Essay on the Relationship Development and Power Imbalances

Power Imbalances and a Developing Social Worker/Client Relationship.
I had been engaged by an Independent Fostering Agency as an Independent Social Worker to support one of their single Foster Parents who had been accused by her eight year old birth son of striking him. My intervention began after the birth child had been removed to the care of his non-domicile father and a fostered child had been relocated to a respite home. She was alone in the house and felt unable to discuss the situation with any friend or relative.
In my previous placements I had been interested in the development of relationship and the disclosure of personal information – particularly in a time of open social media and the free access to on-line information. I noted the way the client/worker relationship developed within a formal context until what seemed a point of disclosure. This point was met when, having kept my personal history restrained in a professional capacity, the client gleaned personal information form the internet and from conversations with persons she thought knew me.
In addition to DeVito’s six stage relationship development, which I consider in detail below, I initially considered the empirical experience in a variety of theories of social intervention and relationships such as Berger and Calabrese’s Uncertainty Reduction Theory; Huston and Burgess’ Social Exchange Theory; Mead’s Symbolic Interaction Theory involving shared meaning of Society, Self and Mind; and Leon Festinger’s theory of Cognitive Dissonance. These theories did not account for the power imbalances and the layered effect of personality and relationship that I had noted in the developing relationship and her progressive personal disclosures that I wished to consider.
I therefore decided to compare the development of the relationship with Social Penetration theory as I wish to consider the power imbalances and a change that this theory may describe. However, I also wished to incorporate...