Gathering Information

Gathering Information


  • Discussion Participation Scoring Guide.
  • Interactive Case File.

The readings this week discussed the importance of gathering data as an essential first step in the helping process. In your An Introduction to Human Services text, review the case that appears on pages 152–153 and reflect on how you might engage in this first step if you were presented this case in practice, addressing the following:

  • The readings present several perspectives through which a helping professional might view a case. Provide a summary of the case through the different perspectives.
  • What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of looking at the case from only one perspective?
  • As you learned this week, the point of the data collection phase is to be able to create a clear picture of the problem(s) to be addressed in collaborative session. Understanding this, what additional information do you feel needs to be gathered to present a holistic view of this case? Explain your reasoning.A focus on the concept of power helps provide a foundation for understanding the feminist perspective. Power is implicit and explicit in human culture. According to sociologists, power and hierarchy occur when individuals become labeled as a group based upon socioeconomic factors. These economic, social, and political dimensions usually result in unequal treatment (Ferrante, 2011). The power aspects of identity are formed within the variables of the group level and the individual level (Sue & Sue, 2013). Although a part of our personal ideas about power and hierarchy stem from individual experience, power is directly related to how society views groups, not individuals. Social stratification carries from one generation to the next. For example, if a culture values the contributions of its elderly members, this honoring may continue over time; likewise, if infant girls have less value than infant boys, the practice of female infanticide may be common practice. In addition, within all cultures, there exist power differentials and dominance and oppression, but salient characteristics that inform the social stratification may vary. In Western culture, male-dominated power structures pervade while in several societies in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania more equal or female power structures exist (Goettner-Abendroth, 2012). Finally, reliance on power dimensions to define who we are, where we belong, who others are, and where they belong manifests itself in both behaviors and beliefs. What this means for us as helping professionals is our thoughts and values, as well as actions, translate into acts of power and control. Implicit in our professional responsibilities to help others lies a subtle statement about what we “have” and what they “have not.”

    To use the feminist perspective to understand clients, helpers, and the context in which the help occurs, reread the case study about Sue Ellen Draper. The following questions will help you think about Sue Ellen’s case from this viewpoint.

    · • List the instances where Sue Ellen experiences power, authority, or control.

    Save your time - order a paper!

    Get your paper written from scratch within the tight deadline. Our service is a reliable solution to all your troubles. Place an order on any task and we will take care of it. You won’t have to worry about the quality and deadlines

    Order Paper Now

    · • List the instances where Sue Ellen does not experience power, authority, or control.

    · • How could helping grant Sue Ellen power?

    · • How does helping contribute to Sue Ellen’s powerlessness?


    This chapter thus far has presented approaches to identifying problems through understanding human needs. This section examines three ways to think about the term client, using a brief client history to illustrate different perspectives about client identity.

    In many cases, the client will be an individual. In fact, most of us will think about each of our clients as one person. This means working one on one to define problems, assess possible interventions, and provide services. In the following case history, you will read one person’s account of her life. Think about her as your client. As you read, make note of the facts you learn about her and her situation. What are her problems? Using the perspectives discussed in the previous section, apply what you have learned to help you understand her situation.

    · When I was 12 years old, my mother and her boyfriend left me with my grandmother and never returned. Momma told me they would be gone for the weekend and would pick me up on Monday. That was four years ago. My grandmother tried to do right by me, but she is old and can’t get around very well. After Momma left, I was angry, hurt, and sad. How can a mother leave her child and never want to see her again? I managed to finish the school year, but my grades were down and I was absent a lot. The guidance counselor at my school talked to me about the importance of staying in school and working hard. That might be important to kids who have a family, but I was alone. School was just a place for other kids to make fun of me and call my mother names. When kids laughed at me, I wanted to die. I couldn’t take it. I started fighting back. I was suspended from school for “consistent and persistent, disruptive behavior.” It wasn’t my fault that I had to fight. I only went off when kids picked on me or laughed at me. Why am I the one getting suspended?

    Over the summer vacation, I met Victor. He was really nice to me. He was in a gang. He told me the gang would protect me from anyone who tried to mess with me. The school couldn’t make that promise. Me and Victor started off as friends, but we got closer. I had sex with Victor on my 13th birthday. He said it would be really special. It wasn’t. It hurt like hell. Not only that, but I got pregnant. Victor said not to worry, the gang family would be the baby’s family. I really didn’t want to get involved with the gang, but I felt like I didn’t have any choice now with the baby coming. Victor was right about being protected. Once I joined the gang, nobody bothered me or laughed at me anymore. I moved out of my grandmother’s house and lived with Victor. I guess Granny didn’t care because she never came after me.

    Things were good for a while. Soon after I got pregnant, Victor changed. He was distant and not around at night anymore. Even though I was Victor’s girlfriend, I had to have sex with all the guys in the gang. Having sex with all the gang bangers in one night is called “pulling a train.” They “pulled trains” on me until I got big with the baby. Victor stopped having sex with me, but he said he still loved me and wanted to be with me and the baby. I didn’t believe him. I knew he was sleeping with a lot of other girls. I wanted to go home to Granny’s but Victor went crazy when I talked about leaving. We had a huge fight. Victor covered my mouth with his hand while he held a knife to my stomach. He cut a “V” on my arm with a knife and said if I left he would do more than “scratch me on the arm” next time.

    I didn’t have to go to school because I was pregnant. The school sent a teacher to our apartment once a week to help me keep up. I told her she was wasting her time. I didn’t want to go back to school, but she came every week. She also made arrangements for me to see a doctor for prenatal care check-ups at the health department. They gave me free food vouchers there to buy cereal, cheese, and milk. Victor liked it when I came home with the food vouchers. He used them to get weed. That was OK with me cause I liked to smoke pot. I was getting high as often as I could. When I was stoned, I could forget about all the shit in my life.

    One night I was with Victor at a party. His fellas were getting too wild. They wanted Victor to be the shooter at a drive-by. He didn’t have to do it, but I could tell he was not going to back down from a challenge. Victor didn’t even say goodbye to me. I somehow knew I would never see him again. None of those guys came back. They shot up the wrong ’hood. The boys they wanted to pop found out they were planning a drive-by and were waiting for them. Victor shot up the crack house but when they tried to drive away, their car crashed into the curb. Before they could turn around, the other guys started shooting up the car. They shot Victor. I don’t know how many times. Then they pulled Victor and his crew out of the car and crushed their faces with baseball bats. The police came too late. Victor was dead. I guess I should have been more upset. It really seemed more like a dream.

    That was four years ago. I had my baby, but he was very small and sick when he was born. I named him Victor and call him Little Vic. We live in a group home for single teen mothers. I get a lot of help from the houseparents. They take good care of me and my little boy. I go to school here and want to get my GED. Little Vic has something called “developmental delays” and goes to a special school for special needs children. My life is not great but it’s getting better.

    If we think about clients as individuals, then there are several clients in this situation. The young woman who is sharing her story is a client and is, in fact, currently receiving services to help her with her education, housing, and parenting. Her son, little Victor, is also a client with special needs that may be both physical and mental. He is attending a special school. At some point, Victor, the father, may have been a client, but he is now dead. In any case, these individuals have needs and problems that they are unable to address alone. If they became our clients, we would use the concept of the whole person introduced earlier in this chapter to assess their needs and problems, think about the perspectives previously described that would help us understand their situations and consider ways to access the services that are needed.

    Another way to think about this case is to consider a broader definition of client—groups as clients. Examples of such groups may be a couple, a family, or several individuals who share a similar situation or problem. In this case history, we might think of Granny, little Victor, and his mother as a family unit that might be a client. It is also possible to think about Victor’s  gang  as a client group that needs human services. If we focus on the gang as a potential client group, then we would need to understand the gang culture, which might include the structure of gangs, the ways of identifying gang members, and why and how children and teens join gangs.

    We can also think of larger groups as clients—neighborhoods, cities or counties, problem populations, or geographic regions. In this case history, we might consider gangs as a client group that is a community or a national or societal problem. For example, the United States has seen rapid proliferation of youth gangs since 1980. Their presence is felt in communities in several ways, including their dress, language, colors, and music. Perhaps of greatest concern though is the increase in violence and crime. Assaults and batteries, drug-related crimes, auto thefts, home invasions, drive-by shootings, graffiti, and an increase in truancy and school dropouts are associated with gangs. One response to community needs is the National Youth Gang Center, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The center assists state and local jurisdictions in the collection, analysis, and exchange of information on gang-related demographics, legislation, literature, research, and promising program strategies. See  Box 5.3  for more information about gangs.


    Find out more about the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention on the Internet using “Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention” as a search term.