What Social Work could learn from Pyrex

15 Oct

I know the title is a bit weird, but you know I will take you on that journey. Pyrex is a hard heat-resistant type of glass. I have a rectangular Pyrex pan that I use to make my macaroni and cheese. The pan itself reminded me of one of the major skills social workers need, transparency.

Transparency is a working principle implying openness, communication and accountability. I find it a good analogy for social work, or what social work practice should be. My pan is completely clear so when my mac and cheese is baking (working) it is easy for me to see what is happening within the pan (social service structure) from every angle. I can’t see the substance within the mac and cheese, but I can see that things are happening, that change is happening. When we work with our clients, because we don’t live with them, they cannot readily see what we do to help them. But, if we are transparent from the outset (and I will explain what this transparency look like in practice) then we set a foundation for the relationship where there are no surprises. They know what to expect and give them a degree of certainty. It is a matter of respect, facilitating their self-determination and decision-making as well as creating and honest working relationship.

Comparing social work to Pyrex is just my way of saying we need to be working in a way that we are happy for anyone to scrutinize because we are being open and honest and are communicating our process of helping to clients and superiors as best practice.

In social work true transparency means that, as a practitioner you are having discussions with your clients where you are

– clear about what your role is and how you will execute it

– clear about what you’re required to do and at what points

– clear about the steps you need the family to make

– telling your clients the consequences of noncompliance, honestly (discussing all their options)

– clear about the outcomes you need to see to shut your service

– understanding they don’t want you there and acknowledge it

– working with them, not doing things to them or for them, clearly outline everyone’s responsibilities.

– [in assessment] clear about the information you need, why and how it will be used (reassuring them that they will be given copies and are able to comment

– [in planning as a matter of respect and collaborative working] clear about what needs to be done, who is doing it and agreeing to help the clients with issues they consider important as well and scheduling a review

– [in review] acknowledging what they have done well to date and what still needs to be done

That’s my list. I am sure there are other things you can think of that show transparency in the working relationship. Please feel free to share. Let’s keep good practice flowing.


1 Comment

Posted by on October 15, 2014 in Social Work Practice


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One response to “What Social Work could learn from Pyrex

  1. Adrianna

    October 16, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Excellent and now I’m Hungry too. My soc. Wkr friend pointed to a huge file stack on desk and told client if you’re not willing you’ll go from here (top) to here The bottom. I never forgot that she was honest and available.



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