Phase 1

Engage with the Client System

In the Engage phase, the social worker has two main goals:

1. Develop collaborative relationships with all key systems

These include all the relevant systems in the social environment that can be enlisted in the helping process. These include social service agencies, public institutions, neighbors, community organizations, places of worship, schools, friends, and relatives.

2. "Tune in" to the clients' narrative, or story

The "tuning in" process, first articulated by Lawrence Shulman, includes getting in touch with the client's feelings about their situation, and the effects of their stories of culture, history, and identity. It also includes getting in touch with your own feelings about these clients and the challenges they face.

Open your Case File

My Engage Tasks

Task 1

Read the description of you, the social worker/city resident at the center of this case. Note your dual relationships and the challenges they present.

Task 2

To personalize the experiences of the central ‘characters’ in the Hudson City case, look at the photographs of the community members and local organizations. Note questions you have about each person and their experiences, in preparation for collaboration with the client groups.

Task 3

Even today, when so many interactions occur virtually, social workers need to understand the “lived geography” of the places in which they work. Use the map of Hudson City to explore the town. What do you notice? What assets are present? What patterns or connections do you identify? What is the evidence of the effects of the disaster on Hudson City? What questions do you have? Which elements of the city are of particular interest to you?