definition
of social situation and personality of client. The sequence of steps was as
with his family and near ones Search of inside and outside sources for
interpretation of information collected.
Contribution of Freudian Theory
Today, as in the past, many social workers---not only those who
specialize in psychoanalysis---draw on Freudian theory in their efforts to
understand human behavior. In 1918, the first psychoanalytically oriented
school of social work, Smith College School for Social Work, was founded to
teach students about Sigmund Freud’s ideas and their application to practice,
Freud’s influence is found in many areas of casework. His greatest influence
was however on caseworker- client relationship. Previously clients were
persuaded, convinced or even coerced into accepting the caseworker suggestions
and ideas. But now the caseworker worker with client by listening and honoring
the client’s self-expression.
Informally, a few psychoanalysts did provide training and
supervision to social workers and in 1948 social workers were first accepted at
the psychoanalytic institutes of the National Psychological Association for
Psychoanalysis, and the Postgraduate Centre for Mental Health, both in New
York. Organizations such as the American Psychoanalytic Association, which
earlier had prevented social workers, dropped their prohibitions against
admitting social workers.
Hamilton, Gordon (1940), “Theory and Practice of Social
Case Work, Columbia University Press, New York.
Mathew, Grace (1991), An Introduction to Social Work, Tata
Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Scope & Methods of the Family Service Agency (1953),
Family Service Association of America, New York.