Module 2 case management
CASE MANAGEMENT IN SOCIAL WORK
– FOUNDATIONS FOR BEST PRACTICE IN CASE MANAGEMENT
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Standards for Social Work Case Management are
addressed to professional social workers who perform the case management function in the specifically
designated role of “case manager.”
Founded in 1955, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the
largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world,
with more than 120,000 members. NASW works to enhance the professional
growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional
standards, and to advance sound social policies.
These standards are formulated in full recognition that there is no universally accepted definition of case
management, nor is there one definitive model of case management as practiced within the social work
profession. The purpose of these standards is to clarify the nature of social work case management as
well as the role of the social work case manager
Standards for Client, System, and Case Manager
Standard 1. The social work case manager shall have a baccalaureate or graduate degree from a social
work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and shall possess the knowledge,
skills, and experience necessary to competently perform case management activities.
Standard 2. The social work case manager shall use his or her professional skills and competence to
serve the client whose interests are of primary concern.
Standard 3. The social work case manager shall ensure that clients are involved in all phases of case
management practice to the greatest extent possible.
Standard 4. The social work case manager shall ensure the client’s right to privacy and ensure
appropriate confidentiality when information about the client is released to others.
Standard 5. The social work case manager shall intervene at the client level to provide and/or coordinate
the delivery of direct services to clients and their families.
Standard 6. The social work case manager shall intervene at the service systems level to support existing
case management services and to expand the supply of and improve access to needed services.
Standard 7. The social work case manager shall be knowledgeable about resource availability, service
costs, and budgetary parameters and be fiscally responsible in carrying out all case management
functions and activities.
Standard 8. The social work case manager shall participate in evaluative and quality assurance activities
designed to monitor the appropriateness and effectiveness of both the service delivery system in which
case management operates as well as the case manager’s own case management services, and to
otherwise ensure full professional accountability.
Standard 9. The social work case manager shall carry a reasonable caseload that allows the case
manager to effectively plan, provide, and evaluate case management tasks related to client and system
Standard 10. The social work case manager shall treat colleagues with courtesy and respect and strive to
enhance interprofessional, intra-professional, and interagency cooperation on behalf of the client
Note: there ARE 6 set standards for Case Manager,3 standards pertaining to client and 3 standards
a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an
interconnecting network. ex: structure, organization, arrangement, set up etc
a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an
organized framework or method. ex: methodology, process, framework etc.
NASW Standards for Social Work Case Management
Case management encompasses well-established social work concepts and techniques. As an approach
to arranging and coordinating care, it has its origins in the earliest history of social work practice and the
social work profession. Social work case management is clearly linked to social casework, a fundamental
concept of social work practice.
Traditional social caseworkers maintained a dual focus on the client and the environment
– working directly with and indirectly on behalf of individual clients and families in need of social
– Case management remains an important professional component of competent social work
o It is based on the recognition that a trusting and empowering direct relationship
between the social worker and the client is essential to expedite the client’s use of
services along a continuum of care and to restore or maintain the client’s independent
functioning to the fullest extent possible.
This approach to service delivery has become increasingly prominent across many disciplines and
practice settings, because it is believed to be an efficient and cost-effective method for managing the
delivery of multiple labor-intensive services to targeted populations.
All aspects of social work case management rest on
1. a body of established social work knowledge,
2. technical expertise, and
3. humanistic values that allow for the provision of a specialized and unique service to
designated client groups.
The social work case manager must have the capacity to provide assistance in a sensitive and supportive
manner to particular client populations based on knowledge of human behavior and well-developed
observational and communication skills.
-Social work case management therefore is a therapeutic process in that the social work case
manager establishes helping relationships, assesses complex problems, selects problem-solving
interventions, and helps clients to function effectively.
The practice of case management varies greatly across social work settings and is even more diverse as
applied by other professionals. Despite this diversity, several elements distinguish social work case
management from other forms of case management.
Social work case management – is a method of providing services whereby a professional social worker
assesses the needs of the client and the client’s family, when
appropriate, and arranges, coordinates, monitors., evaluates, and
advocates for a package of multiple services to meet the specific client’s
– A professional social worker is the primary provider of social work case
– Distinct from other forms of case management, social work case
management addresses both the individual client’s biopsychosocial
status as well as the state of the social system in which case
– Social work case management is both micro and macro in nature:
intervention occurs at both the client and system levels.
– It requires the social worker to develop and maintain a therapeutic
relationship with the client, which may include linking the client with
systems that provide him or her with needed services, resources, and
– Services provided under the rubric of social work case management
practice may be located in a single agency or may be spread across
numerous agencies or organizations.
Tasks and Functions
Although the roles and responsibilities of individual social work case managers can vary considerably
depending on program or system objectives, social work case managers perform a range of common
tasks related to client- level intervention and system-level intervention.
Once the social work case manager has identified and engaged clients, he or she conducts a
face-to-face comprehensive assessment with each client’s strengths and limitations and the
social, financial, and institutional resources available to the client.
The social work case manager focuses particularly on how these resources relate to the
principal concerns identified during the assessment.
On the basis of this assessment, the social worker develops an individualized service plan
with the client that identifies priorities, desired outcomes, and the strategies and resources
to be used in attaining the outcomes.
The responsibilities of the social worker, the client, and others should be clarified
throughout development of the plan. Direct contact between social worker and client is
essential to effectively accomplish the assessment and service plan development
Additional social work case management tasks related to client intervention include
– implementing the service plan aimed at mobilizing the formal and informal resources
and the services needed to maximize the client’s physical, social, and emotional wellbeing
– coordinating and monitoring service delivery.
– advocates on behalf of the plan for needed client resources and services
– periodically reassesses client status, the effectiveness of interventions, and the
attainment of outcomes with revision of the service plan as indicated; and
– terminates the case.
*Case managers will be more effective in delivery systems that are designed to reduce fragmentation.
The more, structured, integrated and consolidated the delivery systems are more effective, the case
managers will be.
An organization’s structure, policies, and budget as well as the community network of services should
adequately provide for the implementation of client-centered case management. The social work case
manager is responsible for understanding how the agency and environmental systems can both
positively and negatively affect clients and to intervene at the system level to optimize these
conditions. To this end, the social work case manager engages in a range of tasks that support and
enhance the system in which case management exists. For example, the social work case manager
analyzes the strengths and limitations of environmental systems
delineates desired outcomes
selects strategies to improve systems
assesses the effectiveness of strategies
continues to revise, as indicated, desired outcomes and strategies.
Specific activities include, but are not limited to:
agency policy formation,
program evaluation, and
*Like client intervention, system intervention occurs along a continuum and comprises an ongoing,
uninterrupted cycle of tasks that are performed by the social work case manager.
The Ecological Model approach to Case Management
The ecological model arises from the work of Brofenbrenner, a Psychologist. The graphic below
exemplifies the relationships that exist among the different levels of interaction in a person’s world. First
there is a general model and then how it may be applied to a school situation
This model is actually a
developmental model of human
development. As person’s age and
experience the world, the different
concentric circles of influence begin to
have an impact on the development
of the person.
When we work with people, we often
can implement change in a person’s
well-being by implementing change in
one of the outer rings.
So, we combine theories of human
development (such as Erikson) with
this theory to help us understand
where someone is at.
Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory views child development as a complex system of
relationships affected by multiple levels of the surrounding environment, from immediate settings
of family and school to broad cultural values, laws, and customs. The theory is also commonly
referred to as the ecological/systems framework.
Bronfenbrenner is a psychologist
Transference and Countertransference
• is a defense mechanism
• At its core, transference occurs when feelings that you have for one person are unconsciously
redirected to another. It happens every day, in multiple settings, but can prove to be both
insightful and problematic in a counseling relationship.
• Just as transference is the concept of a client redirect feelings meant for others onto the
therapist, countertransference is the reaction to a client’s transference, in which the counselor
projects his or her feelings unconsciously onto the client. How countertransference is used in
therapy can make it either helpful or problematic.
A counselor may notice him or herself reacting more positively to a client that reminds them of
an old friend or colleague, or may take on a more parental tone with a client who reminds the
counselor of one of their children. A skilled therapist can recognize these feelings, and may even
bring them up in session. The therapist may be able to use his or her feelings toward the client
to understand how other people in the client’s life feel about that client as well. When used
properly, it can be a valuable tool to look into the insight of those in a client’s life, but when
unrecognized, it can pose a threat to both the therapeutic relationship and goals of therapy set
up by the client and counselor.
• Once countertransference is recognized, it is important that the therapist acknowledge and
work through those feelings. This can take on many shapes, some more problematic than
others. A counselor enamored by a client’s appearance may avoid challenging that client, due to
his or how own desire to be admired and liked by the client. A therapist who is under financial
stress, or just had an argument with their spouse, may in turn allow those emotions to carry
over into the counseling session with an unknowing client.
• It is important for the therapist to understand the role that of transference and
countertransference, and deal with those emotions in such a way that the core of the
counseling relationship is not shattered by these feelings.
Countertransference and Transference: Understanding the Phenomenon to Improve Therapy