Evaluate the strengths and limitations of crisis theory and resiliency theory as they apply to social work practice

Crisis Theory and Resilience Theory

Social workers often confront crises that are brought to them—a crisis experienced by a client, a family, a community, or an organization. The goal of crisis theory is to intervene to help restore equilibrium and to reduce long-term psychological and social distress. Given the nature of social workers meeting clients at the point of crisis, interventions are short-term with very concrete outcomes.

In times of adversity or crisis, clients, families, communities, or organizations frequently forget that they have strengths, both intrapsychic assets and environmental resources, to assist them through the crisis. Resiliency can be viewed as a trait, a process, or the outcome of intervention, which may help a client adapt to a crisis, trauma, or adverse event. Resiliency theory emphasizes the environmental, psychological, social, and individual factors that minimize the risk that stems from problems that arise.

This week, you examine two theories that can be used to complement each other—crisis theory and resiliency theory.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Apply crisis theory and resiliency theory to social work practice
  • Critique instruments to measure outcomes when evaluating effectiveness of interventions
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of crisis theory and resiliency theory as they apply to social work practice

Photo Credit: [Gearstd]/[iStock / Getty Images Plus]/Getty Images

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (6th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Chapter 7: Social Work Theory and Practice for Crisis, Disaster, and Trauma (pp. 117–130)
Chapter 29: Resiliency Theory and Social Work Practice (pp. 441–451)

Smith-Osborne, A. (2007). Life span and resiliency theory: A critical review. Advances in Social Work, 8(1), 152–168. Retrieved from https://advancesinsocialwork.iupui.edu/index.php/advancesinsocialwork/article/view/138

Smith-Osborne, A., & Whitehill Bolton K. (2013). Assessing resilience: A review of measures across the life course. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 10(2), 111–126. doi:10.1080/15433714.2011.597305

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Document: Theory Into Practice: Four Social Work Case Studies (PDF)