The Task-Centered Approach: Doing Things in Time of Crisis

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The Task-Centered Approach: Doing Things In Time of Crisis

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In this essay I will discuss the Task-centred approach and compare and contrast this to crisis intervention. I will then relate it to scenario 2 Greg and Susan.1I will do an analysis of how my group understood this theory and scenario. I will openly discuss the ethical implications of the task centred approach and crisis intervention as well as do a critical analysis of its key concepts.

Definition of Task- centred approach& different interpretations

According to Doel and Marsh (2014),the Task-centred approach is a forward thinking, goal-oriented approach to social work. It is a practice-based approach built on research. According to Beckett (2006),the interventions of the task centred approach aims to empower service users and help resolve problems within ashort period. The approach is used as a method to structure solutions to problems and also gives service users experience of problem solving in general (Beckett, 2006).

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Task-centred approach and its process in relation to the scenario

The first stage of the task centred approach is to identify the areas in which a service user wants to change a problem they have found. The intention of this approach is to recognise problems the service user may have. It involves the clients to work in partnership with the social worker.In relation to Greg and Susan the problems that were identified are dealing with finances, debt and Greg’s unemployment (Beckett, 2006).

The social worker makes an action plan with Greg and Susan which consists of dates, for example in the group presentation the social worker meets with Greg and Susan to listen to their problems. She explains the task-centred approach to them and they prioritise problems to work on.

We identified that these problems have to be agreed on in order for the social worker to continue with this process as without the service user’s agreement the approach cannot be classified as task-centredpractice (Beckett, 2006).

How my group understood the scenario and theory

My group understood the theory quite well in relation to the scenario as we explained the task centred approach in detail, we understood key concepts of the approach quite well, for example we discussed how the approach can create dependency on the social worker. We focused on agreements of the tasks and deadlines that were setby creating an action plan. We’ve thought about the approach in a critical way by analysing the strengths and weaknesses of this approach.

A better understanding on the task-centred approach was gained and I then continued to get more in-depth knowledge for this approach from doing research on the theory. I then noticed more about the ethical implications that social workers have to consider when using this approach with a service user.

Ethical considerations while carrying out the task-centred approach

There are general ethical principles that apply to social work such as; respecting the worth of human beings which includes treating everyone equally. Promotion welfare; social workers have the duty to benefit service users by meeting their needs. Lastly, promoting social justice: social workers have the obligation to remove inequalities which may damage people or groups (Banks, 2012).

In addition, social workers need to consider some ethical implications whilst using the task-centred approach. According to Beckett (2006), the service user should have the right to refuse help from the social worker, however just by giving this right may not be enough because the service user may be reluctant to express that he/she doesn’t want help. We need to consider and be aware of the nature of ‘agreements’ or in other words contracts drawn between the social worker and the service user. The task-centred approach may be criticised for focusing too much on the individual’s case which implies that it focuses on the individual to much by detecting the problem with the individual rather than looking at external factors. According to Banks (2012), the social worker will need to make sure that the goals and tasks don’t cause harm to the service user or anyone else and is compatible with the ethical principles and values within social work.

For example, in relation to Greg and Susan the social worker may focus too much on Greg and Susan’s problems such as Greg’s unemployment rather than focusing on the external factor such as why is he unemployed?

Why would I use the task–centred approach and not another?

In this section I will discuss why I would prefer to use the task-centred approach in relation to Greg and Susan’s scenario rather than crisis intervention.

According to Healy (2005), the task-centred approach promotes clarity of thinking between service users and the service providers. In this scenario it helps the social worker understand key problems that Greg and Susan have. It may empower Greg and Susan with daily living tasks without providing on-going support from agencies also it is a generic approach meaning that it can be applied to a wide range of problems and difficulties. (Teater, 2014).

In contrast to the strengths, there are certain limitations and weaknesses of this approach. The task-centred approach relies on a selective use of behavioural approaches leading to oversimplification of the strategies and complex problems like depression. It creates dependency on the social worker. It may not always be helpful and cases tend to get stuck. It may not be applicable to service users with learning disabilities and mental health problems and people may respond to crisis differently due to age, culture, etc.(Healy, 2005).

Roberts and Ottens (2005), crisis intervention alludes to the strategies used to offer quick and transient help to people who experience an occasion that creates emotional, mental, physical, and behavioural troubles. According to Robert there are seven stages to crisis intervention: planning & carrying out assessment, Building rapport, identifying the problem, exploring feelings, generate alternatives, develop action plan and follow up: meeting regularly to review the plan.

On the contrary to the task-centred approach crisis intervention has certain strengths such as providing clear steps to follow when addressed with a crisis situation. The process is clear and practical for social workers to follow. Some social workers can switch to other theories such as task centred (Teater, 2014).

However,there are some limitations as crisis intervention doesn’t address the underlying issues that may be contributing to the problem. Crisis intervention is difficult to implement with service users who are not receptive to the social workers involvement. (Teater, 2014).

According to Teater(2014), there are ethical considerations that social workers should be mindful of the role that the client’s culture can play in defining and overcoming a crisis. What may appear as a crisis situation to one person or culture may be another’s stressful or challenging event.

I would prefer to use the task centred approach and not crisis intervention becausecrisis intervention focuses more on dealing with a stressful situation that individuals find difficult to cope with for example a death of a loved one or attempting suicide. It helps individuals improve their level of coping, confidence and problem solving. The task-centred approach is more useful for Greg and Susan as they need an approach that will help them with goal setting and also look at underlying issues. Crisis intervention doesn’t seem to do that. Crisis intervention is a short-term approach which focuses more on the service user’s feelings and building rapport so to an extent it is similar to counselling.(Teater, 2014).

Would someone using that theoretical approach use the strategies my group used?

My group made an action plan for the task centred approach to set deadlines so that there are clear dates on when to achieve goals by. We also related the empowerment theory alongside the task centred approach to Greg and Susan asit provides employment opportunities for Greg (referring him to employability skills classes) and offering family support sessions where the family can build strong relationships. According to Teater (2014) someone else may use a combination of other theories and strategies and across many settings. A social worker may use motivational interviewing before using the task centred approach in order to support someone in their decision to make a change and then identify the problem afterwards. Someone else may also incorporate aspects of the systems theory even if the service user defines the problem and what goals they need to achieve, they do not need to be the focus of intervention.


In conclusion the task centred approach is a good approach to use while dealing with Greg and Susan’s situation as it provides a clear outline on goals. The interventions arise through the priority of goals. My group understood this theory well. I also understand that social work draws on ethical principles that have to be upheld and there are certain ethical implications while using the task centred approach as discussed above. I would prefer to use the task centred approach rather than crisis intervention as it’s more useful in setting out goals. The task centred approach can be compared and contrasted withthe psychosocial theory this approach states that we have to look at an individual and their environment simultaneously. Whereas,the task centred approach focuses more on the individual this approach looks more at the interactions that go on in the environment surrounding the individual. (Teater, 2014).

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