SOCW Responses – CASE STUDY: Working With Individuals With Disabilities: Valerie

CASE STUDY: Working With Individuals With Disabilities: Valerie

Working With Clients With Disabilities: The Case of Valerie Valerie is a 56-year-old, heterosexual, African American female. She receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and works part time at a credit card company as a telemarketer. She currently lives in an apartment alone but receives home attendant services for 5 hours a day. She lost her left leg when she was hit by a car and has a prosthesis. She uses a walker or an electric scooter to be ambulatory but generally prefers the scooter. She is slightly overweight, which makes using the walker more painful. She has been prescribed Zoloft® (100 mg per day) for general anxiety and has been taking it for almost 3 years. Valerie has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, although she has been drug free for 15 years. She has a core group of friends she has maintained a relationship with over the course of her lifetime, and although she does not see them as often as she would like, she keeps in touch over the phone and through email. She has no criminal background. Valerie came for services to address unresolved feelings related to an abusive marriage. She continued to be in contact with her ex-husband, John, although they had been divorced for almost 13 years. Valerie said that she and John had remained intimate since the separation and divorce and that John texted and called her to meet for sex. She felt torn because she believed no one else would want to date her due to her disability but also felt John was using her. She also stated that although he had stopped hitting her, he continued to be verbally abusive. She remained anxious and depressed and felt hopeless about the situation. Valerie said John abused alcohol and began using drugs in the first few years of their marriage. Unaware of his illicit drug use, Valerie arrived home from work early one day to surprise him and found him using cocaine. John attacked her and forced her to use cocaine as well. She relented due to her fear of continued assault. An ongoing pattern of drug use and physical assault persisted throughout their marriage. Valerie lost her left leg when she was walking across the street and was hit by a car, and she spent close to 9 months in the hospital and a rehabilitation program. She was fitted for a prosthetic leg and given an electric scooter through her insurance company, which allowed her to begin working part time at a credit card company when she returned home. John’s abusive behavior and drug use continued, so Valerie hid her paychecks, slowly saving her money until she had enough to leave. Eventually, she was able to rent a room. In addition, she was able to secure the assistance of a home health aide. Valerie began individual and group sessions to address her feelings of depression and anxiety. I worked with her to set manageable goals to increase her independence in physical functioning and from her ex-husband’s controlling and abusive behaviors. Valerie and I agreed to use cognitive behavioral therapy to address her continued negative thought patterns that affected her behavior. Valerie shared many insights into her disability to help me understand how she felt in a world that was not very accessible. Through our meetings, I learned about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how inaccessible buildings and programs affected her quality of life. We met once a week for 3 months, and I monitored Valerie’s depression through a baseline and then periodic administrations of a depression screen using the Beck Depression Inventory. After 12 weeks, we decided together it was time for termination. She reported fewer episodes of anxiety and expressed feelings of hope for the future. She continued to attend the group sessions and found new friends who had become a support network for her. She had stopped seeing her ex-husband and changed her phone number to prevent him from contacting her. 

Response 1

Respond to at least two colleagues by refuting or supporting either your colleagues’ analysis of the marginalization and oppression of individuals with disabilities or supporting or refuting their analysis of the role of the social worker in working with clients with disabilities. Use at least one reference per colleague.

Colleague 1: D

According to the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), “it is estimated that there are more than 600 million people with disability in the world (WHO). This represents between 18 and 20% of the world’s population. When the impact on families and careers is also considered, approximately 25% of the world’s population is affected by disability. There is a strong correlation of impairment and aging, hence it is estimated that the incidence of disability will rise as the baby-boomer generation age” (People with disabilities, 2012).

“Social workers work with individuals with a disability, with families who have a child or family member with a disability as well as with communities both domestically and internationally. Our work in these spheres encompasses, direct practice, group work, community development, policy practice, research and advocacy. Social workers have played key roles in the development of antidiscrimination legislation, policies that support persons with disability and the development of disability programs. Social workers work alongside people with disabilities and families to realize social inclusion, community living, employment, family support, and rehabilitation. A policy statement on persons with disability therefore is a key platform for IFSW” (People with disabilities, 2012).

In the case study Working With Individuals With Disabilities: Valerie, the social worker treated Valerie as any other (able-bodied) client. She listened to Valerie’s concerns and reasons for reaching out and then created goals for them to work on and the most pressing issues to address. The social worker describes a traumatizing memory for Valerie, which brings insight to the conflicting position she is in. The fact that Valerie was smart enough to make a plan and get herself out of the abusive situation is definitely praise worthy in sessions. To make sure Valerie knows her worth and celebrates the victories of her decisions is part of a social worker’s job. This points out other attributes and breaks her from any mold of being disabled. Valerie also took it upon herself to reach out and get help for her depression and anxiety on multiple occasions including this one. Also, recognizing the struggles and allowing Valerie a safe place to discuss how she feels as someone with some physical challenges in a world created for non-disabled people, allowed Valerie to feel safe and confident and recognize that while there are often challenges, they are not obstacles she cannot over come, especially considering what she has already overcome in her past.

People with disabilities | International Federation of Social Workers. (2012).

Retrieved July 2016, from

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen S. M. (Eds.). (2014). Social work case studies:

Foundation year. Retrieved from

“Working With Clients With Disabilities: Valerie”

Wendell, S. (2013). The Social Construction of Disability. In M. Adams, W. J.

Blumenfeld, C. Castaneda, H. W. Hackman, M. L. Peters, & X. Zuniga (Eds.), Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (3rd ed., pp. 26-34). New York, NY: Routledge.

Colleague 2: J

People with disabilities back then were hidden in silence. They were put in iinstitution and segregated from society and hidden in the public. People with disabilities were placed in large institutions where they remained cut off from family, isolated from society and subjected to brutal treatment. Society marginalized people with disabilities because they were ashamed of them and didn’t think they were good enough. Some of the segregation was for religious reasons people with disabilities were considered possessed by evil. Social workers have various roles in working with people with disabilities it is their job to empower people and help people with disabilities overcome obstacles. The social workers job is to show people with disabilities resources, programs and provide living arrangements if needed and help them live a normal life. Social workers are strategically positioned to develop, implement, and advocate for policies, programs, services and research that supports and benefits people with disabilities ( ifsw,2016). In the case of Valerie she is a disabled African American with a prosthetic leg, although she is disabled she lives a normal life just suffers from depression. It is best in this case for the social worker to empower Valerie and identify her strengths.

People with disabilities (2012). Retrieved July,27, 2016. from Quote Email Author

Response 2

Respond to a colleague’s post by offering a reason as to why his or her identified myths are so prevalent and persistent. Please use the Learning Resources to support your answer with at least one reference.

Colleague 1: L

Rape myth is the belief that the women are somewhat responsible for what the perpetrator has done. Rape myth has become a normal thing in today’s society and we are hearing more and more myths about young victims. The myths of sexual violence I think are most harmful are all the myths used to make the victim feel they are to blame. Rape is seen as a consequence of attitudes toward women that are intimately intertwined throughout the culture (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman). There are various of myths that are use and need to be examined and corrected to not be used at all.

The most common used rape myths are: women ask for it by the way they dress or the places they go, women never mean no, women lie about being rape following a regretful night of consensual sex, and women enjoy or are sexually aroused by raped. No matter what a women or male is doing there is no excuse for someone being rape. Rape myths will continue to be a big part of world as long as we allow the blame to be put on the victims and society and the justice system judge the victim and not hold the perpetrator responsible.


Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2016). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (10th ed.). Boston, MA: CengageLearning.
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