Best Guide to Social Work Interventions

Examples, Plans & Strategies


List of Social Work Intervention Models & Methods

When a social worker first engages with a person who is in need of help, the social worker will perform a social work assessment to help them formulate an intervention plan for the client.

Assessment and intervention in social work are core activities that guide every type of support that a social worker provides to help individuals, families, groups, and communities.

It’s important for you to have knowledge of the key examples of social work intervention strategies, as this will provide you with a robust toolkit of tactics that can be used to facilitate a client’s progress to a better place.

This could be helping them see their situation in a different light or improving their mental “space” so they don’t get in their own way towards success and recovery.

We’ll go through a list of social work intervention models in this article, answer the question, “What is intervention in social work?”, and explain the social work intervention skills social workers benefit from having.

types of social work interventions

What Is Social Work Intervention?

Social workers help people in multiple ways. They refer hospital patients to outpatient services and financial aid, help ensure abused children have a safe place to live, work with people to get them through emotional issues, and much more.

An intervention plan example social work strategy will usually consist of a particular approach to assist the client in overcoming their problem. There are many different types of social work intervention models that can be used, and social workers will match them to the issue the client is facing and the client’s personality and responsiveness.


Table of Contents

  1. What Is Intervention in Social Work?
  2. What Are Three Levels of Social Work Intervention Methods Used by Social Workers?
  3. Social Work Intervention Examples
  4. Easy-to-Use Social Work Intervention Plan Template
  5. Detailed List of Social Work Interventions
  6. Main Types of Social Work Interventions
  7. Social Work Intervention Theories & Skills
  8. A Popular Intervention Tool in Social Work Assessment
  9. Conclusion | What Is Social Work Intervention?
  10. Additional  FAQs – Assessment and Intervention in Social Work

Social Work Tools & Templates for Social Workers!

 Best Social Worker Toolkits

Best Social Worker Toolkits - Mobile and iPad

Best Social Work Assessment Toolkit


What Is Intervention in Social Work?

Social work intervention is the engagement a social worker has with an individual, family, group, or community that they are helping. An intervention plan in social work will be formulated based on the client assessment to help ensure the best chance of success.

If we look at the definition of intervention in Oxford Languages, it states that intervention is “the action or process of intervening.”

Using intervention strategies in social work, social workers will intervene in a client’s life to help them solve a problem, get out of a negative situation, and develop support systems to keep it from reoccurring.

Social Work Assessments & Case Management Tool

Social Work Case Management & Assessment Tool!

Read More


What Are Three Levels of Social Work Intervention Methods Used by Social Workers?

Social work intervention methods will typically take place on three levels. These levels all aim to achieve the same goal, which is the help the client achieve better outcomes and overcome issues for a better quality of life.

Each of the three levels in this social work interventions list simply has a different scope of who is being helped and how close the social worker is to those they are assisting.

Social Work Interventions Examples | 3 Levels of Intervention

Micro

The micro-level of a social work assessment and intervention will on the individual level. This is where many of those in social work are assisting clients.

The micro-level includes a social work intervention plan example for an individual, family, or small group. This could be an intervention where a geriatric social worker is helping a family transition an older parent to an assisted living facility or where a school social worker is working one-on-one with a child that has emotional issues.

Mezzo

The mezzo level of assessment and intervention in social work is one step up from micro. Here, the social worker is helping small communities or groups of institutions (such as an entire school system) with issues that are impacting their populations.

A social work intervention plan at the mezzo level could include being called in to help an underprivileged community improve their living conditions through the establishment of a free health clinic.

Macro

The macro-level of social work assessment and intervention is on a much larger scale than both micro and mezzo. Social workers are typically not directly involved with those that are being assisted.

Macro-level social work will involve looking at large systematic issues that might be causing persistent problems on a city, state, or national level. These types of social workers will be researching these problems and developing solutions that may take years to implement.


Do you have any questions or feedback on social work interventions examples at each different scale described above? If so, click here to contact us.


Social Work Intervention Examples

For the purpose of this article about social work intervention examples, we are going to be describing interventions at the micro-level, which are between a social worker and an individual, family, or small group.

There are many different types of social workers (school, elderly, social services, hospital, home health, family and child, substance abuse, etc.), so we’ll go through just a few examples of social work interventions below but know there are many more.

Social Work Intervention Plan Example:

  • Substance Abuse: For someone coming in for help with a substance abuse issue, a social worker may include both medical and mental health support for their intervention plan in social work. They may also try to encourage the person to put more energy into their positive relationships and discourage negative ones.
  • Geriatric Care: For an elderly client that can no longer take care of themselves, the social worker may include the family in the social work intervention plan and include emotional support and building community connections in an assisted living facility to help everyone through the transition.
  • Long-term Medical Issue: For a patient that has a long-term medical issue, the social worker may include on their list of social work interventions outpatient referral to a therapist, introduction to a community support group, and a referral to financial aid resources to help with medical bills.
  • Child Neglect: In the case of a young child being left home alone, a social worker may use an intervention plan social work example designed to give the parents support through free childcare resources and parenting classes.

Looking for an Easy-to-Use Social Work Intervention Plan Template? Try the AGS Social Work Toolkit

social work needs assessment template

Plan your intervention strategies in social work using a customizable template with automated reporting, checklists, best practices, and more.

Learn More About AGS 360° Social Work Assessment Toolkit


Detailed List of Social Work Interventions | Types of Social Work Interventions

Now we’ll take a look at some of the popular social work intervention strategies social workers use to help their clients. These are designed to facilitate engagement and help a client see their situation differently so they can take part in the resolution process.

Once a social worker has done a client assessment and created an intervention plan example social work strategy, they’ll take advantage of these intervention tactics to achieve the goals they’ve laid out.

We’ve included a list of 11 examples of social work interventions strategies below.

Miracle Questions

Miracle questions are a popular tactic on a social work interventions list. This type of question is designed to help the client imagine a better life after their situation is solved. It’s very useful for goal setting and to move a client forward past the problem.

A miracle question would be, “If a miracle happened tonight, and your problem was gone tomorrow when you woke up, what would your world look like?”

Problem-Free Talk

Problem-free talk will typically be an intervention plan social work example used at the beginning of a client engagement, but it can also be used anytime.

This is one of the intervention tools in social work that helps the client see that their life isn’t only the problem, that there are good things in their life as well. In this intervention strategy, the social worker encourages the client to discuss positive aspects of their life.

Vision Statement

A vision statement is similar to miracle questions in that it’s included in a social work intervention plan template to help the client see a better future.

A tactic used with the vision statement is to ask the client to discuss how they would like the situation to look in 1 year, 5 years, etc. whatever period makes sense for the problem. This provides a vision and a goal to move towards.

Life-Story Book

The life-story book is one of the social work intervention examples used with younger clients. For example, it’s often used with children in a difficult family situation, that have been victims of abuse, or may be in the Foster Care system.

In this social work intervention plan example, the social worker helps the child create a storybook of their life to help the child understand what is happening to them.

Circular Questioning

One of the types of social work interventions used in family therapy and counseling is circular questioning. This tactic helps everyone in the family see a situation from a different perspective and aids in moving forward together through a problem.

In this social work intervention plan tactic, the social worker will ask a question and go around the group to have everyone answer it. It could be something, like “Who has the shortest temper in the family?” or “Who can you most depend on?”

Later Life Letter

One of the social work interventions examples that are used only in special situations is the later life letter. This would be a letter written by someone to a child that is too young to understand a particular situation impacting their life explaining the situation. The letter is meant to be opened when they are older, such as when they become an adult.

This intervention plan in social work may be used in the case of a teenage mother that is giving a child up for adoption that wants them to know the circumstances and that it wasn’t any fault of the child.

Letter of Love

The letter of love is one of the social work intervention strategies designed to boost a person’s self-esteem and remind them of their best qualities. This can be an important strategy to use when someone is trying to overcome a mental or emotional issue such as addiction or self-harm.

The letter of love can be written by the person themselves with guidance from the social worker or by a trusted friend or family member. The letter is to be read whenever the person is getting down on themselves.

Exception Seeking

Exception seeking is one of the intervention strategies in social work that helps a social worker identify supports and opportunities that the client has in their life for overcoming a problem.

The social worker might ask how a client coped with this problem in the past or about any resources they may have leveraged to overcome the issue before. Exception seeking is about seeking exceptions to the problem always existing in a client’s life.

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is included on the list of social work intervention models for many types of social work. The social worker will guide a client’s conversation toward the positive and potential solutions out of a problem situation.

An intervention plan example social work practitioners may use for a client with alcohol addiction is to ask them what they enjoyed doing before they began drinking and explore those interests and how they made the person feel.

Self-Soothing Object

One of the social work intervention methods used for patients with anxiety or that are at risk of self-harm is to identify a soothing object that brings them happiness and puts their mind in a better space.

This could be a favorite stuffed animal, a letter of love (as described above), a particular scent, or a favorite song. The goal of this social work intervention strategy is to help the person self-soothe by mindfully using their soothing object when they begin to experience negative thoughts and emotions.

Mindfulness & Meditation

People in a negative situation will often let their minds ruminate on the problem, which causes more stress and gets in the way of positive steps to overcome it.

Mindfulness and meditation provide a way to force those negative thoughts to quiet, and instead, put a person in a more positive space where they can begin to see their opportunities to control the problem and overcome it.


Social Work Intervention Theories & Skills

There are many theories you’ll run across when looking up “What is social work intervention?” Social work intervention theories are “nuggets of wisdom” in social work practice that are backed up by clinical research and years of experience.

Knowing social work intervention theories can guide a social worker as to which to choose from a list of social work interventions.

Here is a list of social work intervention theories:

  • Anti-Oppressive Practice Social Work Theory
  • Conflict Theory
  • Ecological Systems Theory
  • Empowerment Theory
  • Family Life Cycle Theory
  • Functionalist Theory
  • Person in the Environment (PIE) Theory
  • Psychodynamic Theory
  • Psychosocial Development Theory
  • Rational Choice Theory
  • Social Learning Theory
  • Systems Theory
  • Transpersonal Theory

If you’d like to read more about each of these social work intervention examples, check out our article, Best Social Work Theory & Practices You Need to Be Aware of.”

Social Work Intervention Skills

It takes certain skills to successfully engage with all types of social work clients and guide them through an assessment and intervention in social work. Many of these skills may come naturally to some social workers, and others will develop and hone them as they engage with more clients throughout their careers.

Here are some of the important social work intervention skills that help social workers with successful client engagements:

  • Active listening
  • Empathy
  • Organization
  • Critical thinking
  • Excellent verbal & written communication
  • Understanding of human psychology
  • Facilitator skills
  • Understanding of intervention types & theories
  • Patience
  • Professionalism

A Popular Intervention Tool in Social Work Assessment

Have you been looking for intervention tools in social work so you can spend less time on administrative tasks and more time engaging with your clients?

The AGS Social Work Assessment & Planning Toolkit provides you with multiple tools to plan and carry out your social work intervention strategies. It also puts all those tools in one cloud-based place, allowing you to access your social work intervention plan template from anywhere.

Some of the features of our social worker toolbox include:

  • Several templates to use for social work assessment and intervention
  • Automated & insightful reporting that updates as you enter client data
  • Sample data with examples of social work interventions
  • Social worker checklist to guide all types of social work interventions
  • Cloud-based genogram/ecomap assessment & other assessment templates
  • Responsive customer support to guide you

Social Work Toolkit Sample Data

Customizable assessment template with a social work interventions list

social work intervention reporting

Reports that help you optimize your social work intervention methods

Learn More About AGS 360° Social Work Assessment Toolkit


Conclusion | What Is Social Work Intervention?

Social work intervention involves knowing many different intervention strategies and applying social work intervention skills and theories to get the best outcomes.

We hope these social work intervention examples were of help to you as you further your understanding of social workers and what they do.


Additional FAQs – Assessment and Intervention in Social Work

What is intervention in social work?

Social work intervention is the engagement a social worker has with an individual, family, group, or community that they are helping. An intervention plan in social work will be formulated based on the client assessment to help ensure the best chance of success.

What are the three levels of social work intervention methods?

Social work intervention methods will typically take place on three levels. Each of the levels simply has a different scope of who is being helped and how close the social worker is to those they are assisting.

Social Work - 3 Levels of Intervention

• Micro (individual, family, small group)
• Mezzo (local community or institution)
• Macro (city, state, country level)

What are the different types of social work interventions?

Following are 11 examples of social work interventions:

• Miracle Questions
• Problem-Free Talk
• Vision Statement
• Life-Story Book
• Circular Questioning
• Later Life Letter
• Letter of Love
• Exception Seeking
• Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)
• Self-Soothing Object
• Mindfulness & Meditation

What social work intervention skills do social workers need?

Here are some of the important social work intervention skills that help social workers with successful client engagements:

• Active listening
• Empathy
• Organization
• Critical thinking
• Excellent verbal & written communication
• Understanding of human psychology
• Facilitator skills
• Understanding of intervention types & theories
• Patience
• Professionalism


Note: Content on OCM Solution (Formerly Airiodion Global Services (AGS))'s ocmsolution.com website is copyrighted. If you have questions, comments, or tips about this OCM Solution (Formerly Airiodion Global Services) content or product, please contact OCM Solution today.

Image sources:

  • Stock.adobe.com