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Explain how you would use the life model to help clients understand and describe their challenges.

The life model focus on the environment and how it impacts our daily functions. Living at a homeless shelter is complex, and it exposes people to mental health, substance abuse, and poor living conditions. “People need to receive from their environment the resources essential for development and survival” (Tuner, 2017). To effectively apply the life model to help clients, you must first identify what challenges individuals are more vulnerable to and meet the client where they are at. It would be best to treat all individuals the same; it is beneficial to analyze each problem case by case to improve the client’s overall well-being.

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Explain how the problem-solving model can help the client address their challenges.

The problem-solving theory, developed by H. Perlman, builds on and seeks to enhance clients’ abilities to face psychosocial problems within the potential of a supportive and focused relationship that combines reality and challenge (Turner, 2017). This particular theory is essential for clients to identify their presenting problem and find practical solutions that would alleviate stressors or challenges that bring continuous issues. With my specific client, I thoroughly analyzed all of her presenting problems and prioritized the most problematic problem. The lack of income contributed to most of her presenting problems, such as housing.

How is the client using defense mechanisms, and how is that impeding the ability to problem solve and move forward in the life model?

Initially, the client was avoidant and refused to discuss all her presenting problems due to the lack of assistance she has received in the past. After further discussion and patience with the client, she mentioned that in the past, case managers have neglected to assist her with her problems. Therefore, she felt it was not necessary to communicate with anyone at the agency. I did advise the client without me knowing her challenges, I would not be able to entirely improve her quality of life at the shelter, and I understand her reasons for not wanting to explain her circumstances to me. Over the weeks, I checked in on the client weekly, which made her more comfortable communicating with me. Based on her age, I determined she did not need much income to qualify for project-based housing in the community. The client is awaiting her move in date at the newly constructed development in South Los Angeles.

Identify where the gaps are in applying the life model for this population.

The life model analyzes how clients integrate with the environment and how it affects their well-being. For this case, the gaps in applying the life model would be difficult due to the client’s inability to fully open up and communicate her needs. To effectively apply the life model, social workers must have complete knowledge of all the client’s presenting problems to find effective solutions.

When looking at the gaps, explain which theory might help fill the gaps of the life model when working with this population.

The theory I would use to fill the gaps in the life model would be Solution-focused theory. Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) holds clients accountable for solutions rather than responsible for problems. Building on a strengths perspective and using a time-limited approach, SFBT postulates that positive and long-lasting change can occur in a relatively brief period of time by focusing on “solution talk” instead of “problem talk” (Turner, 2017). Applying this theory would focus more on the problem-solving aspect involving the client and environment than the problem. Social work practitioners should always strive to find the most effective solution to their unique challenges.



Piedra, L. M., & Engstrom, D. W. (2009). Segmented assimilation theory and the life model: an integrated approach to understanding immigrants and their children. Social Work, 54(3), 270.

Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (6th ed.). Oxford University Press.

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