Phase 3


Consider the long-term goals you set for your client system in the Assess phase, as well as the short-term goals that will lead to accomplishment of those long-term goals. You also listed the tasks that you and your client system would undertake in the service of those goals.


In this section you will describe specifically how you might accomplish those goals. For example, if one of the tasks you listed was to help Mrs. Sanchez learn English, how precisely could you make that happen? Could you help her enroll in a night class at the local high school? Could you find a bilingual person in the neighborhood who would give her lessons in exchange for baby-sitting? Could your agency provide English classes for all interested persons in the neighborhood? It is up to you to use your imagination and the resources available to turn these goals into real possibilities.

Some of the intervention activities that you can engage in with, or on behalf of, your client, include the following:

Information gathering and sharing

Clients often require assistance in the activities that will move them toward their goal. For example, clients may want a job but not know how to go about getting one or how to acquire the skills needed for specific jobs. They might not know their legal rights—in which case, you could either find the information that they need or find an appropriate referral.

Resource mobilization or acquisition

The most common of all intervention activities is to seek goods or services needed by the client system. Resources may come from either formal systems (state, federal, or municipal programs, whose reason for being is to provide those resources) or informal systems (for example, family, friends, religious organization, or neighborhood entities). Generally, the use of informal systems is preferred, because usually formal systems are likely to give only limited help.


Related to resource acquisition is the process of working with or on behalf of the client system to acquire resources that would otherwise not be accessible. Often, in helping one client, the worker helps many who are in the same situation. For example, suppose that a client both needs and wants to work but the public transportation routes do not reach her neighborhood. If a worker worked with the system to modify the route so that public transportation became a viable option for the client, then the client would benefit—as would everyone else who lived in that neighborhood who had no other means of transportation.


Clients are most likely to work toward change when they perceive a payoff at the end of the process. To maintain that optimism, the worker must be supportive and encouraging and be able to frame setbacks as an inevitable part of the process. The message should always be that clients will be successful, with perseverance.

Questions to Consider While Beginning Your Intervention

To begin your intervention planning, consider the following questions, focusing on the perspectives of the particular Sanchez family member you have identified as your central client first, and then layering on the perspectives of other family members and, potentially, outside stakeholders (such as Vicki’s case manager or Carmen’s guidance counselor).

Step 1: Goals and Needs

  1. What are the long-term goals of this client, in order of importance? Focus on the first one first.
  2. What resources will be required? Include both the formal and informal resources you defined earlier, as well as additional resources that do not appear on the town map or in the case files.

Step 2: Client Tasks

  1. For your long term goals, what are the steps needed to meet that goal? In other words, what are the interim goals whose accomplishment will lead to completion of the longer term goal?

Step 3: Social Worker Tasks

  1. What can YOU do that the client cannot?

Step 4: Timeline

  1. What time factors are involved in accomplishing this goal? How long do you anticipate it will take? Does something else have to happen? Is this a goal that can be accomplished by a certain deadline?

Step 5: Coalitions

  1. Who or what else is critical to accomplishing this goal? What role do they play in the client’s life? What is the likely response, and if it is negative, what can you and the client do to overcome this barrier? Add these elements to the client's ecomap.

My Intervene Tasks

Task 1

Go back to the town map (see the Engage phase). Note the community’s resources, other potential resources you would want to incorporate, and informal resources that could figure into your intervention.

Task 2

Our knowledge of systems theory informs us of the inevitability of changes to other systems when one system undergoes a shift. Think about the likely outcome of successful intervention beyond this client system. What are some of the possibilities?

Task 3

Our knowledge of systems theory informs us of the inevitability of changes to other systems when one system undergoes a shift. Think about the likely outcome of successful intervention beyond this client system. What are some of the possibilities?