Although most social workers in the world are aware of Ann Hartman's contributions to social work practice, it is probably reasonable to say that not many of them are aware of her name.
In 1959, Hartman began her career in Akron, Ohio, as a caseworker for the Summit County Child Welfare Board. She went on to work in mental health and family services in the New York region after getting her master's in social work. She began working as a social work researcher and instructor at the University of Michigan faculty in 1974, following the completion of her PhD. Through the National Child Welfare Training Center and the Ann Arbor Center for the Family, she reengaged in family social work. She transferred to the Smith College School of Social Work in Massachusetts in 1986.
Hartman made two linked advances in social work that continue to have an impact on current methods. Both were included in her first significant work, a 1978 paper titled Diagrammatic appraisal of family interactions that published in Social Casework (later renamed Families in society).
Her introduction of the ecomap (also known as an ecogram) and the genogram, two straightforward sketching techniques that allow social workers to represent social and familial links, was her first contribution to social work. Both are useful for planning, assessing, and intervening. They can be utilized by the social worker alone or as a tool when conducting client interviews. "The linkages, the themes, and the quality of the family's life seem to spring off the page and this leads to a more holistic and integrated vision," says Hartman in reference to the tool's visual strength. Later, additional researchers such as Monica McGoldrick, who focused on utilizing genograms to visualize intergenerational family interactions, and Mark Mattaini, who focused on using graphics in therapeutic practice, expanded on this area of research.
Following from the ecomap and genogram, ecological social work is the second significant contribution Hartman made to social work. Clinical practice should incorporate the client's social network in addition to focusing on the individual client. Engaging with that social network and bringing forth its potential for support and care is one of the social worker's objectives. In that sense, it would be possible to move past the conventional strategy of treatments focused on particular people. It is hardly surprising that Ann Hartman's initial focus on family ties has been expanded to other social relations given the demographic shifts of previous decades. Many people now place less value on their families.
This strategy could be characterized as a compromise between individual and political social work. In recent social policy developments, such as those in the UK and the Netherlands, where severe budget cuts for social workers are linked to a greater reliance on care provided by family and other people in the social networks of clients, it can be found in family social work as well as in family social work.