“The life course is the progression and path an individual takes from conception to death, and considers that the whole life of the individual presents opportunities for development, change and growth” (Crawford and Walker 2010).
Being aware of what life course one’s on and the impact of transitions within a person’s life course is important for social work practice. It is important that social workers reflect on both their own and other’s experiences throughout the life course and support this understanding within the various theoretical frameworks. It helps us to understand the common themes which have affected people through the age and helps us understand why people behave the way they do in certain situations.“Understanding of life course aims to encourage us in the flexibility of imagination which is required in order to enter into the lives of people at different ages and to see the world from their point of view” (Sudbery, 2010, p.231).
This essay will critically explore why social workers need to know about the life course. It will do so by examining the particular area of sexuality, and as a related issue, adolescent mental health, this being one of the chief risk factors in coming out. It therefore follows that because social workers deal with service users from birth to death, it is crucial to understand what life course one is on and the impact that passing from one transition to another can have on an individual (Thomson, 2008). This will enable social workers to understand what this stage means to a service user when interpreted in their own narrative and how to effectively help. In addition, social workers would respond differently when for example dealing with an adolescent as compared to a middle age adult.
Life modelled practice is sensitive to mental states and sexual orientation. It is an empowerment approach that seeks to develop individual’s strengths by working to increase self -worth, self- esteem, self-sufficiency, competency, by creating a positive person and better environment (Teater, 2010). Social workers must strive “for a full understanding of the complex interactions between the client and all levels of the social and physical system as well as meaning that the client assigns to each of these interactions” (Andreae, 1996, p. 605).
In order to illustrate a key stage in the life course, I will be looking at the area of adolescence because I believe that this is one of the most critical life stages, with so many immense transitions young people go through. I have chosen to focus on adolescence because of a commitment to working with these vulnerable individuals aged from 14 to 19. We can no doubt all reflect on wrong choices we felt we made in our adolescence, and how our education and employment prospects may have benefited from good advice at this crucial juncture in life. I want to be able to guide vulnerable adolescents in the right direction and help them make the right choices, by understanding their...