4 Most Popular Social Work Practice Models

Social work practice models can be defined as frameworks or concepts that guide the delivery of social work services.

These models provide a structured approach to addressing the complexities and challenges involved in social work practice, promoting effective interventions and positive client outcomes.

Social workers work with people, often working in isolation and often in very complex and difficult conditions, to enable the person to achieve their goals in life. Social workers work individually, or with agencies, sometimes as part of the criminal justice system, to help people in crisis or who need their help. The model of social work is based on the idea that people want to change their lives for the better.

4 most popular social work practice models are task-centred practice, cognitive behaviour therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy and narrative approach.

Task-Centred Practice (TCP)

Task-centred practice (TCP) is an approach commonly used in social work that aims to address and resolve the difficulties faced by individuals and families. It is characterized by its focus on collaborative problem-solving and the achievement of specific goals.

TCP begins with the identification and assessment of the main tasks or issues at hand, which are usually determined through extensive discussions with the client. Once the tasks are established, a plan of action is formulated, with clear objectives and the allocation of responsibilities to both the social worker and the client. The intervention involves regular meetings and reviews, where progress is assessed, and adjustments are made as necessary. Social workers can select the strategy that resonates the most with them and their clients in order to provide the most effective assistance.

social work practice models
Social Work Practice Models

Task-Centered Practice (TCP) has limitations that need to be considered. It may not be the most suitable approach for clients with complex or deep-seated issues that require long-term therapeutic intervention. The structured nature of TCP can pose time constraints, potentially limiting the depth of exploration into a client’s needs.

There is a risk of oversimplification in TCP, as its focus on specific tasks may overlook the underlying complexities and dynamics of a client’s situation. Success in TCP heavily relies on the client’s motivation and ability to engage in tasks, which can vary among individuals.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a well-recognized behavioural therapy developed in the 1970s to treat psychological problems. In its latest version, CBT focuses on helping a patient develop or strengthen his or her thoughts, feelings and behaviours to achieve a sense of wellness. CBT has become widely accepted in many nations as a viable treatment for anxiety, depression, eating disorders, trauma, grief, phobias, chronic pain, and other problems.

The fundamental idea of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is that our thoughts and feelings determine our reality and that by altering how we perceive the world, we can alter how we experience it.

In the case of an anxious person, he or she may believe that everything is going to go wrong on a particular day. This preconception then causes the individual to pay undue attention to things that go wrong, reinforcing the idea and enhancing it. With cognitive behavioural therapy, the client is challenged to confront that notion, to try to see things differently, and to become more aware of how things actually are rather than their beliefs of how things are.

In addition to standard talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) procedures frequently combine meditation, mindfulness, relaxation, and out-of-session homework. CBT teaches clients how to take control of their own therapy and their own lives, how to be more present in the present moment, and how to be more aware of the reality around them, through the use of these approaches.

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

SFBT works under the assumption that clients are the experts on their own problems and that they are, to a certain extent, the creators of their own reality. Clients already have the solutions to their problems, and all they need is assistance in identifying them, according to the implication of these assumptions. After that, SFBT concentrates on assisting clients in developing their own innovative solutions.

Hedging language, such as “I wonder what would happen if…”, and coping enquiries, such as asking clients how they manage to accomplish their daily duties even though the problem in question is interfering with their ability to do so. It is also typical to use the “miracle question,” in which the social worker poses a hypothetical enquiry such as, “Suppose a miracle happened tomorrow and you no longer had this problem.”

What first thing comes to mind when you think of it?” By addressing these questions in this manner, the social worker and the client collaborate to develop realistic solutions and goals that will assist them in overcoming or dealing with their problems.

Narrative Approach

The narrative approach to social work assists clients in telling their stories about their challenges. This has some consequences. To begin, it assists clients in viewing the issue as external to themselves rather than as an integral part of themselves.

Secondly, it assists people in recognising the problem’s impact on their lives, both positive and negative, and can aid them in gaining compassion for themselves and their circumstances. Finally, it allows the social worker and client to brainstorm alternate narratives that allow the client to imagine what life would be like without the issue at hand.

The fundamental benefit of the narrative technique is that it assists the client in gaining distance and objectivity from the situation. Additionally, the narrative technique can be utilised to assist clients in determining the causality that resulted in the problem, which can help inform future behaviour.


The four social work practice models explored—task-centred practice, cognitive behavioural therapy, solution-focused brief therapy, and narrative therapy – offer a diverse toolkit for social workers. While each model has its own strengths and areas of application, understanding all four allows social workers to tailor their approach to meet the specific needs of each client.

Task-centered practice provides a structured framework for goal-oriented problem-solving. Cognitive behavioural therapy tackles negative thought patterns and behaviours. Solution-focused brief therapy empowers clients to find their own solutions. Narrative therapy helps clients reclaim their stories and rewrite their identities.

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Raj Maurya

Raj Maurya is the founder of Digital Gyan. He is a technical content writer on Fiverr and When not working, he plays Valorant.

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