“The life course is the progression and path an individual takes from conception to death, and considers that the whole life of the individual presents opportunities for development, change and growth” (Crawford and Walker 2010).
Being aware of what life course one’s on and the impact of transitions within a person’s life course is important for social work practice. It is important that social workers reflect on both their own and other’s experiences throughout the life course and support this understanding within the various theoretical frameworks. It helps us to understand the common themes which have affected people through the age and helps us understand why people behave the way they do in certain situations.“Understanding of life course aims to encourage us in the flexibility of imagination which is required in order to enter into the lives of people at different ages and to see the world from their point of view” (Sudbery, 2010, p.231).
This essay will critically explore why social workers need to know about the life course. It will do so by examining the particular area of sexuality, and as a related issue, adolescent mental health, this being one of the chief risk factors in coming out. It therefore follows that because social workers deal with service users from birth to death, it is crucial to understand what life course one is on and the impact that passing from one transition to another can have on an individual (Thomson, 2008). This will enable social workers to understand what this stage means to a service user when interpreted in their own narrative and how to effectively help. In addition, social workers would respond differently when for example dealing with an adolescent as compared to a middle age adult.
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