Discussion Questions

Prepare for class discussions by answering the discussion questions.

1. Do you think there are certain classes that should be mandatory as part of a social work degree that aren’t mentioned in your book? For example, it’s possible at many schools to get an MSW without ever having to take a class in addictions, or a class in human sexuality--two areas that come up in many social work fields. Do you think those classes--or any others not noted--should be mandatory?

2. Think of a major change that could take place in a client’s life (e.g., losing a job, the end of a relationship, stopping one’s drug use). Look at the ecological map in your book and imagine someone whose life experienced one of these changes. What other areas on their own ecological map would be impacted by that major change? Selecting one of those changes, think how it might have negative impacts for some and positive impacts for others, depending on circumstances and their own specific ecological maps.

3. Your book mentions the idea of “fictive kin.” Do any of you have fictive kin? On a related note, social workers tend to frown on the use of the term “real family” or “real parents,” preferring terms like “biological family” or “birth parents.” Why do you think that is?

4. Empowerment is key to working with our clients. Somewhat ironically, as social workers, we also recognize that people often find themselves in very difficult situations due to factors that are completely out of their control. How can we both show empathy for clients who are in situations they couldn’t have prevented and empower them to feel like they have significant control over their own lives?