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Open System Theory In Social Work

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Social workers have been working closely with others professionals in the setting dominated by other disciplines (Bronstein, 2002). There are many different ways of social work collaboration across the professions based on the context they are operating in; whether in school, hospital or community organisations. It would either be a formal or informal agreement on how the service would be delivered to clients through collaborative work. Besides, collaboration would also operate between the worker and the client through the evaluation process to improve the service provision such as feedbacks and direct interviews. According to AASW (2010), social workers will cooperate and collaborate with other disciplines to promote and expand ideas, knowledge,…show more content…
The system theory is relevant to the collaborative social work practice as it focuses on the interactions between the systems and subsystems of the organisation, the functioning and outcome (Mele, Pels & Polese, 2010). The agency and professional discipline (Mental health, disability, youth, etc.) would be seen as a system. However, there are some boundaries that exist in the system – whether in an open system or a closed system. Interaction across the boundaries is one feature of the open system. The open system theory, in regards to the collaborative social work practice, explains how the social work operates in an interdisciplinary/interprofessional practice and across boundaries. The internal system of the organisation and the external environment (communities and other agencies) are constantly interacting and exchanging the information. For instance, the social worker in youth organisation might need to work in partnership with community development workers from the council, the police, the local government to design a specific program for the youth, the family and community. The social worker in the case might need to consult the plan with other parties to create a comprehensive solution to address the problem. Nevertheless, it is important for the social worker to understand and manage the boundaries between the agency and the profession to maximise the benefits of collaboration and avoid conflicts. Besides, the social exchange theory is also relevant to collaborative social work practice. The social exchange theory involves a series of interactions that generate obligations (Emerson, 1976). The reciprocity and gratification are essential to creating social relations. In regards to collaborative social work practice, the professional might establish and maintain the collaboration based on the expectation of mutual benefits across disciplines through the shared