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Mae Angeline R.

MSSW 2013-2651

During the Reform Era in the beginning of the 1900’s, through the Charity
Organization Society, social workers practiced in settlement houses. Professionalization
was not yet introduced and services were being offered as friendly visits from
individuals, families and groups, and communities. The ‘helpers’ give what they can,
using common sense, to ease out the case situations during the 19 th century. (Mattaini,

The problem-solving concept on the other hand can be generally traced to the
book by John Dewey in 1933 titled How We Think which describes what goes on in the
human mind when confronted with a problem. According to Dewey, the problem-solving
behavior is based on reflective thought that begins with a feeling of doubt or confusion.
In order to solve a problem, a person follows a rational procedure consisting of steps in
an orderly sequence referred to as the five phases of reflective thinking. Then in the
1940’s, George Polya, a mathematics professor, developed a model which he intended
to be used by anyone engaged in problem-solving situation. His model consists of the
following phases: (a) understanding the problem including the problem situation, the
goal of the problem-solver and the conditions for solving the problem; (b) devising a
plan by which the goal can be attained; (c) carrying out the plan; and (d) evaluation of
the plan, its implementation, and the results. Polya’s formulation is an improvement over
Dewey’s because it includes evaluation. (Lee-Mendoza, 2008)

Mary Ellen Richmond authored the book Social Diagnosis in 1917, and started
the construction of foundation for the scientific methodology development of
professional social work. She searched the causes of poverty and social exclusion in
the interaction between an individual and his or her environment. Mary Richmond is
described nowadays as the mother of social casework. (Stayaert, 2009) She codified
the casework approach to helping people making it possible to replicate and teach
casework practice. This methodology contributed to the professionalization later on of
social work because it defined a mode of helping more than just the use of common
sense which justify the purposes and processes of the new profession.


Lee-Mendoza, T. (2008). Social Welfare and Social Work 3rd Ed. Quezon City: Central
Book Supply.

Mattaini, E. C. (1995). The Foundations of Social Work Practice - A Graduate Text.

Washington DC: NASW Press.

Stayaert, J. (2009). History of Social Work. Retrieved October 22, 2014, from 1917
Mary Ellen Richmond: