Virginia Robinson, “Analysis of Processes in the Records of Family Case Working Agencies,” 1921

Virginia Robinson was a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work for many years, an advocate of therapeutic approaches to child placement, and an adoptive parent. She raised two children with her partner, Jessie Taft.

Like any profession which is founded on scientific method, social casework must move through three stages: (1) observation and assembling of its facts, (2) hypothetical interpretation of these facts, and (3) control of the facts for new ends. . . .

To differentiate social case treatment in the technical sense from the more or less haphazard, unscientific, but kindly and often very helpful “influencing,” “guiding,” “helping out” process which goes on wherever human beings associate is a task in which case workers must make some headway if case work is to take rank with the professions which are firmly founded in scientific method. . . .

In the field of medicine, with a longer tradition and a wider experience than social work, there are certain commonly taught and accepted treatment processes for certain disease conditions. . . . Case workers have as yet no common basis of knowledge or technique so that they can merely indicate a line of treatment in symbolic terms and expect all case workers will understand what the worker was doing. . . .

The worker’s point of view, her philosophy of life, her own adjustment to life, are an essential part of her equipment and constitute part of her method in every piece of case work. But we are still in the stage of regarding these as personal factors in equipment and of wishing to exclude any recognition of them from our case records. A hang over of self-consciousness restrains us from mentioning ourselves in the case record. Is not our refusal to recognize and analyze these personal factors an indication of the subjectivity and not the objectivity of our present level of case work and of record writing? We will never succeed in objectifying these personal factors by ignoring them but rather by trying to record and analyze them as impartially as we do all the other factors that enter into treatment. Only when we have objectified and analyzed them to the same extent that we have the methods by which we manipulate the environment and when by so doing some of these processes have become standardized, can we afford to eliminate them from our records.

Source: Virginia P. Robinson, “Analysis of Processes in the Records of Family Case Working Agencies,” Family 2 (July 1921):101, 103, 105-106.
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