The casework method practised in social work is assessed from a sociological-structural perspective. Social workers are viewed as agents of social control who wield power and authority in order to change their clients' attitudes and behaviour. It is argued that the main weaknesses of casework as a technique for personal change lie in its dyadic structure and isolation from the client's real-life environment. These characteristics impede the operation of the basic processes through which control and influence are generally accepted. It is proposed to substitute small groups of clients for the one-to-one casework setting, to link the treatment situation to real-life experiences, and to emphasize learning processes. It is believed that this restructuring of the worker-client encounter will increase the effectiveness of social work therapeutic intervention.
* This paper is based on the author's doctoral dissertation in the Faculty of Political Science, Columbia University. The study was supported by a grant from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, No. [(WA)CRD280–6–175].
† Lecturer in Sociology, School of Business Administration, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.