In 2016, the Director of Social Services in Beer Sheva asked MJB for assistance in identifying and documenting stories of success in the practice of social workers.
A year later, the Institute began a structured, systematic process of identifying, investigating and documenting the stories, using the “retrospective method of Learning from Success,” a method that facilitates organization’s ability to learn from past successes.
After choosing nine stories of success, specially trained social-work students from Ben Gurion University (which is a partner in this project) interviewed the social workers at the service and the clients whose stories were chosen. The stories included working with a family in crisis following the elderly mother’s accelerated process of dementia; with a daughter whose father is an obsessive hoarder; and with a mother of six, struggling with difficulties with her parental functioning, employment status, and financial status.
In each of these stories, principles of action were formulated that had contributed to success. Some of the common principles of action that emerged from all or most of the stories were: faith in a client’s ability to conduct their own, and their family’s, rehabilitation process; the importance of integrating individual and group therapeutic measures and support; a social worker’s availability to support a client in times of crisis, which requires the backing of the social-service department; home visits to gain direct impressions; and comprehensive work to help clients fully exercise their rights.
In 2017, MJB published these stories in a book, Hand in Hand. The book provides insights into practices that earned success and led to significant change in the lives of the clients and their families.
The project is continuing in 2018, with additional studies of success stories. There is also a professional development seminar planned to the local social service staff in Beer Sheva.