The Case of Irene Harper and the Implications for Social Work and Other Helping Professionals


  • AJ Goodman Texas State University BSW Student


This paper aims to highlight the importance of strengths-based work with clients and how social workers and other helping professionals may become aware of and utilize a variety of strategies to advocate for their clients. When working with vulnerable and at-risk populations, helping professionals must uplift and enable their clients for positive outcomes.

Irene Harper presented herself to the emergency room with food poisoning. Mrs. Harper believed her symptoms were flu-related, would subside, and chose not to seek immediate medical attention. Mrs. Harper was admitted first, then her husband, Mr. Harper. They were negatively impacted by consuming wild mushrooms, which contain amatoxins that can deteriorate the liver resulting in toxic hepatitis (Mayo Clinic, 2021). The Harper family’s strengths include their support for each other and adaptability in high-stress situations to change their environment. The Harpers’ strengths are hindered by a lack of access to proper nutrition. This barrier has created a push-and-pull event, where the strength overextends resulting in robust, secondary challenges. The Harper family’s secondary challenges are their admittance to the emergency room and interactions with social services. Social workers must identify strengths and challenges in collaboration with their clients to better assist them through the helping process.






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