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Performing attacks on the virtual machines within the dedicated University laboratory is permitted, but it is very important to note that attacking the rest of the university network is NOT allowed. A full monitoring process will be in place and offenders could be prosecuted. Ask your module tutor to clarify any doubts shall you have further inquiries. Overall, make sure you comply with UK-legislation and all associated professional and ethical behaviour.

The purpose of this assignment is NOT to teach you how to break computer system but rather to understand how the countermeasures are applied to protect your potentially vulnerable infrastructure.

Introduction to Social Work and Theories

Social work is a diverse profession, and the competencies and knowledge of a professional are established based on the dynamic relationship between social problems, institutional construction and disciplines of interpersonal relationships. Theoretical perspectives from philosophy, sociology and psychology have been included in the discipline of social work that aims to address the diverse social needs of an individual. Theories of social work are a representation of ideas and concepts that guide us to act appropriately in different situations. Using these theories one can infer or deduce connections between different situations and formulate an action plan that is person-centred. Some significant theories of social work include Systems Theory, Social Learning Theory, Transpersonal Theory and Psychodynamic Theory (Cournoyer 2016).  According to a large pool of scholars, sytems theory includes the narrow field of social systems and acts as a cross-disicplinary body of thoughts based on scientific rationale. The perspective of the social systems is embedded in a philosophical viewpoint that considers the existant relationship between an individual and the surrounding social environment. The systems perspective provides the most desirable and suitable theoretical basis for studying human communication in an effective manner (Payne 2015).

The present essay is based on the provided case study that aims to apply the noteworthy Systems Theory for discussing the course of social work pertinent to the case. Systems Theory is the selected theoretical framework whose application would be evident in this case study analysis for guiding the assessment and intervention process for the case. The paper would critically analyse the core elements of the theory to reflect on how these are aligned to the service user, how the assessment process can be carried out and how the social worker can seek to intervene for bringing about change. Critical analysis of the theory would be done by understanding its relevance and usefulness as well as drawbacks through perspectives drawn from literature. Such an analysis would draw critical perspectives from other theoretical frameworks as well.

The case study to which the systems theory is to be applied as a mode of intervention is on an elderly couple Leo and Rachel who are in their 60s. The couple has been together for 40 years and migrated to the UK from Venezuela almost four decades back. Rachel had been working as a nurse while Leo was an engineer at initial stages of his career and worked as a teacher thereafter. Leo was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease around half a decade back. Due to this condition, Leo suffered from poor mobility, and body functioning that compelled him to sit is a similar position for a considerable time and lie down. In addition, he faced challenges in eating and required help with his food. He had a slow form of speech though he was able to communicate.

Systems Theory as a Theoretical Framework for Social Work

Leo’s condition had a negative impact on the relationship and bonding that the couple shared. There were reports of serious arguments between the couple made by the home care workers frequently. There was also reports of absence of food in the house. Due to the restricted mobility, Leo became irritable and angry. Further, he had difficulty in remembering things. Rachel, on the other hand, was found to be withdrawn from the social bonding and was found to be shouting at her husband. Rachel’s daughter Daniela used to pay regular visits to Rachel until some months ago. She had attempted to convince Rachel to seek support to provide adequate care to Leo such as getting help from the local Age Concern. She also recommended a carers group that Rachel could join. To much disappointment, the conversations turned into arguments, and no additional help could be evident. A week ago Rachel did not permit the Home Care workers inside their home. After a discussion within the home care team, a referral was made to the adult services for social work input.

The above-illustrated case study has highlighted the need for implementation of systems theory as the posit approach for social work and course of interventions to be delivered to  Leo and Rachel. For delivering the adequate social care and support to Leo and Rachel, a social care worker might encounter a number of challenges in his line of work. However, systems theory can help the social worker to deal with these challenges and come up with positive solutions. The contribution of systems theory in the field of social work is praiseworthy. The theory has given valuable insights into how service users can be given optimal quality vare through multifaceted assessments and interventions. Systems theory as applied to social work describes human behaviour in temrs of complex systems. The theory is based on the idea that a proper system is set on the basis of a individual rewards, needs, attributes and expectations of the people living in the system. As per this theory, couples families and organisation members have a diret involvement in resolving a concern if the issue is an individual one (DuBois and Miley 2013). According to Hepworth et al. (2016), there are six essential features that are recognised within systems theory. The first element is holistic approach given to the service users. The second element is regarding how systems are defined and build up. The next element is about the significance of boundaries in the division of systems. The consecutive element revolves around processes or social change and equilibrium. The fifth element considers circular causality is thinking while the sixth element is about the identification of goals for achieving betterment. The life system approach outlined by Germain and Gitterman present a provocative yet challenging integrated model of social work by helping individuals deal with three types of stress generated by maladaptive patterns of interpersonal relationships, environmental processes and life transitions. According to the philosophers, an assessment is to be carried out of the felt needs and problems as described by the client for providing social care. The role of the social worker in such a case is defined in response to the client’s need. Assessment, as per the theory is to be divided into phases where each phase entailes the care worker to take up different roles for life transitions in relation to interpersonal living; mediator, advocate, teacher and facilitator (DuBois and Miley 2013). The life system model of systems approach is to be applied in the present case for Leo and Rachel for delivering appropriate social care.

Case Study Overview: Leo and Rachel

As opined by Healy (2014) systems theory offers a manner of thinking in an integrated and organised manner about reciprocal interactions among the members of the system. Troubled families are among social systems with which social workers are involved. A family is to be perceived as a social system encompassing individuals who have a relation with each other by reasons of strong reciprocal loyalties and affection, making a permanent household persisting over time. Applying systems theory, the social worker in the present case must assume that the family environment of Leo and Rachel is a system where the unique communication pattern between the two is to be examined at the primary level. The purpose of the assessment prior to intervention would be to work with both Leo and Rachel to determine the reasons behind the dysfucntioning of the family. Understanding the root causes of the dysfucntioning would be crucial. The social worker must observe behaviours of both the partners and their mutual functions for understanding the contribution each has into the relationship. The social worker must determine how well the family system fits with the environment. The additional resources that can be accessed for improving the family system-environment fit is to be reviewed. The communication patterns of the family is to be examined as the intervention is to be guided accordingly. Leo and Rachel can be asked about what rules they follow while commucniating. Lastly, the members of the  family are also to be encouraged to open up and inform the dysfucntioanl triangulation in communication (Coady and Lehmann 2016).

Intervention for Leo and Rachel would also need to rest upon the degree to which the family responds to stress. Determining how responsive the family is to major life stessors is crucial, as articulated in the sytems theory. The social worker is to work with the family members to identify elements in their communication and structure pattern that lead to a steady state, energy or entropy. Energy is the form of resource that keeps the family going. Following such information different means are to be explored that help in reducing stress and enable the individuals to move to a new level of adaptation.

With the help of the ASPIRE (Actualizing Social and Personal Identity Resources) model, is a four-phase model that can be applied for assessing the needs of the client that is to be addressed prior to outlining the care plan. A rich pool of literature points out the contribution of self-categorisation and social identity processes to social balance. This is significant since collective behaviour, such as communication, trust and respect all influence the welllbeing of the individual. With the help of this particular tool assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation can be linked in a manner that highlights the needs of the client so that life opportunities can be improved (Haslam et al. 2014). Assessment is to be understood as a continual process, and since changes are inevitable within the social setting, the care worker must understand that it is central to make a difference in the lives of Leo and Rachel. Judgements about the relationship between Leo and Rachel is to be made without being excessive judgemental. If the assessment is proper and changed as per the changes in the relationship between Leo and Rachel, then only interventions would be effective.

Systems Theory Analysis for Interventions

Prior to initiating any intervention, it would be suitable to gather maximum information about the family background of the couple. For reassuring that the information gained is accurate, an informal discussion is to be held with Leo, Rachel and Daniela. While asking questions in an informal manner, factual evidences are to be collected for the intervention. This would help in building a clear and broader picture and examine all factors that are necessary for prioritising interventions. Consequently, through looking at the wider pictures, it would be easier to work with the family and resolve the issues from time to time (Turnbull et al. 2015).  In the present case, it is evident that Leo and Rachel have not been able to cope up with the changes in their social environment, largely due to the health complications faced by Leo. Leo and Rachel are to be supported to adapt to the changes brought about in their life due to Huntington disease (Ross et al., 2014). The approach needs to be based on principles of one-to-one support, advocacy, family support, counselling, adapting skills, negotiation and interventions for enabling the family to adjust adequately. This would be beneficial for supporting the emotional wellbeing of both Leo and Rachel, allowing them to move forward in their life. The key objectives for the present case study would be conflict resolution, addressing undesirable behaviour, supporting Rachel with the challenges she faces in a relationship with his husband, fostering the self-esteem of Leo and boundary setting. Going by the systems theory, the social worker, while caring for Leo and Rachel must understand human behaviour and its nature as demonstrated by the couple. As highlighted by Luhmann (2017) human behaviour is to be understood as the influence of different systems that have a significant relationship with each other.

Since the first contact with the client is a delicate issue, the systems theory entails that the worker demonstrates his interpersonal skills for establishing effective engagement. Communication is to act as the key feature of interaction (Barth 2017). As per the researchers, empathy, integrity and positive regards are to be placed at the core of the communication. This is to be done through active listening, respecting the client and being honest and open regarding how situations can be changed for the better. It is also required that the worker executes an antidiscriminatory and antioppressive practice. On the basis of the family dynamics, decisions are to be made that are in favour of the person requiring most of the care (Riis 2013). It can be stated that Rachel is to be made the focus of counselling and her wellbeing is to be perceived as the first priority. Since she has a greater duty of care towards her husband, she needs to feel secure, and her confidence is to be built. If Rachel feels emotional security and has an enhanced confidence, she would surely flourish and cope up with the challenges her family is facing. It is evident that personal, economic and social factors are making an impact on the family and Rachel is to be helped out to overcome these obstacles. Application of systems theory would make it easier to intervene. Rachel suffers socially, emotionally and intellectually. She suffers from feelings of isolation and depression. Providing supplementary support would assist her in achieving stable and permanent social relationships (Kim-Appel and Appel 2015).

Tools for Effective Assessment and Intervention

The second stage of systems theory is the main phase that enables a social worker to address the needs of the individuals. Abiding by this theory, the worker must enhance the communication skills and gain the trust of the client. This would make sure that the family cooperates in course of intervention. The role of the worker as a professional would be to act in a justified manner and give equal importance to Leo and Rachel. A plan is to be set out that arranges the interventions in order of their priority. The first step would be to counsel Leo about his social exclusion and the behaviour Rachel is showing towards Leo. Advocating for  Leo and acting as his confidant would enable him to feel less excluded. He would be able to speak freely about his anxieties that he is not able to do under normal circumstances. His feelings of low moods and inadequacy are to be addressed be engaging him in different activities (Mandak et al. 2017). Weekly visits would encompass discussions about any betterment in the situation. The aim for this would be fostering integration within the family and building relationships within the couple so that they can live in a peaceful manner in the future. Systems theory entails that interaction patterns between couples that are evidently dysfunctional are to be blocked (Cross and Barnes 2014).

As argued by Miley, O'Melia and DuBois (2016) systems theory proposes that a client condition is to be perceived as a ‘whole’ and not as parts of human behaviour. For managing Leo’s behaviour, some information is to be gathered about social and mental impact Huntington’s disease has on a patient. Though the mission might not be to preach or patronise, the initiative would definitely be to offer tool and aids to Leo using which he can set goals for himself. He is to be assured that he is resilient and have the capability to thrive in a positive manner. It might so happen that Leo would behave in a different manner when Rachel is around. One of the benefits of systems theory is that is a strong emphasis on the capacity of the individuals to influence the social situations. For enhancing the relationship between Leo and Rachel, attachment theory can be applied as a complementary approach to systems theory. Attachment is the affectional bond that develops between two adults (Maxwell et al. 2013). In the present case, Rachel had a negative attitude towards Leo and ignored to his need for help. This prevented further communication between the two. Rachel was oppressing Leo with the negativity in an indirect manner and more importantly, unknowingly.


The social care worker must encourage building up a healthy relationship between the couple and advice them to behave in a more positive manner towards each other. For improving the behaviour of Rachel, a reward chart might be useful that considers the token economy. It would work as action system would be consistent. The system would act towards improving the wellbeing of Rachel and boost the level of self-esteem. She would readily identify the challenges and would be empowered to acknowledge that a change is required in her behaviour (Sutphin, McDonough and Schrenkel 2013). Leo is in need of approval and love that forms the basic needs for acceptance. Since communication had broken down between the two, rebuilding the love was essential. For supporting this cause, emotion cards can be used that permit communication of feelings, thoughts and mutual understanding. It would allow the couple to spend a considerable amount of time with each other and create an affectional bond. The experience would benefit the couple by providing security and permitting enhancement in confidence (Healy 2014).

The next approach, as outlined in the system theory would be to counsel Rachel and Daniele together. This would act as a person-centred approach and enable an honest relationship between the two. It is to be mentioned that the relationship shared by the mother-daughter duo is imperative for achieving overall success. Rachel can be guided and motivated by Daniale who would act as a friend and confidant. Rachel is to be asked to keep her daughter informed about the progress happening and to provide feedback to her as well. Rachel must involve her daughter actively in the overall process of recovery. Her daughter can counteract the negative thoughts Rachel has been developing, and this potential is to be explained to her so that she follows the same. The approach would allow Rachel to come up with conditions of trust that possess potential to overcome constraints she faces and view the situation from her perspective (Turner 2017). The social worker must encourage both the mother and the daughter to have realistic expectations from each other. This would help both of them to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts in relation to fulfilment of expectations. Encouragement is to be given on a constant basis so that Rachel and Daniale engages in effective communication more often. Further, they are to be explained that being an active listener helps in reflecting back on other person’s viewpoint and perception instead of having an assumption. Rachel must be an active listener to understand what her daughter tries  to explain to her instead of arguing with her and making certain assumptions. Lastly, both Rachel and Daniale are to be motivated to learn to forgive each other’s faults and embrace the social environment they have been living in with each other’s support (Katsikitis et al. 2014).

Johnson and Ray (2016) pinpointed that multicultural systems embedding ethnicity and culture are elementary influences on the structure of families and interactional styles. Systems theory pinpoints the need for acknowledging the ethnicity of the client and the culture they uphold. The cultural background of Leo and Rachel are to be understood as they belonged to Venezuela and migrated to UK. Their culture is to be appreciated, and the social worker must understand the subtleties of own cultural makeup and that of the family to support the multicultural practice. Assumptions are not be made about the family, and improper generalisations and crude stereotypes are to be avoided. This is important since such stereotypes and generalisations would lead to inappropriate interpretations of cultures. The idea of family uniqueness stars from dissimilarities in thoughts. Cultural sensitivity is to be learnt and generalisations are to be eliminated for brevity. The requirement for reflective assessment and careful intervention planning have no substitute.

The final stage of systems theory is the ending that has a crucial role in giving rise to the desirable outcomes. The family is to be explained that the intervention was short termed, and dependency is to be avoided under all circumstances. Systems theory is a temporary solution to issues and this to be explained properly to the client. Abrupt endings are not tolerable in systems theory approach, and thus such situations are not to be created in which the client has no role in decision making process. The process of application of intervention is not a continual one, and this is to be explained to Leo and Rachel. It is to be expected that with the interventions in place each member of the family would be allowed to promote change at the micro level (Healy 2014).

As highlighted by Gladding (2014) systems theory has certain limitations that raise the question on the effectiveness of the interventions provided based on this theory. As per the authors, the theory is vey general, and there are no transparent guidelines provided that can be abided by for applying it appropriately. The social care worker might find it difficult to understand what is to be expected as the outcome and how each component of the human system would react to the interventions. Criticising the systems theory, Robbins, Chatterjee and Canda (2011) stated that social care workers might have limited control over the course of interventions provided. Further, there is an abscence of rich evidence that put forward the explanation for situations and incidences occurring with the social settings. Turner (2017) further pinpoint that among systems theory and psychosocial theory, the one that is better is psychosocial theory. The authors have to say that families can be difficult to understand since they change all the time. Thus, systems theory is not suitable for all client. In this context psychosocial theory is better as complex aspects can be more prominently addressed. Interconnections between members of the family can be addressed ideally with psychosocial theory and not systems theory. It is also easier to unravel and disentangle relationships that have become complex with psychosocial theory. Further, though systems theory might allow workers to observe the family in the context of natural settings, it is hard to explain the dynamics of interaction between family members on a daily manner.

According to DuBois and Miley (2013) systems theory must be popular in social work. However, a few considerations are there regarding the limitations it presents. Litertaure shows that systems theory primarily has the focus on existing systems as well as an institutional order that are developed and sustained by communication between the client and the worker. This perspective, therefore, relies solely on the consideration of individuals and not self-realising and autonomous individuals. The theory is known to describe the social order as being an adaptation process that can include and relief one from the daily life’s challenges. The answer to the question that whether systems theory is a constructive perspective for social work is bot no and yes. The positive answer rests on the fact that a number of systems within the context of welfare sector that is structured by codes. The negative answer rests on the fact that a section of the client population might be excluded from the systems due to multifactorial reasons, such as socialisations, homelessness or problems with identity. In addition, the systems theory does not comprise any moral or ethical considerations. Acceptance processes such as rightfulness, truth and authenticity give respect to the client’s dignity and protect solidarity. The systems theory does not consider such processes and underpins an insensitivity to the democracy of the individual.

Coming to the end of the discussion, it is to be stated that the paper has been a valuable one in illustrating the system’s theory of social work as applied to a client case study. Social work refers to the discipline of care delivery revolving around communities and families. The underlying aim is the enhancement of social functioning together with the overall wellbeing. Systems theory has been indicated to be emphasising on the functional aspects of social work, such as goals and roles, and the paths of how they are to be implemented in practice. It comprises different directions and perspectives that influence social work as a whole. Attention is called around clients, and the theory also holds up a representation of the manner in which social order is processed. The theory can be more called as a pragmatic one, as reflected by its different processes that rest on social functioning. In the present case systems theory can be considered as the primary mode of social work for addressing the needs of Leo and Rachel. The challenges and key issues identified from the case study draws the attention of this theory as the main objective is to enable the couple to perform their social roles. In addition, the aim was also to foster structural institutions. Through the translation of principles of systems theory into practice, social cohesion, social change and empowerment can be promoted in the lives of the client. Systems theory, however, is not beyond controversies and criticisms. Several questions have been raised regarding whether social workers can liberate themselves from reliance on governance. Certain challenges also exist since there is no strict guideline for applying the interventions as per the theory. Nevertheless, systems theory possesses much potential to enable positive client outcomes when implemented under suitable circumstances.


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