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 of the relevant systems in the social environment that can be enlisted in the problem-solving process. These include agencies, 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 his or her story of culture, history, and so on; 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/homeowner at the center of this case. Note your dual relationship to both your neighbors and the homeless people, many of whom are clients in your agency.

Task 2

Look at the photographs of each community member (as well as the local organizations), accessed by clicking on the town map icons. It is important in the real world to be able to put names to faces, and connect those to the concerns of each.

Task 3

Take some time to get to know your neighborhood and its environs by “walking” it in the "Exploring The Town" tool. Social workers need to understand the “lived geography” of the places in which they work. What do you notice? For example, are there stores, agencies, or other services in walking distance of the residents? What are those? Is there a school nearby? In the real world, you would also want to observe the following: Are the yards well-kept? Are there alarm systems signs on the lawns? Does the neighborhood appear to have “mixed use” zoning (this can mean that the area is zoned for some combination of residential, commercial, industrial, office, institutional, or other land uses)? What other elements of the neighborhood are of interest to you?