Task-Centered Approaches in Social Work

Instructor: Reed Hepler

Reed Hepler received an M.L.I.S. from IUPUI, with emphases in Digital Curation and Archives Management. He received a Bachelor’s in History from USU, with minors in Religious Studies and Anthropology. He also earned a Certificate in Museum Studies. He has worked in museums, libraries, archives, and historical sites for the past four years.

Explain how this short-term treatment occurs where clients establish specific, measurable goals. Social workers and clients collaborate together and create specific strategies and steps to begin reaching those goals. Updated: 05/16/2022

Task-Centered Treatment

The category of social work treatments has a multiplicity of treatment types. Social work treatments and interventions can be long-term or short-term. They can treat a wide number of problems that affect social workers' clients. One type of short-term social work treatment is task-centered treatment.

Task-centered treatment is a treatment form in which social workers and clients collaborate to create a series of short-term goals that both participants work together to accomplish. Each task is independent of the others. While social workers and clients are working on their current task, they do not worry about future or previous tasks.

Task-centered treatments are more formal than they appear. Social workers do not simply create tasks for their clients to perform and send them out to work alone. The four main steps of task-centered treatment are:

  • Identify the Problem
  • Set Collaborative Goals
  • Create Objectives in the Form of Tasks
  • Evaluate

If social workers and clients attempt to fulfill tasks without first coming to a mutual understanding of the reasoning behind the task, which is to alleviate a specific problem, then their motivation will not be as strong as it should be. Additionally, if clients do not have firm goals then they will not be able to create specific, definable objectives to complete. The entire structure of the task-centered treatment form is built to be as efficient as possible.

Social Worker-Client Collaboration

Collaboration is an important aspect of any social work treatment plan. It is especially an important factor in the success of task-centered treatment. Clients must be able to trust their social worker. They must be able to rely on the fact that social workers will be working alongside them. Additionally, social workers who engage in collaboration will help clients come to their own solutions as they listen and respond to client opinions and feedback.

Goals vs. Objectives

After social workers and clients together identify the main problem of the client's life, both agents work together to create goals and objectives. Some may think that these words are interchangeable. However, they are distinct concepts. Goals are the specific time-bound outcomes of the entire program and treatment plan. They are the ultimate hoped-for result of the collaborative efforts of both participants. Objectives are smaller parts of goals. In the context of task-centered treatment, they are the tasks that social workers and clients complete.

Strategies for Accomplishing Task-Centered Goals

Task-centered treatments center on the accomplishment of relatively small tasks. These are objectives that work up to the completion of a goal. If tasks are not completed, the broader goals of the plan will not be achieved. There are multiple strategies that clients and social workers can use to achieve their tasks. These include:

  • Focus on the present and the future
  • Focus on utilizing, strengthening, and expanding client strengths
  • Create tasks that the client can feasibly accomplish within their usual environment
  • Create tasks that require the least amount of effort while generating the widest and most significant outcomes.

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