The use of the application form in the intake interview in a family service agency

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A The sis Presented to the Faculty of the School of Social Work The University of Southern California

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Social Work

by Kathleen Sullivan June 19^0

UMI Number: EP66367

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T h i s thesis, w r i t t e n u n d e r t h e d i r e c t i o n o f t h e candidate’s F a c u l t y

C o m m ittee

and approved

b y a l l its m e m b e r s , has been p r e s e n t e d to a n d ac cep ted by the F a c u l t y o f the G r a d u a t e S c h o o l o f S o c ia l W o r k in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the re ­ quirem ents f o r the degree o f




F aculty Committee




INTRODUCTION Family Service Agency

. . .




The application f o r m ....................


Method .................................



THE INTAKE INTERVIEW......................





The A, C a s e ............................


The B. C a s e .......................... . •


The C, C a s e ............................


The D. C a s e ............................


The E, C a s e ............................


The F. C a s e ............................


The G. C a s e ............................


The H, C a s e ............................


The I , C a s e ............................


The J. C a s e ............................


S u m m a r y ...............................








BIBLIOGRAPHY................................... APPENDIX A ................................

. . ,


APPENDIX B......................................


APPENDIX C......................................


CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION The intake interview, which has been defined as the 11introduction of the client to the case worker and the case work process,1^ has received a great deal of consideration and emphasis in social work literature.

Xn this interview

the client and the worker meet for the first time to con­ sider together the client*s problem and how the agency can be of help to him.

The case worker*s skill in accepting the

client, and in interpreting the function and services of the agency, enable the client to make use of the situation to determine if this is the type of help he wants and can use. There has been much thought on the part of case workers regarding the ways of getting started with the client in consideration of his problem, recognizing that the client may feel great resistance towards the agency, may fear a discussion of his problem and of not being understood, and may feel inadequate because he has to admit his failure in not being able to work out his situation himself. The Family Service Agency of the Los Angeles Area uses an application form which is given to the client to -** M* A. LeRoy and M. D. Maeder, “Generic Aspects of the Intake Interview,11 Intake Policies and Practices (New York: Family Service Association of America]! 19^-2), p. Ip7.


complete before he Is seen by the case worker in the intake interview.

This form requests identifying information re­

garding the client and his family members, and a statement of the problem as the client sees it.

This form is consid­

ered by the agency to have value in helping the client and the worker get started in the beginning of the intake inter­ view.

The value in the use of such a form is based upon

certain theoretical assumptions about the casework process: 1.

The filling in of the form by the client pre­

liminary to the interview helps him to organize his thinking around the presentation of his problem. 2*

It constitutes an assumption of responsibility

on the part of the client at the beginning of the applica­ tion process* 3*

It demonstrates to him the agency1s acceptance of

him as a self reliant person who can assume the responsibility of completing the form. Ij.* It gives the client a way of stating what he wants to talk about and of setting the pattern of his participa­ tion. 5*

The use of the form by the client has diagnostic

significance for the worker and may indicate the client's readiness for casework help. 6.

It affords a valid means of getting face sheet

material without interfering with the casework process.



It can be used by the worker to define for the

client the function and policies of the agency* There has been little written about the application form and the Family Service agency has not made a formal study of its use since it was developed in the agency two years ago*

This study proposes to inquire into its use by

both the client and the case worker in the intake interview, and to study the effect, if any, it has on the case work process*

It is thought that by attempting to relate the

above assumptions to specific intake interviews it may be possible to point up what value and significance the form has for both the worker and the client*

Is the continued

use of this form in Family Service validated? FAMILY SERVICE AGENCY The Family Service Agency of the Los Angeles area is a private non-sectarian agency which was established in 1930* Since that time the agency has grown and there are now six district offices in the Los Angeles area.

These offices are

located in the San Fernando Valley, Inglewood, West Los Angeles, the Harbor area, South East Los Angeles, and Cen­ tral District where this study was made*

The Central Dis­

trict office is located on 22nd Street and Vermont Avenue and Serves the central metropolitan area of Los Angeles* The function of the agency is to foster sound family


life and growth, of its individual members and to help prevent family discord and disintegration*

The agency offers the

following case work services to families and individuals **who wish and can use help11 and who live in the geographic territory covered by the agency: . * . family relationship services, services to children in their own homes, services to unmarried mothers, family budget service, service in relation to physical and mental illness, financial service, homemaker service and family information service.^ The agency1s intake policy is related to the lfsuitability** of the clientTs request in terms of agency function and the Mdesire and probability*1 of the clients ability to use family case work help towards a solution. Family Service of Los Angeles is a member of the Family Service Association of


It is the only

private non-sectarian agency in the community which has membership in this national association.


Family Service of Los Angeles, Board Members Manual

1946-1947, p. 11. ■3 Family Service Association of America was organized to promote the development of family social work and whole­ some family life, through field work with governmental and voluntary family service agencies, assistance in development of qualified personnel in faaiily case work, information service on family social work problems, public interpretation of family service movement and publications for professional case workers and the layman.


THE APPLICATION FORM The application forint* was developed about 19^-8 by two members of the staff of Family Service in the West Los Angeles District office.

The use of the form is optional

and at the present time (1950) it is used in about one half of the agency1s six district offices. Theoretically it is believed that the client1s first discussion of his problem in the agency should be with a caseworker.

For administrative reasons the client is

actually first seen by the receptionist.

Prior to the de­

velopment of this application form, the receptionist asked the client for identifyinginformation and some statement of his problem preliminary to his being seen by the case­ worker.

Because of the anxiety and fear which many clients

experience when applying for service to a social agency, they would become involved in discussing their problems with the receptionist.

When this happened the client found himself

in the position of having to repeat this information to the caseworker; his anxieties were often increased, while much of the initial impetus andfeeling expressed

by him was dis­

torted or lost for the casey/orker. The idea of the application form developed out of

k- See appendix C* for copy of application form.


this situation*

By using the form the client would be

given the responsibility of completing it before being seen by the worker, thereby reducing to a minimum the possibility of the client discussing his problem with anyone prior to the intake interview* The application form consists of a single mimeographed sheet which requests the following information:

name and

address of the client; name, age, birthplace of family members; previous marriages and divorces, religion, length of residence in the County and in the State, and two direct questions;

”How did you know of Family Service?”; and

”How do you think we can be of help to you?” In the Central District office, where this study was made the form is used routinely*

When the client comes to

the agency for the intake interview, the receptionist gives him the form and asks him to complete it before seeing the caseworker*

After the client completes the form the

receptionist notifies the caseworker that the client has arrived and gives the worker the form* The easeirorker is able to review the form before seeing the client.

From this she will get an idea of the

type of service the client is seeking and will also get some idea of his fanily status which will prepare her to some degree before she meets the client*


METHOD This is a descriptive study pointing up the uses made of this application form in the intake interview, with an attempt to evaluate its value.

It includes a study of

the intake interviews in ten cases from the active files of the central district office of the Family Service agency. These cases were selected from the


applications for

service to the district during the month of January 195>0« There were twenty-one such applications and every other case was chosen for the purpose of this study.

A schedule of

questions was prepared for use in obtaining data from the case records.

The five members of the case work staff of

the district were interviewed to obtain their evaluation of their experience in the use of this form in the intake interview*^

5 Direct applications are those not referred by another social agency. A copy of both of these schedules used for these interviews may be found in appendixes A. and B*

CHAPTER II THE INTAKE INTERVIEW In order to determine the value of the application form in the intake interview, consideration must first be given to some of the basic concepts of social case work which are inherent in the intake interview. The client, in coming to the agency for the first time, is facing a problem serious enough in nature to moti­ vate him to seek help*

It is recognized that the client may

be experiencing feelings of anxiety, hostility toward him** self and the agency because of the situation in which he finds himself, or fear of this new experience* Regardless of the extent of the individuals emotional involvement in his problem, meeting the client on his own ground is the first step toward the establishment of rapport between the client and the worker.-** The client must feel the acceptance of the caseworker before he can discuss his problem freely.

The caseworker can help

the client feel acceptance by her manner in meeting him, the tone of her voice, her facial expression and the warmth of her personality.

The worker1s ability to listen to the

client, her desire to understand what he is saying, and her

■** Alice L* Voiland, "Guiding Principles Defined," Developing Insight in Initial Interviews (New York: Family Service Association of America^ 195777 P • 9*

awareness of the feelings he is experiencing, demonstrate to him the uniqueness of this situation as one where he is accepted as a person, without criticism.

f,To accept, then,

is not to condone anti-social behavior but to understand it in the sense of understanding the feeling it

e x p r e s s e s . ' ^

The application form may offer a means of demonstrat­ ing to the client the agency* s acceptance of him as a selfreliant person who can assume responsibility for formulating his problem.

Beginnings are important and significant.

People are frequently asked to complete an application form when requesting something such as admission to college, a position, or a marriage certificate*

On these occasions the

application is the formal way of requesting a service and implies that the person applying knows what he wants and is capable of making a written request.

The agency does not use

the application merely to formalize the occasion for the client; the staff is well aware of the emotional significance involved in requesting help.

This form demonstrates to the

client the agency*s recognition of his responsibility in applying for service and their acceptance of him and of his statement of his problem*

ftThe client tends to make much of

the beginning and the agency can help him do so by being 2

Annette Garrett, Interviewing Its Principles and Methods (New York: Family Service Association of America, 195517"p. 23 .


where he Is, that is, at a point of starting something i m p o r t a n t .! ,3

The application form should represent, when

filled out by the client, the intentions of both the client and the agency.

,!It should provide a clearly understood

basis for relationship, in other words, a focus for its beginning contact between client and the worker.”^In the first interview some relationship develops between the worker and the client.

It is through the case

work relationship that the client is able to discuss his problem and to work out his feelings around the situation. The dynamics of the helping process depend vitally upon a relationship between client and worker which has In it the qualities of mutual confidence, respect and freedom.5 The professional relationship which develops between client and worker differs from ordinary relationships in that it is controlled by the worker as to time, place and purpose.


worker must make this relationship one in which the client will feel himself a responsible adult.

This can be done by

giving the client a chance to discuss his problems, to 3 Herbert H. Aptekar, ,rThe Significance of Structure in the Practice of Case Work,*1 The Family, XXI0 (February, l9Mf)» p- 375.' ^ Ibid.. P. 376. b Kenneth. L. M. Pray, "Generic Principles of Casework Practice in 19^7*11 Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work 194-7 (New York: Columbia University Press, 19 p. 229 *

consider with him his possible plans and the fears and im­ pediments that keep him from a solution. The application form can be used as a tool in estab­ lishing a case work relationship.

This form which has been

completed by the client and given to the worker is on the worker1s desk when the intake interview begins.

This form

can be considered as a tie between worker and client as through it they are sharing the client's problem to some extent and the relationship begins around this.

The way in

which the worker uses the form may help to clarify to the client the responsibilities which he and the worker carry, and the way in which they can work together# A basic concept of social work is the right of the client to self-determination.

Social case work does not

consist in the worker imposing restrictions on the client or judging the client's behavior.

It is focused on giving

the client an opportunity through the media of the social agency and the case work relationship, to work on his problem and his feelings about his situation.

Inherent in

this is the conviction that the client retains full control over himself as a person and has the right to make his own decisions.

Case work is not responsible for changing the

client but rather for setting up and sustaining a kind of case work situation in which change can take place.

MIt is

his own will, his own capacity for growth and change, his


own selective use of his experiences in accord with his nature and needs that determines the outcome .,f6 The application form may be a help to the client in organizing his thinking around the presentation of his problem.

It may have specific values for the caseworker

as well as the client in the beginning of the intake inter­ view.

If the client does not complete this form the recep­

tionist does not ask him to do so but accepts it from him without question; the caseworker can handle this with the client in the interview if she feels it is important* Family Service, like all agencies, has certain requirements as a basis for determining the client1s eligi­ bility for the service.

These include that the applicants

be Protestant,7 live within a certain geographical area, that their problems are in the area of family relations or individual personality conflicts, and that they be people who are able to use case work help.

The application form

can be used by the worker to define for the client the policies of the agency.

The worker, observing the clientfs

address, family status, religion and problem as stated, can focus the intake interview around any one of these ^

2 30 *

7 By an interagency agreement Catholic and Jewish clients are referred to the sectarian agencies set up for them, although there are occasional exceptions*



points in order to clarify for the client any question of his eligibility for service from the agency. Another value of the application form for the worker is that it serves as a means of getting face sheet material. This identifying information is important in order to indi­ vidualize the client for the agency.

It is necessary when

cases are cleared through Social Service Exchange.


information is also useful when it is necessary to consult with other agencies about the client or to make referrals to other agencies.

In some agencies a receptionist


the face sheet material and completes a form with such in­ formation by asking direct questions of the client.


pointed out earlier® this frequently leads to the client discussing his problem with the receptionist and was one reason the application form was developed.

In some agencies

the caseworker requests identifying information directly from the client in the intake interview.

This can be handled

skillfully without losing the clientfs emotional response but may interrupt him in the presentation of his problem. The application form has value to the caseworker in her diagnostic thinking about the client.

After the worker

reviews the form she has a general picture of the client and his problem.

She has a knowledge of the size of the

® See Chapter I.


family, the ages, birth places and religion of the members, and information as to previous marriages and divorces*


knows where the family has lived, if there are others in the home, and the source of the client’s knowledge of the agency’s service*

The worker can gain an awareness of the

problem and form a tentative diagnosis through her study of this form*

Often the questions the client does not answer

are significant as they may indicate areas of real anxiety. These concepts of acceptance, relationship, the client’s right of self determination and participation, which are basic to case work practice, have been considered theoretically in relation to the application form.

In the

next chapter they will be examined in relation to case material.

CHAPTER III AN ANALYSIS OF TEN INTAKE INTERVIEWS An analysis of the case work process in the intake interviews of ten case records taken from the files of the Central District office of the Family Service Agency of Los Angeles Area provided the basis for studying the use of the application form.

These interviews were studied in rela­

tion to the questions set forth in the schedule in an effort to determine what effect the application form had on the case work process.

In each record consideration was given to the

nature of the initial contact the client had with the agency, the information the client was able to give on the applica­ tion form, and the use both the client and the worker made of the information in the intake interview.

Summaries of

these studies are given below. THE A. CASE On 12/30/4.9 Mrs. A. telephoned the agency requesting an appointment to discuss her marital problems.

She explain­

ed that she had been remarried and has a daughter by her first marriage.

The child1s father comes to see her fre­

quently and this is causing discord between Mrs. A. and her second husband.

Mrs. A. was given an appointment on 1/3/50

16 at three o’clock. When Mrs. A. arrived at the agency for her appoint­ ment she was given an application form to complete. was able to answer all the questions on the form.

Mrs. A. She

indicated that she had heard of the agency through the radio. In answer to the question, wHow do you think we can be of help to you?M she wrote, MIn an advisory capacity.f* In this interview there was no direct reference made to the application form by either the worker or the client# Mrs. A# did take the responsibility for beginnirg and in doing so explained more fully the question on the form, f,How did you know of Family Service?11 Mrs. A# opened the interview stating that she had heard one of the ’Family Close-Ups* programs and felt she could use marital counseling. Mrs. A. said that her . problem is not serious in her mind but it is affecting others# Mrs. A#’s former husband does not seem to realize that ’it is all over.’ He tries to be a good father to their adopted child but meanwhile is causing difficulty in her married life. Mrs. A. was able to discuss her situation in a great deal of detail in this interview and continued to blame her first husband for the difficulty she is now having.


worker was able to focus on this after Mrs. A. had said she felt her first husband was the one who needed the help. When Mrs. A. heard our radio program she felt we might give him help and counselling. I wondered whether Mrs. A# hoped that we could take the part of being a referee and that this might lessen her feelings. Mrs. A. said her first husband needed help in general, not just around


Mary A* and the marriage but if that could be broached it might help* She again said she does not feel that it is her problem* I asked her how she felt we might help and she said as far as she was concerned she felt no need in coming again. However she does feel her first husband could use some help and she will suggest to him that he call for an appointment* In this case the client indicated she wanted help in an ’’advisory capacity’1 and it appeared that she was not ready to involve herself in working actively on her problem. The worker did not pick up ’’advisory capacity” as an area for discussion but accepted her problem in the manner in which she presented it in the interview and offered the agency services to Mrs. A*1s first husband which was what Mrs. A. was requesting. THE B. CASE Mrs. B. telephoned the agency on l/lO/^O.

She ex­

plained she was having marital problems and was anxious to be seen as soon as possible.

An appointment was made for

three o1clock that day. Mrs. B. was given an application form to complete* She was able to give all the information requested.


stated that she knew of the agency through her doctor.


answer to the question, ’’How do you think we can be of help to you?” she wrote, ”l want some advice on a marital problem.” In this interview there was no direct reference made to the application form in the beginning.

Mrs. B. had


difficulty as she began to cry before she could start to talk*

The worker assured Mrs. B. that it was all right to

cry and waited until she could control her crying*

Mrs. B.

was then able to take the responsibility for presenting her problem. She explained that she didn’t know what to do and feels that she should be able to help herself. She has tried everything she knows and now feels she can not continue her life the way it is now, but she does not know what decision to make. I suggested that maybe if she could tell me something about her situation perhaps between us we could work out some plan. She explained that her husband had been going out with another woman from the time her first baby was born until four days before her second child was born. She had not known anything about this but thought her husband was working nights. When her husband told her she decided the only thing to do would be for her to get a divorce. Mr. B. did not want a divorce but felt that if this was what she wanted she should go ahead. When she realized her husband did not want this she decided to try to work it out for the sake of the children. She explained that she was terribly hurt by the knowledge that her husband gave her and she has never completely gotten over it. Although Mrs. B. stated on the application form that she wanted advice she was able to involve herself as a responsible person in this situation almost immediately.


was hard for Mrs. B. to ask for help and she had little knowledge of the function of the agency as Is seen In the ending of the first interview. I asked Mrs. B. how she thought we could help her. She said she did not know. I wondered how she happened to come to the agency at this time. She explained her obstetrician had told her to come to Family Service a year and a half ago. She wasn’t able to come then as she thought there was something she should be able to do.


Last week she was concerned about her physical condition. She telephoned the doctor and he again suggested thatshe discuss this with her minister or go to Family Service• The worker did not make direct use of the form in this interview.

She might have picked up the problem as

Mrs. B. had been able to state it on the form in an effort to help Mrs. B. begin a discussion of her situation.

Mrs. B.

was very upset and showed her disturbance by her crying. Although the worker accepted the crying and tried to make Mrs. B. feel comfortable, the information on the application was not used to help Mrs. B. feel more acceptance in dis­ cussing her problem. THE C. CASE On 1/13/50 Mrs. C. telephoned the agency requesting help in making plans for her daughter.

She explained she

felt a boarding school placement would be advisable.


appointment was made to discuss this with her on l/l6/50. Mrs. C. came into the agency by appointment.


completing the application form she left blank the space asking name of husband, and did not fill in the space for previous marriages of woman.

Mrs. C. Vtrrote the following

in answer to how she thought the agency could be of help; f,My daughter seems to be a little mixed up in her mind, due I think to a broken home.*1 Mrs. C. indicated that she knew


of the agency through a Mrs, S. In the beginning of the intake interview the worker used the form directly by asking about the referral source. I began the interview by making some reference to her having known our agency through a Mrs, S. Mrs. C. said that Mrs. S. is a police officer. With this Mrs. C. started talking about the difficulty she has with her daughter Betty# Being so worried about some of Betty’s behavior Mrs. C. went to the police to see if they would have any suggestions as to what she should do# The police woman referred Mrs. C, to Family Service and at the same time promised to go to the school and talk to Betty# As I understand it Mrs# G# had requested the police woman to do that. Mrs. C# said that Betty is not bad but she had missed a few days of school, is defiant and the mother thought it might help if Mrs. S# talked with her. Mrs. C. said she did not reveal much of the story to the police woman, but evidentally the school knows all about the broken home, Mr. C.’s drink­ ing, etc. and they imparted that information to Mrs. S. In the above beginning of the Interview Mrs. C. was able to discuss her problem after the worker began the interview by asking about the referral source that Mrs. C* had written on the application form.

The problem which Mrs.

C. wrote on the form was basically what she discussed in the interview, but in the interview she brought out more her feeling of responsibility for Betty’s unhappiness because she, herself, had obtained a divorce from Betty’s father. In this case the client used the form to focus on the nature of the problem.

The worker used the information

on the form for diagnostic purposes and to get more insight into the precipitating factors in Mrs. C.’s problem.


THE D. CASE On l/l2/50 Mrs. D. telephoned requesting an appoint­ ment for her husband.

She told the receptionist that ”he

gambles and feels that he has reached the point where he needs help.” Mrs. D. had been directed to the agency by a worker of the Southern California Society for Mental Hygiene. An appointment was given for Mr. D. on 1/17/50. Mr. D. came into the office by appointment.

He com­

pleted the application form giving all the information asked for with the exception of the question: of Family Service?” which he left blank.

”How did you know Mr. D. indicated

that he had two children age three years and six months respectively.

The family had lived in the county for twenty-

five years, are Protestant and have a maid living in the home.

In answer to the question:

”How do you think we can

be of help to you?” he wrote, ”Curb or cure my gambling.” In the intake interview the worker began by making direct reference to the application form. I commented on Mr. D.’s request for help, indicating that this was a pretty big job to tackle. Gambling is a real problem to him and he feels he is intelligent enough to know that he needs help. He is particularly concerned about it since he has been losing money and their financial circumstances are poorer than they have ever been. Mr. D. was able to assume responsibility for a dis­ cussion of his problem in response to the worker1s focus


on the way he thought the agency could help him. X wondered what he knew about the agency and the way in which we might help him, particularly since his wife had called to make the appointment for him and I had some question as to his understanding of us. He had never heard of Family Service and came because his wife had made the appointment here and she was insisting that he get help. He, too, feels he needs help. He has been gambling all his life; he used to be very lucky and made lots of money. Since his marriage and the war his luck has turned and he has been losing more often than winning. He did not think his marriage or service was responsible for this. He is in the construction business and earns quite a lot of money. He has lost as much as $lip,000 gambling and just can't seem to hang on to the money that he makes. He does not take it out of the bank be­ cause once it gets there it is pretty safe, usually he spends it before he can deposit it. In the beginning of the interview the worker used the application form to help Mr. D. focus on his problem and on how he thinks the agency can be ofhelp

to him.

Mr. D. was

able to participate in the interview by indicating that although he came at the insistence of his wife, he, too, is worried about his gambling.

As hefelt

ceptance of him as a person he was able

the worker’s ac­ to bring out that

the gambling worried him but his reason for seeking help at this time was his fear that his wife might divorce him if he didn't stop his gambling. In this interview also the worker used the application form as a starting point to discuss the client's understand­ ing of the agency.

The fact that Mrs. D. had called the

office to make the appointment for her husband and the way in which Mr. D. stated his problem could indicate to the


worker that Mr. D. was not ready to involve himself and was coming just to satisfy his wife.

However discussion pointed

up that Mr. D. was concerned about his gambling and was able to involve himself in the interview almost immediately. THEE. CASE Mrs. E. telephoned the office on 1/12/50.

She told

the receptionist that she was in the process of getting a divorce and had some problems around this*

As she was re**

questing an appointment after working hours she was told that one of the caseworkers would telephone her to arrange an appointment*

Later when the worker telephoned her at

work Mrs. E* said she had called at the suggestion of her sister who is a social worker.

Mrs. E* was able to arrange

to leave work early and an appointment was made for her the following day* On the application form Mrs. E. did not name any one under ’’members of the fanily.M

She gave the name of a pre~

vious marriage, gave her sister's name as her source of knowledge of the agency and in answer to the last question about the type of help she wanted she said, f,Pacing and accepting decisions*11 The application form was not referred to directly in the interview.

This client was able to participate in a

discussion of her problem at once.

She began the interview

and seemed to have her thinking well organized around her problems.

As Mrs. E. related her problem she indicated that

she had discussed it at length with her sister and had a real understanding of the services of this agency. The worker used the application form as a diagnostic tool as seen in the beginning of the recording of this case. Office interview with Mrs. E.. I found her to be an at** tractive looking woman, who showed real concern about her situation. She wrote on the application form in response to the question, 'How do you think we can be of help to you?*, *facing and accepting decisions.* As Mrs. E. described her problem I had the impression of many of the typical reactions of the wife of an alcoholic, wanting to separate yet feeling indispensable, uncon** sciously needing to protect and mother, and unable to really break off a relationship with a dependent man# THE P. CASE Mrs. P.*s first contact with the agency was by letter. On l/l3/50 she wrote stating that she had heard of the agency through the ^Family Close-Upsu radio program.

She feels a

strong need for help as she and her husband are fighting and there is more and more general unhappiness • She explained that this is her second marriage and that she is seven years older than her husband.

They are now being supported by

their parents as Mr. P. is in school.

Mrs. P. requested

that the agency let her know if they can help and if not where she could go for help.

In reply to this letter the

worker wrote offering Mrs. P. an appointment for 1/19/50.

25 Mrs. P. was able to complete all the questions on the application form.

In answer to the question, MHow do you

think we can be of help to you?** she wrote, ”to understand my actions and therefore mature, and in so doing produce a good sound relationship between my husband and myself.” In the interview the worker began by using the ap­ plication form directly in discussing Mrs. P.fs problem. I told Mrs. P. that I had read carefully her good letter in which she requested our help. In the letter she dwelled particularly upon her marriage, which I noticed she had mentioned on the application form, but there she had dwelled more on her personal needs. Perhaps she would tell me more about the problem she needed help with. Mrs. P. acted quite embarrassed, mumbled a bit, then said she guessed her problem really wasn1t serious* She added that perhaps there were many other people who needed our help more than she* Her problem really isn’t a big one, it is kind of vague, maybe she shouldn’t have written the letter. I told her the extent of one’s problem would not be a criterion in my mind. Something was bothering her that was important enough first, to stimulate her to write the letter and second to come for the Interview. In the above paragraph the worker was showing the client her acceptance of her as a person whose problem was important to the worker.

The worker used the client’s

letter and the application form in an effort to establish a relationship and demonstrate her acceptance.

As the inter­

view continued Mrs. P. was able to take more responsibility for discussing what had really motivated her request for help*

26 I wondered if she had ever been to a social agency before* Sometimes if a person hasn*t been to an agency it is pretty hard to come • . • and wonder about need­ ing to be here is not an usual reaction, Mrs. P. said she did not mind coming to a social agency, but she just wondered if her problem was important since there must be so many people who need our help. Continuing, she told me that she had a lot of experience with hospitals and clinics and that coming to the agency was something like that. She went on to say that as a child she had been sick a lot and finally it was decided some of her illness had an emotional basis and she was directed to a psychiatric clinic. For a long time she had help at the • . . clinic. She thinks they said she was schizophrenic. Some time later she had a break, was in a hospital and had shock treatment. Later she saw a psychiatrist and he helped a lot. She had some of the same feelings then that she has now, in fact she feels she should come back to psychiatric treatment. Mrs. F. was able to bring out her real problem, her fear for herself and her feelings that she was needing psychiatric help again.

Her feeling about her marriage and

the difficulties she and her husband were having were real problems and the ones she used in requesting service from the agency in her letter.

On the application form she was

able to indicate a little more clearly her part in this situation.

It was the worker1s use of the information on

the application form and the letter that helped Mrs. P. bring out her real concern.

This case is unusual in that

there are two written requests for service from Mrs. P., each bringing her closer to the problem which she was able to discuss in the interview situation where she felt the acceptance and the interest of the worker. In this case the worker and the client used the


application form as something which represented real sharing together and as a basis for the relationship that developed. hater in the interview the worker again used the application form to tie up the interview and focus the discussion. Mrs. P. talked some .more about herself, referring to moods, and unexplainable reasons for unhappiness. There were some other comments about her husband being immature as well as herself. I referred to her statement on the application form; from the explanation I gathered that Mrs. P. wants help in becoming mature and she definitely said that if she could acquire that it would help her husband. They donft argue really but sometimes he gets on her nerves because of his childish reactions. THE G. CASE On 1/17/50 Mrs. G. telephoned the agency requesting financial help.

She explained that both she and lier husband

were sick with arthritis and were unable to work. had unemployment checks due in two months.

Mr. G.

Mrs. G. was told

that the agency might not be able to help them financially but that an appointment could be made for them at which time the worker would consider with them other possibilities such as referral to another agency.

Mrs. G. accepted an

appointment on this basis for l/l8/50. Both Mr. and Mrs. G. came to the agency for the appointment.

They were given the application form to fill

out and were only able to write their names, address, ages and their birth place as Italy.

They did not state what

type of help they wanted or how they knew of Family Service.

Mrs. G. told the receptionist that she was having difficulty completing the form as she could not spell. When the receptionist gave the form to the worker she told her of the difficulty Mrs. G. had in her attempt to complete it.

The worker began the interview by referring

to the form and Mrs. G.*s difficulty with it. I stated that I knew Mrs. G. had had some difficulty filling out the form and with her help completed the names of her two children, whose names she was not certain how to spell. X stated that it was probably difficult for them to write out how they thought we could help them and that perhaps they would like to tell me. In this case both Mr. and Mrs. G. appeared anxious to take responsibility for completing the form but were unable to do so because of their inability to write English. Mr. G.’s way of meeting the worker indicated his desire to share responsibility. When I greeted Mr. G. he indicated his desire to par­ ticipate and they both came into the office. Later Mrs. G* stated fthats why I brought you along,1 when we were discussing the facts around Mr. G.Ts employability. Although the Gs. were unable to express their problem In writing they gave every evidence in verbal discussion that they had thought it out carefully and their thinking was well organized.

They did have a language handicap and fre­

quently lapsed into Italian in their conversation.

In this

case the form had little informational value due to the client*s inability to write but it did serve as a starting


point in the interview.

The worker*s acceptance of this

couple*s language difficulty and her demonstration of her willingness to help complete the form for them did much to establish a relationship in which the clients felt comfort­ able discuss their problem* THE H. CASE Mrs. H. came to the agency on 1/25/50 without an appointment. of tears.

She seemed to be very upset and on the verge

As there was an open appointment she was seen by

a worker. Mrs. H. completed the application form.

She indicated

that she learned of Family Service from the city hall.


answer to the question of religion she indicated that she was Catholic and she did not answer the last question, !tHow do you think we can be of help to you?ff The worker began the interview around the application form, specifically bringing up the policy of the agency in regard to Catholic applicants• Mrs. H. began by saying she had gone to the city hall and they had referred her to our agency. I commented that she had indicated on the application form that she was Catholic and discussed this with her, saying that there was a Catholic agency. Mrs. H. explained that she was baptised Catholic and brought up in the religion and she did attend church every Sunday. However there are a lot of things about’the Catholic religion she does not go along with and one of these is continuing in an unhappy marriage. She was not wanting to go to the Catholic agency.


In this interview the worker used the application form, in the beginning of the intake interview, to define the agency*s policy regarding religion*

It was important to

clear this point with the client before she became involved in a discussion of her problem as, if she were to be referred to the other agency she would be in the position of having to repeat her entire discussion and much of the feeling tone might be lost.

Although Mrs. H. was not able to indicate

her problem on the application form, she was able to par­ ticipate in the beginning of the interview and discussed her problem in a very responsible, organized manner.

Prom the

intensity of her feeling and the manner in which she came to the agency it would appear that Mrs. H. had her problem well organized in her mind when she arrived.

The applica­

tion form was not used by the client directly for presenting the problem.

The worker used the form only to precipitate

discussion of the religious factor in determining elibibility for agency service* THE I. CASE Mrs. I. telephoned the agency on .1/25/50 stating that she had marital problems and desired advice.

She had called

X agency, who had referred her to Y agency, who in turn had directed her to Family Service.

She felt she had been on a

,fmerry-go-round.H Mrs. I. was given an appointment on the

afternoon of tills date. In filling out the application form Mrs. I. indicated she had learned of Family Service through the Y agency.


completed all the blanks on the form and in answer to the question:

MHow do you think we can be of help to you?,f she

wrote, ffI wish advice and help in regard to my family troubles Although this client was able to accept responsibility for completing the application form and did state on the form the type of help she wanted she found it difficult to take the responsibility of discussing her problem in the interview.

Mrs. I. was concerned about her marriage and

wanted help in deciding whether or not she should obtain a divorce.

Perhaps one of the reasons Mrs. I. had difficulty

in presenting her problem in the interview was due to the fact that this was the third agency she had consulted and she may have been fearful that she would not be accepted here either. There was no direct reference made to the application form in the beginning of this interview. Before sitting down, Mrs. I. looked out the window and told me of her efforts to contact an agency in a manner which characterized much of the interview. She did not seem to be interested in what I would reply or how I would participate. She indicated that *the thing1 had been going on a long time and that she now wished to come to some decision about it. I suggested that she tell me of her situation so that we could determine whether this agency could help her with her problem, and if so, how. She v/anted to know how I wished her to relate it to me, I replied in the way it was important to her. Mrs. I. prefaced her remarks with the statement


that she had come here because she wanted to know whether or not what had happened was her fault* Mrs. I. wanted advice as to whether or not she should divorce her husband. They have been married for seven­ teen years and have two children age sixteen and nine. The central problem is her husbands drinking and sub­ sequent verbal and physical abuse of both the children and herself. She stated in a rather desperate way that she must do something about this. The worker did not use the application form in this interview.

The client had used it to state her problem and

also to indicate how she had known of the agency, and it was evident that she had a feeling of insecurity arising out of her experiences with two other agencies where she did not receive any service. THE J. CASE Mrs. J. telephoned the agency requesting an appoint­ ment.

She was having marital problems and had been directed

to Family Service by a local Marriage Clinic.

An office

appointment was made for her on l/31/50* On the application form Mrs. J. gave her husbands age as 26 years and her age as 2l|_ years.

There were two boys in

the family age 5 years and six months respectively.


the question about previous marriages of woman she wrote ,fWidow.,f She indicated that she had been in Los Angeles for seven years and stated that she felt the agency could help her ffby advisement and


Mrs. J. was able to take responsibility for discussing her problem in the beginning of the interview.

The applica­

tion form was not referred to directly in this interview but from the way the case is recorded it seems apparent that the form was on the worker's desk as Mrs. J. referred to it. Diagnostically this form could have a great deal of signifi­ cance for the worker*

In studying the form the worker gets

the picture of a young woman,


years old, widowed and now

in her second marriage, who was experiencing marital problems severe enough to bring her to the agency.

Mrs. J.'s ability

to complete the form could indicate to the worker her will­ ingness to involve herself in the case work situation. Mrs. J. explained she would like my help and advice about their marriage. She and her husband are having a difficult time adjusting to each other and to their marriage. She wants to know what she should do about this. She continued by saying that you will note that I am a widow (pointing to the application form), my first husband died in the service. We were married actually only about four months before he went overseas and about one and a half years ago I married the second time. This was a mistake owing to the fact that I do not really love my second husband like I should and in the same way that I did my first one, but on the other hand I feel that it is not impossible to love again. Mrs. J. feels she is to blame for this situation. She had felt- that she would learn to love her husband in time but now after 1-g- years this has not happened. Their marital situation is getting worse instead of better. In this interview the application form was not used directly by the worker.

The client began the interview by

restating the kind of help she was seeking and again

34 referred to the form when she was explaining her marital status* SUMMARY In the analysis of the ten intake interviews dis­ cussed above, six of the clients were requesting help with marital problems; one client wanted financial help.; one help around his habit her daughter; and

of gambling; one help

in planningfor

one client was requesting

help aroundher

personal needs and around her marriage*

Nine of the ten

clients indicated on the application form how they knew of Family Service.

Two people had heard the ,fFamily Close-Up,f

radio program; two were directed by other agencies; and the others were directed by relatives, doctors, police and one through the city hall* Six of the clients were able to assume the respon­ sibility of filling out the foim completely*

One client

could not complete the form because of a language difficulty. The other three clients left some blank spaces on the form; one did not state

his problem.

In five of

the cases the application form was used

by the worker in beginning and in helping the client focus on the problem*

Two of the clients began the interview by

referring to the form and in three cases there was no


indication in the recording that the information on the form was used in the interview*

CHAPTER IV STAFF EVALUATION OP APPLICATION FORM The five members of the case work staff of the Central District office of the Family Service Agency were interviewed to determine their thinking about the use of the application form and the value it has for them as a diagnostic tool and as an aid used in the beginning of the intake interview* Two of the staff members who were interviewed were the ones who were responsible for the origin of the form in the agency.

The purpose of the form as they originally saw

it has been discussed earlier,-*- and was primarily to give the client a way of relating identifying information and stating his problem without the risk of becoming involved in a discussion of his problem with the receptionist.


the five staff members interviewed, two had used the form since its origin, two had ten months experience with it and one staff member had six months experience with its use* The staff all stated that the form has diagnostic value for them in understanding the client, that the way the client is able to state his problem or his request gives them some insight into his motivation in coming to the agency "** See appendix B. for copy of schedule*


and some idea of the duration of the problem. also gets a picture of the family make up.

The worker

The questions

the client is unable to complete on the form are often significant diagnostic clues. Glues as to the clientfs ability to use case work help can sometimes be found in the way the client is able to complete the form.

On those foms where the worker gets

some indication of the client's motivation in coming to the agency there is more indication of the client's readiness for help.

However some clients are able to complete the

form and state their problems very clearly but in the inter­ view they are unable to involve themselves and can take no responsibility in working on their problem. The form was felt to have limited value in determining the client's eligibility for agency service.

The obvious

eligibility requirements such as location of the client in a particular geographical district and religion are usually cleared by telephone when the client calls to make an appointment.

However if this is a problem to be discussed

in the interview the application form can serve as a focus for the discussion of the agency's policies. The staff had found that the form has value in focus­ ing the problem for discussion in the beginning of the inter­ view.

If the client has been able to state his problem the


worker can use what he has written as a means of helping the client to begin. the question:

The staff did

believe, however, that

tfHow do you think wecan be of help

to you?”

could be reworded so it could be more meaningful to the client*

It was pointed out that if the client knows very

little about the agency or its policies it might be dif­ ficult to answer this question*

It was suggested that the

form be changed to ask more directly what the client saw as his problem or what does he wish to discuss* The staff were in agreement as to the

value of the

form as a means of obtaining face sheet material.

One staff

member said she had never been able to get such complete stastical data before and she felt the form was very helpful in this respect.

One staff member thought that the client

might be blocked in the beginning of the interview by hav­ ing been asked to write down this identifying data, espe­ cially if he came for case work services and had no idea why the agency thought this information was necessary. The staff all believed that the use of this applica­ tion form Is one way of demonstrating to the client our awareness of his responsibility and of encouraging him to take an active part in the case work situation. It was felt that the client should be able to state his problem even though he might not have a real understand­ ing of the function of the agency.

It was recognized,

however, that a client may know what he wants in coming to the agency but not know if the agency is set up to help him with this problem, and therefore not answer the last ques­ tion until he learns more about the agency from the worker in the interview.

The staff saw real value in considering

a rewording of this question and suggested if the client is expected to state his problem as he sees it the question should be asked in that manner*

CHAPTER V CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS This study was directed toward determining the uses made of the application form in the Family Service Agency and the value it has for the client and the worker in the intake interview.

The study was based on an analysis of

ten intake interviews taken from the files of the Central District office of the Family Service Agency and on inter­ views with five members of the social work staff in that district.

Certain theoretical assumptions as to the value

of the use of this form in the application process were formulated in Chapter I, and were examined in the analysis of the ten interviews* One concept formulated was that the client, in fill­ ing in the form, is helped to organize his thinking around the presentation of his problem.

In the ten interviews,

eight clients were able to state their problem in some manner on the application form.

In one case the client was

anxious to do so but was unable due to a language handicap. The other client, who did not state her problem on the form, showed in the interview that she was not sure what help she wanted from the agency* Two additional concepts were that the filling in of the form by the client constitutes an assumption of his

ipresponsibility at the beginning of the application process and demonstrates to him the agency*s acceptance of him as a self reliant person who can assume the responsibility of com­ pleting the form*

Since these have to do with intangibles

and the feelings of the client the only way in which they can be examined is through observing the way in'which the client begins the relationship with the worker.

In the F.

case, Mrs. F. was able to assume responsibility for complet­ ing the application form but in the interview showed her feeling of ambivalence around requesting help.

In this case

the application form was used as a basis of the relationship which developed between the client and the worker*

In the

I. Case, Mrs. I* came to the agency after having gone to two other agencies without receiving any help.

She was able

to complete the application form but in the interview had difficulty talking and evidenced a feeling of insecurity, which was undoubtedly due to her fear that she might not be accepted here either* Another concept was that the form gives the client a v/ay of stating what he wants to talk about and of setting the pattern of participation.

In the interviews there is

indication of some correlation between the way the client states his problem on the form and the way he participates in the interview*

In four cases the clients wrote they

wanted advice or counsel*

In one of these four, the A* case,


Mrs. A. was not able to involve herself at all but decided her first husband was the one who needed help.

In the other

three cases the problems were marital discord and the clients were not sure what they wanted and tended to show the worker that they were not the one responsible for the problem.


contrast, in the D. case, Mr. D. stated his problem very directly and participated in the interview in the same manner. Another concept was that the use of the form by the client has diagnostic significance for the caseworker.


form provides knowledge of the client!s family situation, some insight into his motivation for coming to the agency and some idea of the client*s problem as he sees it.


more the questions which are not answered are often of diagnostic significance and represent areas of anxiety for the client.

In the C. case, Mrs. C. did not fill in her

husband*s name and left a blank space for previous mar­ riages of woman.

In the interview Mrs. C. brought out her

feelings about her broken home and the affect her former husband*s drinking had on her daughter. The staff believed that the form is a valid means of obtaining face sheet material.

One staff member said she

had never before been able to get such complete identifying information.

Another staff member thought that there might

be an occasional client however, who, not understanding the need for this information, might be blocked in the beginning


of the interview* A final concept underlying the use of the application form was that it can be used by the worker to define agency function and policies for the client*

In the H. case the

worker used the form to explain the agency policy in regard to religion.

The worker in the F* case used the form to

focus on the function of the agency and the way in which the agency could help Mrs. F. In evaluating their own experience with the use of this form the present staff stated that the form does have value for them in all the above ways*

They believed, however,

this form could have still more value if the wording of the form was changed.

They pointed out that it could be dif­

ficult for the client to answer the question, uHow do you think we can be of help to you?’1 without the client knowing the function of the agency*

It was suggested the question

might be changed to ask more directly what the client saw as his problem, or what it is he would like to discuss* The interviews studied indicate that the form was not used to its fullest advantage in all the interviews or used uniformly by all of the workers.

There are indications that

this form could have greater value if the questions it asked were reworded*

In conclusion, this study of ten interviews

does demonstrate that the application form has real values for both client and worker in the application process as

i{IJlI well as in the intake interview and clearly validates its continued use.




Aptekar, Herbert H., Basic Concepts of Social Case Work. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1914.1.

1914. pp.

Garrett, Annette, Interviewing Its Principles and Methods. New York: The Family Welfare Association of America,

*, 123 p p .

191 2

Hamilton, Gordon, Theory and Practice of Social Case Work* New York: Columbia University Press, 194-0* 388 pp. Lowrey, Fern, editor, Readings in Social Case Work 1920-1938* New York: Columbia University Press, 1939* 8l0 pp. Reynolds, Bertha Capon, An Experiment in Short-Contact Interviewing. Menasha, Wisconsin: Smith College School of Social Work, 1932. 101 pp. Taft, Julia Jessie, editor, Family Case Work and Counseling. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 194-8* 304. pp. Witmer, Helen Leland, Social Work, An Analysis of a Social Institution. New York: Farrar and Rinehart, IncTT 194-2• 5 3 9 PP* B.


Aptekar, Herbert H., ’’The Significance of Structure In the Practice of Social Case Work,” The Family, 24-:3?5“38l, February, 194-4-* Cantor, Nathanul, ’’Knowledge and Skill in Case Work,11 American Journal of Orothopsychiatry, ll±t325-3299 April, T9lPt Le Roy, M. A. and M. D. Maeder, ’’Generic Aspects of the Intake Interview,11 The Family, 23:l4-~23, March, 194-2*

Lowrey, Pern, ”Case Work Principles for Guiding the Worker in Contacts of Short Duration,” The Social Service Review, 22:2314.-239> June, 1914-8 . Pray, Kenneth, ”A Restatement of Generic Principles of Social Casework Practice,” Journal of Social Casework, 28 :;283-290, October, 19^4-T♦ Skinner, John, ”Defining Treatment Aims in Initial Interviews, Journal of Psychiatric Social Work, 27t133-139> Spring, 1 % W. . . Towle, Charlotte, ”Case Work Methods of Helping the Client to Make Maximum Use of His Capacities and Resources,” The Social Service Review, 22:i|.69-lj-79* December, 19q-8. C. PAMPHLET Violand, Alice L#, Martha Lou Gundelach and Mildred Corner, Developing Insight in Initial Interviews. New York: Family Service Society of America, 1914-7• 5k- PP* D.


Green, Rose, ”Sustaining Case Work,” Unpublished Paper delivered at Asilimar, September 1949* Southwest Pacific Regional Conference of Family Service Associa­ tion of America.



Application form 1. Case name 2. Case number 3* Date l\.» Address Members of family



a. Husband

6. 7* 8# 9* 10. 11*

12# 13*

b. Wife c. Children How did you know of Family Service? Wife’s maiden name Previous marriage of husband Previous marriage of wife Others living in home Length of residence a. County b. State c» U« S• Religion How do you think we can be of help to you?


Client’s first contact with agency 1. How contact made 2. What client was requesting


Intake interview 1• Was direct reference made to the form by worker or client in the beginning of the interview? 2* Yfas the client able to assume responsibility in presenting his problem in the interview? 3* Is there any relation between the client’s problem as he wrote it on the form and as he presented it in the int ervi ew? Is there any indication that the form helped the client organize his thinking around his problem? 5* 'Was the client able to participate in the beginning of the interview?


Workers use of form 1* What diagnostic significance does the completed form have for the worker? a. Does form indicate client’s ability to organize thinking?

5o bm What indication of client*s ability to take

responsibility? c• What significance in unanswered questions? d* What indications of clients willingness to involve himself in situation? 2. Was the form used in defining the agency policies for the client?


SCHEDULE USED IN INTERVIEWING THE FIVE MEMBERS OF THE CASE WORK STAFF OF THE FAMILY SERVICE AGENCY IN LOS ANGELES 1 • Name 2* Do you feel the application form has diagnostic value for you in your understanding of the client? a# Do you think it can be an indication of the client’s ability to use case work help? b# Do you find it any assistance in determining the client’s eligibility for agency service? Cm Is it of value to you in defining for the client

the agency’s policies? 3• Do you find the application form of value in focusing the problem for discussion with the client? if. Do you feel the application form is a valid means of obtaining face sheet material? 5* Do you think we are e;xpecting too much in assuming the client can state his problem without knowing more about the agency and its function?


FAMILY SERVICE OF LOS ANGELES AREA Application for Service Last name


Address ___ How did you know of Family Service?


Members of family: Husband _______









Wife 1s maiden name Previous marriage of man Previous marriage of woman Others living in home ____ Length of residence:;


UNITED STATES Religion _________________ How do you think we can be of help to you?