Social Casework Process


Casework process is working with individual clients for problem solving in an organised and systematic manner. The caseworker works with the client starting from knowing the client and its problem till the solution of the problem. This step by step process has been divided into several phases,i.e, intake, study, diagnosis, treatment and termination. A new phase has also been added recently to the case work process,i.e, evaluation. Let us now discuss these phases in detail.


The first step in the casework process is intake. The client comes to the caseworker or the agency with some problem. The agency assigns the client to a caseworker who takes down preliminary information about the client. Information such as name, age, address, referral through which the client comes, socioeconomic status, educational background, family tree etc. Any other data which might be useful during the case work process. It is at this stage the caseworker notes down the type of help the client is seeking and whether the agency has the resources for it or the caseworker has the competency to render that help. The caseworker at this point determines whether the problem is psychosocial or of any other nature. After these preliminary examinations the caseworker goes ahead with the process.


After the preliminary information about the client the Caseworker talks to the client to know about the genesis of the problem. The caseworker tries to determine the history of the problem,i.e, for how long the problem is existing. During the study of the problem all the details regarding the issue is noted down by the caseworker in detail. If needed the caseworker also schedules meetings with the family members or peer group whosoever are significant for the casework process. This is also the phase when the caseworker builds rapport with the client. A good rapport is the key to gain in depth information about the problem and later during the treatment phase. 

social casework process

It is to be noted that the study begins with the casework process to understand the problem but does not end with the onset of the next phase. It is a continuous process and information is sought throughout the casework process. During the study the caseworker determines

  • The nature of the problem
  • The causes of the problem
  • The extent to which the problem is affecting the client’s life.
  • The significance of the problem 
  • Efforts made by the client to solve the problem
  • The socio-cultural context of the problem

Psycho-social Diagnosis (Assessment)

After collecting sufficient information about the problem the caseworker starts to assess  the problem. Perlman has categorised the diagnosis in 3 categories

  1. Dynamic diagnosis
  2. Clinical diagnosis
  3. Etiological diagnosis

Dynamic diagnosis

Dynamic diagnosis tries to assess the problem in the present context. It studies how the problem is affecting the client in the present situation and what steps the client is taking for the problem solving. The causes of the problem, be it psychological or social, is determined. The current environmental factors are considered and their impact on the client’s situation is studied.

Clinical diagnosis

This type of diagnosis determines the client’s psychological condition. It interprets the client’s personality features, extent of maladaptation and behavioural maladaptation etc. Clinical diagnosis does not lay much emphasis on the environmental situation but rather on the client’s thought processes. 

Etiological diagnosis

As the name suggests this type of r deals with the history of the problem and the onset of the problem. It assesses the problem since it showed up and the client’s coping mechanisms. Assessment is also made with regard to how the problem has developed to the current situation and how it has affected the client’s wellbeing.


After assessing the problem on various parameters the caseworker now tries to provide intervention for problem solving.

First of all a treatment plan is made and goals are set which are long term as well as short term. Treatment or intervention is provided at 3 levels-

  • Direct intervention
  • Environmental modification
  • Resource mobilization

Direct Intervention

This deals with working directly with the client. The caseworker interviews the client and asks questions which helps him/her to see through the problem. Counselling is also provided for psychological support. Focus is to help the client modify his or her behaviour for better adjustment with the external environment. The process involves insight building and introspection. The client is helped to help himself by strengthening his ‘ego’. 

Environmental Modification

During this type of intervention the caseworker works with the significant others of the client. These may be family members, co-workers and other peers. If the source of the problem is among these, the case worker tries to intervene by providing counselling for attitudinal and behavioural change. If there are any physical barriers causing problems like unemployment or financial crisis, then measures are taken to remove these physical barriers. 

Resource mobilization

There are certain problems which are caused by lack of resources, like having required skills for a job, lack of information about any services etc. In such a situation the caseworker through his/her networking skills connects the client’s with the resources which may be internal (within the preview of the agency or personal capacity of the caseworker) or it may be external (outside the agency). 

Termination and follow-up

Once the caseworker feels that the client has become self reliant, he/she starts to prepare for the termination phase. If the client agrees and feels that the help sought has been provided then both parties move towards the end. The termination is not abrupt but it takes place in a phased manner. The client caseworker relationship is revisited and the client is given the opportunity to give his/her feedback on the process and to reflect on the process. The caseworker assures the client that in case of any relapse the client can come back to the agency. The termination phase usually takes place in two or three sessions.

A regular follow-up is also done by the caseworker to see if the client is adequately adapted to his environment. Follow-up sessions are also done  with significant others of the client. During follow up either the caseworker does a home visit or the client is called at the agency. Depending upon the type of case the follow-up can last from about 2 months to one year. When the caseworker is assured that there are no chances of relapse, the follow-up is stopped.


Follow up and evaluation of the case goes along with each other. During evaluation, the caseworker records the appropriateness of the tools and techniques used. How far the client was able to resolve the problem, any shortcomings on the part of the caseworker or any gaps identified in the whole process. Evaluation records  provide a very resourceful guide for other caseworkers who are new in the practice.


The phases of casework process provides a systematic problem solving experience to the client. However, these phases are overlapping and often one phase continues with the onset of another phase.

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