Models and Methods For Helping Vulnerable Populations

When someone calls alcoholism or childhood obesity a social disease, they are describing a social problem, but they are using medical terms, models and methods while looking at the society and its issues. The medical model is a scientific model that uses scientific methods of collecting, examining, and treating data. It then uses another set of methods to make predictions about the future. The model is an individualized model that developed when people were dealing with issues of individuals, not societies, or even large groups of people.

Model social work also uses social models. These models focus on groups of people and social contexts. They look at phenomena, not diseases.

The roots in the differences between medical and social models come from the differences in the philosophies of individualism and socialism. In the United States, social work was based on the psycho-dynamic theory. The theory explains behaviour in terms of conscious and subconscious choices. It allowed social workers and volunteers in the United States to get closely involved with individuals that they were helping. It was this way of work that led to the medical model becoming extremely popular in the field of social work in the 1970s.

Here is an example that illustrates the difference of approaches. The medical model looks at childhood obesity at an individual level. In this model, a child receives a diagnosis followed by a variety of treatments that may include surgery, counselling, medications, and education about various foods.

Social models and their approach are very different. They see childhood obesity as a result of a much broader issue, which is food industry regulations and policies such as adding sugars to processed foods, creating and selling large portions of foods, and so on.

The two models are not mutually exclusive, which is why many government and communities are using both of them to work on issues and help those who need help.

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