Socw 6210 wek 11 | SOCW 6210 – Human Behavior and the Social Environment II | Walden University


Application of Theoretical Perspectives – Part 2

As you approach this final week of your coursework in HSBE II, you may reflect on your increased understanding of human development. You have explored the bio-psycho-social development of individuals at all stages of the life span. You have applied personal and environmental concepts and theories to social work cases and to social work in general.

This week, you complete assignments that allow you to apply your increased understanding of life-span development. You apply a systems perspective to social work practice and consider how the application of a systems perspective might contribute to advocacy and social change.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Apply a systems perspective to social work
  • Analyze the influence of a systems perspective on social work practice

Photo Credit: [scyther5]/[iStock / Getty Images Plus]/Getty Images

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2016). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (10th ed.). Boston, MA:  Cengage Learning.
Chapter 1, “Introduction to Human Behavior and the Social Environment” (pp. 11-54)

Larsson, S., & Sjöblom, Y. (2010). Perspectives on narrative methods in social work research. International Journal of Social Welfare, 19(3), 272–280.
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Plummer, S. -B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. M. (Eds.). (2014). Social work case studies: Foundation year. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. [Vital Source e-reader].
“Working With People With Disabilities: The Case of Lester” (pp. 31–33)Note: This text is available as an eBook (electronic book). It will be provided to you via an email from the Walden University book store.

Pack, M. (2011). Discovering an integrated framework for practice: a qualitative investigation of theories used by social workers working as sexual abuse therapists. Journal of Social Work Practice, 25(1), 79–93.
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Roscoe, K., Carson, A. M., & Madoc-Jones, L. (2011). Narrative social work: Conversations between theory and practice. Journal of Social Work Practice, 25(1), 47–61.
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Savaya, R., & Gardner, F. (2012). Critical reflection to identify gaps between espoused theory and theory-in-use. Social Work, 57(2), 145–154.
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Optional Resources

Use the link below to access the MSW home page, which provides resources for your social work program.
MSW home page

Discussion: Systems Perspective and Social Change

Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman (2016) stated, “Clients are affected by and in constant dynamic interactions with other systems, including families, groups, organizations, and communities” (p. 35-36). As a social worker, when you address the needs of an individual client, you also take into account the systems with which the client interacts. Obtaining information about these systems helps you better assess your client’s situation. These systems may provide support to the client, or they may contribute to the client’s presenting problem.

For this Discussion, review “Working With People With Disabilities: The Case of Lester.”Consider the systems with which Lester Johnson, the client, interacts. Think about ways you might apply a systems perspective to his case. Also, consider the significance of the systems perspective for social work in general.

By Day 3

Post a Discussion in which you explain how multiple systems interact to impact individuals. Explain how you, as a social worker, might apply a systems perspective to your work with Lester Johnson. Finally, explain how you might apply a systems perspective to social work practice.

By Day 5

Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts.

Respond to at least two colleagues in one of the following ways:

  • Critique your colleague’s suggestion about how to apply a systems perspective to Lester Johnson’s case.
  • Identify one way that a concept in your colleague’s post might contribute towards advocacy and social change.
  • Discuss how you might apply the empowerment and strengths approach to one of the concepts your colleague has presented.

 Kate Fullmer RE: Discussion – Week 11COLLAPSE

According to Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, “Every individual included in a system maintains a role within that system. We all have many roles because we are involved in multiple systems.” (P.28). This can explain how multiple systems interact to impact individuals. Also according to Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, “A system can be defined as a set of elements that are connected to make a function whole.” (P.23). Systems can include our families, our jobs, education, and our community. All of these systems that are a part of of our daily lives impacts who we are as individuals. 

Applying a systems perspective in the case of Lester: Lester has experienced a traumatic event that has impacted his physical capabilities and health. I would first look at his support system, assessing the subsystem which would be his children in this case. Lester’s children have not visited him while he is receiving treatment, have only made contact via phone. His sister in law is the most supportive who visits daily and assists with managing his care. The family system and how it functions is something important to assess to get a better idea of Lester’s relationships. I would also look at what his home life is like to assess the system stability, which is known as homeostasis. It also is important to be mindful of the many roles Lester plays within all of his daily systems. Lester lost his wife due to breast cancer and experienced a problem with alcohol which he addressed. Lester works as an electrician and is also an active member of church. These are examples of Lester’s roles in life. 

Applying a systems perspective to social work practice: Looking at the individual’s systems and the roles they play among those systems is essential to assessing the needs of the client. This will provide insight to personal relationships, home life, employment, hobbies, religion, morals, and goals. This is a particularly helpful perspective for social work practice when working at a Micro level. 


Kirst-Ashman, K. & Zastrow, C. (2016). Understanding Human Behavior & the Social Environment. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. 

Mandaline Latham

How multiple systems interact to impact individuals: Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman (2016) state that “every individual in a system maintains a role within that system” and their individuals roles in the system is fluid as we are involved in a number of different systems (pg. 28). The number of different systems interacts with one another as more often than not they are all interconnected and have an impact on the individual. For example, an individual is part of a family system as well as an employer system. Their roles in each system are different, but still interact with one another as they go to work to provide for their family and/or may have to miss work due to familial obligations.

Apply a systems perspective to your work with Lester Johnson: Lester Johnson suffered a traumatic event when he was involved in a road accident. It is important to look at the systems Lester is a part of and his role in each one. Lester does have a family, but seems to only receive limited/little support. Lester does work as an electrician and therefore has an employer/work system. He is involved with the church, which is another example of a system he associates with. All of these systems serve a different purpose for Lester and his role in each one is different compared to the other.

Explain how you might apply a systems perspective to social work practice: When working in the social work field, one can apply the systems perspective in how they look at the major aspects/influencers in a client’s life. This will help in creating obtainable and relevant treatment goals. Furthermore, it will provide the social worker with more insight in the clients life such as their relationships, environment, hobbies, and values.

Kirst-Ashman, K. & Zastrow, C. (2016). Understanding Human Behavior & the Social Environment. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. 

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