The Indian Journal of Social Work, Vol. XXV, No. 3 (October 1964). A P...
The Indian Journal of Social Work, Vol. XXV, No. 3 (October 1964).
A P P L I C A B I L I T Y O F S E L E C T E D
C O N S U L T A T I O N C O N C E P T S T O
JAMES. M SENIOR*
C O M M U N I T Y D E V E L O P M E N T
James M. Senor, M.S.A., A.C.S.W., heads the Community Organization
and Social Agency Administration sequence at the Syracuse University Graduate
School of Social Work. He has worked for two years in India, and most
recently was Country Deputy Director, Iran, American Joint Distribution
Committee. He helped to organise and taught at the Tehran School of
Based upon his experience, particularly overseas, Mr. Senor has attempted
to examine the applicability of selected consultation concepts to community
carried on is considered relatively new in the
field of community organization social work.
In discussing community development one While it is true that the British Colonial
is struck by its newness and vastness—vastness
Office and some American, British and
of need and vastness of scope.
French voluntary (mainly religious-oriented)
More than half of the world's population agencies have been conducting similar or the
live in the under-developed countries.1 Eighty same activities on a limited scale for several
percent of this number are to be found in decades, it only has been since the end of
the three to five million villages and rural World W a r II that this field has blossomed,
districts of such countries.2 India alone has has become comprehensive in content4 and
an estimated 550,000 villages in which exist national and international in scope. T h e
8 5 % of its 400 million people.3 Most of circumstances of many countries becoming
these rural inhabitants live under conditions independent and others reacting to the impact
of poverty, disease, misery and illiteracy that of industrialization and exposure to the out-
are hardly imaginable to those who have side world has markedly stimulated its growth.
not witnessed them first-hand. Much of life
As H a r p e r and D u n h a m observed a few
in these underdeveloped and newly-develop-
ing nations is far more wretched than in the
T h e emergence of 'Community Develop-
industrially more advanced and economically
ment' in respect to newly-developing or
more privileged societies. Compounding their
so-called technically less developed areas
plight is that those most in need are least
has been the most exciting trend in inter-
able to do anything about it.
national social welfare, directly related to
Yet in spite of the overwhelming needs,
community organization, within the last
community development ( C D ) as it is now
*James M. Senor, M.S.A., A.C.S.W., heads the Community Organization and Social Agency
Administration sequence at the Syracuse University Graduate School of Social Work.
1 "Community Development" in Social Work Year Book
edited by Russell Kurtz ,
p . 180. ( 1 5 ) .
2William J. Cousins, "Communit y Development in West Bengal" in Community
September, 1959, p. 40. ( 9 ) .
3Russell Kurtz , op. cit.
4 Irwi n T. Sanders, editor, Community Development and National Change,
p. 3. ( 1 8 ) .
5 Ernest B. Harpe r and Arthu r Dunham , Community Organization in Action,
p. 501 . ( 1 1 ) .
J A M E S M . S E N O R
Perhaps it is because of its recent and have been selected for consideration:
very rapid growth that one is able to find (1) the maneuvering of the consultant into
so little about consultation in community a supervisory role;
(2) direct involvement of
development, or the applicability of consul-
the consultant in the consultee's
tation concepts to the field. Whatever the (3) determining the duration and termina-
reason may be, however, it is disappointing tion of consultation.
to find in a review of the literature little on
These concepts will be discussed against the
consultation in rural settings6 and almost backdrop of some of the more important
nothing on consultation in CD. It is not a problems, characteristics and aspects of the
case of consultation not being practised or professional practice of community develop-
needed in community development. Quite the ment. To what extent are these ideas valid
contrary. F r o m his studies, his experiences7 in the CD milieu? Must they be modified,
with, and observations8 of consultation in and if so, in what way? What are the
community development, the author is aware particular forces, goals, and conflicts in CD
of its widespread use. T h e very nature of which would influence modification or make
this field and its practitioners demand such possible or doubtful their applicability?
Before turning to a discussion of these
questions and the specific concepts, however,
T h e CD worker must deal with a variety and hopefully to shed some illumination on
of problems, and be knowledgeable and the meshing of consultation in community
skilled in many areas: health and sanitation, development, some definitions and general
education, housing, and agriculture, to n a m e comments are in order.
a few. He is not a specialist, but must depend
on specialists for advice, education, process II. DEFINITIONS AND GENERAL C O M M E N T S
analysis, stimulation and help in interpreta-
Consultation has been
tion.9 As Louis Miniclier has emphasized, defined as a "helping process which involves
community development requires the use of the use of technical knowledge and professio-
the knowledge and skills of the specialists— nal relationships with one or more persons.
several specialist fields must in fact be inte-
Its purpose is to help consultees carry out
grated in its practice.10
their professional responsibilities more
Without belaboring the need for or utiliza-
tion of consultation in CD, this paper
B. Community Development.
attempts to discuss applicability of consulta-
nity development is a method and a process
tion concepts in this field. Three concepts which involves (1) participation of villagers
6 C D settings for th e most par t are rura l rathe r tha n urban , with the economy built on
agriculture rather than industry. This paper takes cognizance of CD going on in urban
slum areas, but as it represents but a small proportion of the activity in the field, it is
not considered here. T h e application of consultation concepts to urban community
development in underdeveloped lands would be different from those in the more common
7American Joint Distribution Committee—Iran .
8 I r a n i a n Re d Lion and Sun (Re d Cross) , Unite d States A.I.D . (Point I V ) , an d U.N.I.C.E.F .
programs, and American Joint Distribution Committee in Europe and Israel.
9 Some of th e responsibilities of consultants as seen by Edward O. Moe , "Consulting wit h
a Community System: A Case Study" in The Journal of Social Issues,
Vol. X V , 1959,
pp..28-35. ( 1 7 ) .
10Louis Miniclier, "Introduction " in Community Development Review,
March , 1957, p. 1. ( 5 ) .
11 Virginia Insley, "Social Wor k Consultation in Public Health " in Concepts of Mental
Health in Consultation
edited by Gerald Caplan. Pp. 215-216 ( 1 1 ) .
APPLICABILITY OF SELECTED CONSULTATION C O N C E P T S TO C O M M U N I T Y D E V E L O P M E N T 263
in determining particular goals and in plan-
workers. He is assumed to have h a d training
ning and working toward their achievement, for his responsibilities, and as pointed out
and (2) a change or development agent sent earlier, is expected to be multi-skilled. His
in by a sponsor agency from outside the depth of skill, however, is shallow in most
village; together these two (villagers and if not all of the fields and disciplines.
development agent) direct their efforts
T h e villagers
are the third in the trio of
toward the satisfaction of felt economic, participants. In most emerging countries they
social political a n d / o r cultural needs of the represent a majority in numbers though they
villagers. These may be p a r t of or related are not dominant in power.13 In the relation-
to needs and objectives of the nation as ship with the other two participants, it is
determined by the sponsor agency.
interesting to note that the initiative of
There are three general service comes from outside—the sponsor
classes of participants in community develop-
organization sends in the change agent to the
ment : the sponsor organization, the professio-
villages. "Few community development
nal worker (or change or development agent)
projects," as Stensland has noted, "start with
and the inhabitants of the village.
spontaneous combustion. Some outside forces
T h e sponsor organization
is either the have been there to suggest an idea, spark
government (or one of its political subdivi-
enthusiasm, provide guidance, even give
sions) ; a foreign government (as the United direct assistance."14 This is a significant
States A.I.D. p r o g r a m ) ; the home country difference from other sub-fields of community
government of an occupying or colonial power work practice where local citizens initiate
(as the United Kingdom's program in steps, solve their problems and them-
Kenya) ; an intergovernmental body (as the selves recruit the agent, and different also
United N a t i o n s ) ; or a foreign voluntary from most other fields of social work practice
agency (as the American Friends Service where initiative for obtaining help resides
in the client.
Sponsorship involves a complex of commit-
Where does the consultant fit?
ments and actions by the sponsor organization,
pattern is that the consultant is an employee
the most important of which are the establish-
of the sponsor organization in a "staff" (as
ment of long-range goals, setting basic policy, contrasted to a "line") position in the
financing (at least in part) and recruiting, administrative hierarchy. Because the emer-
training and sending in the development ging countries are woefully short of trained
agent to the village.
personnel, the consultant is likely to be a
foreigner; this is invariably true with foreign
T h e development agent
in this discussion sponsorship and not uncommon under a
is the consultee. He is invariably a native12 government sponsorship. Although he is in-
if the sponsor is the government; sponsor terested in individual adjustment, the consul-
organizations originating outside of the tant is more concerned with environmental
country use both native and foreign-born manipulation and activities of large numbers
1 2 But he probably is not rural-born . As has been pointed out by Isobel Kelly, native-born
technicians and development workers are urban-bred and educated, often are unfamiliar
with the culture of the rural residents, and may require an orientation to the cultural
diversification of their own country. "Technical Cooperation and the Culture of the Host
Country" in Community Development Review,
September 1959, p. 3. ( 1 0 ) .
1 3 Lucien W. Pye, "Communit y Development as Part of Political Development," in Community
March, 1958, p. 2. ( 7 ) .
14Per G. Stensland, " U r b a n Community Development, " ibid.,
p. 33 ( 8 ) .
J A M E S M . S E N O R
of people. He is more likely to be involved that special steps must be taken to avoid the
in program than case consultation.
supervisor's role when rendering consultation
to social workers who lack supervision,17 and
I I I . D I S C U S S I O N
again, " I n program consultation as in case
Being maneuvered into a supervisory role.
consultation the consultant must avoid being
One of the unique aspects of community drawn into a supervisory role by his own
development practice is the isolation of the needs or those of the consultee".18
CD worker-consultee. His isolation is social,
Yet under the circumstances noted above,
cultural and professional as well as geogra-
the consultant in a CD setting should expect
phical. Regardless of the distance from the a consultee to turn to him for direction as
metropolitan center, he is physically far away well as advice, for the handling of a whole
in travel time because of poorly-developed range of problems—supervisory, administra-
or non-existent transportation facilities and tive and personal, as well as programmatic.
the difficulty of travel.
Insley indicates t h a t if problems arise by such
He is better educated and culturally a shift of role in the consultative relationship,
(artistically) more sophisticated than those they are the result of the consultant assuming
whom he works amongst, and he is not apt or allowing himself to be maneuvered into a
to find m a n y in the rural district who share supervisory role.19
his personal and social interests. There are
T h e view in this paper is that the nature
no colleagues alongside with whom he can of community development practice makes
share his experiences and problems. Contacts almost inevitable the blurring of the role of
with his supervisor and administrator are the consultant; that he should anticipate this;
infrequent, and he must work for long that he should permit his being maneuvered
periods of time on his own.15
into a supervisory or other role provided it
It is not unexpected, therefore, that the is limited and assuming that this shift and
worker should look forward with more its implications have been previously discussed
enthusiasm to a visit from a consultant than with the administration; and that he should
his counterpart consultee in the more be aware of the role alteration that is taking
developed Western lands. T h e latter is seen place.
not just in the role of a consultant, he is
someone to talk to and socialize with,
Direct involvement of the consultant in the
someone to complain to and for the purposes consultee's program.
of our discussion, he is someone to relate to
Direct involvement is another shift in the
as a supervisor.
consultant's role, but one that is more clear-
Virginia Insley has repeatedly cautioned cut. It is collaborative with the consultee and
the consultant from becoming involved in focuses on the development program, or a
supervision. She emphasizes that the "super-
particular phase of it. It is quite common in
visory responsibility is incompatible with the CD because of the special characteristics of
maintenance of a consultative relationship,"16
this field; significant among these, and major
1 5 "America n Friends Service Committee , Selected Findings and Queries, " Community Develop-
M a r c h , 1957. p. 34 ( 4 ) .
1 6 Virgini a Insley, op. cit.,
1 7 Ibid., p.
1 8 Virgini a Insley, "Progra m Consultation" in Concepts of Mental Health in Consultation
edited by Gerald Caplan, p. 239. ( 1 3 ) .
1 9 Virgini a Insley, "Social Work Consultation in Public Health, " op. cit.,
APPLICABILITY OF SELECTED CONSULTATION C O N C E P T S TO C O M M U N I T Y D E V E L O P M E N T 265
reasons for direct involvement, are the
Furthermore, solving a problem or reaching
apathy-need dilemma of t h e villagers, the a particular goal assumes greater proportions
essentiality of initiative coming from outside as the resolution of other problems or the
the village as has been noted, and the attainment of other goals await upon the
emphasis on goal achievement.
first. Community development is complicated
by the fact that so many facets of village life
A dilemma in CD is that the individuals and problems of development are inextricably
and communities most in need of develop-
related one to another.
mental undertakings are the ones most want-
ing in sufficient internal and external resources
T h e experience of the Indian "Grow More
to take steps to alleviate their condition. Food Campaign" illustrates this interrelated-
Shacked by apathy, poverty, and illiteracy, ness.20 Increasing agricultural production
lacking the skills to undertake improvements, would help solve core problems of hunger
and with initiative dormant, they engage in for the country and poverty of the farmers.
a development project only after they have This depended not only on education and
been motivated by an outside agent, after involvement of the farmers, but on the intro-
the village power structure has sanctioned duction of fertilizer and seeds. Money was
it, and after they have been shown how. T h e needed to buy fertilizer, so a plan of rural
level of skill and knowledge of m a n y of the credit was needed. Seeds did not do well
change agents precludes his doing all of his because of an inadequate water supply. Fields
alone. A worker may be able to stimulate the could not be harvested as malaria was
people to participate in an immunization endemic. Whatever increased output resulted
program, and to gain the acquiescence of the could not be maximized because of poor roads
village elders, but he will need the assistance to market. And so it went.
of the consultant in explaining the details
and consequences. In this type of involvement
With so m u c h depending on the resolution
by the consultant, it appears t h a t the villagers of a particular problem, it is not unexpected
along with the worker become part of the that the consultee will overtly or covertly
attempt to draw in the consultant and get
him to participate directly in the program.
A further cause for direct involvement is
It has been suggested by Insley that assisting
the importance of and the emphasis upon the consultee in carrying out a recommenda-
goal achievement. While process
is vital in tion or program objective is a legitimate
C D , it heavily underscores problem-solving,
consultative responsibility.21 In case consul-
accomplishing the objectives. Solving a parti-
tation Caplan has cautioned against the
cular problem may be a decisive factor in consultant's involvement and his becoming
whether CD can continue to operate. T h e too concerned with the results. For community
consultee, consequently, needs all the resource development these views would be emphasized
help he can muster. If a consultant is on the or amended to the point of asserting that
scene or can be called in, it is not unlikely the consultant frequently
that an attempt will be m a d e to involve him involved with the client system (villagers)
directly where this involvement will make on program and has an attachment to the
possible or contribute to the attainment of results, that is, works with the consultee
toward goal achievement.
2 0 Grac e E. Langley, "Communit y Development Programme—Republi c of I n d i a " in Community
September, 1957, pp. 11-12 ( 6 ) .
2 1 Virginia Insley, "Progra m Consultation" , op. cit.,
J A M E S M . SENOR
Determining the Duration and Termina-
not be soon. He cannot risk "delaying inter-
tion of Contact
vention until the moment of crisis". He won't
be around at the time of crisis and by his
Determining the duration and termination next visit it would long since have been
of contact with the consultee is a concept dealt with one way or another, and anxiety
that must be tempered by the characteristics arising from it drained off in one form or
of isolation referred to above. T h e duration another.
of a consultant's visit is determined less by
his interaction with the consultee, and more
On a tour of villages with a public health
by the realities of a bus schedule, or in how nursing consultant long experienced in deve-
many days the next plane is due to leave lopment programs in emerging lands, the
a neighbouring town.
author marvelled at her capacity to "trigger"
Caplan discusses timing of the termination or induce readiness when the consultee was
in terms of a resolution of the problem, reticent. A consultant in this type of setting
delaying intervention until the moment of cannot afford not to press for facts and the
crisis and arranging a second visit "to play expression of feelings. Time is limited. If the
next bus is tomorrow and not another for a
2 2 Insley advises the consultant not
to press for facts and feelings, to take his week the consultant cannot wait.
time, to wait until the consultee is ready
In short, the consultant in community
to talk.23 T h e gist of these principles seems development must be sensitive to the extent
to be t h a t duration, intervention;, timing and which the special circumstances and cha-
termination are determined by the consulta-
racteristics of underdevelopment will deter-
tion process. In CD, however, one can assert mine duration, point of intervention and
only that these are influenced to some extent
by the process, and the use the consultant
makes of it. Often they are more influenced
by the characteristics of underdeveloped
countries—inadequate travel facilities, T h e field of community development in
distances between villages and the paucity of community organization social work is
consultation personnel which requires still relatively new; it is vast in scope in terms
further limitation on the amount of time they of the numbers of peoples it is or should be
can allocate to any one place.
concerned with; and there is a parallel
vastness in the h u m a n , communal and
A consultant will have a set period of time, societal needs which it seeks to
usually a few days or a week in a village—
and the consultee is aware of this. Whatever
Consultation is a helping process exten-
help he is going to give must be rendered sively used and essential in the practice of
then. Coming back soon for a second visit CD. Because of the unique aspects of the
is too rigorous, even assuming that the latter and the special characteristics and
administration would permit the concentra-
problems of emerging nations, however, m a n y
tion of so scarce a resource in one location.
of the concepts of consultation as developed
This is not to suggest that the consultant in the Westernized practice of social work
is finished with the village after one visit. and public health must be modified or
He can return, but in all likelihood it will jettisoned in their application to C D .
2 2 Gerald Caplan , op. cit.,
pp . 123-27.
2 3 Virginia Insley, op. cit.,
"Social Work Consultation in Public Health" , p. 226.
APPLICABILITY OF SELECTED C O N S U L T A T I O N C O N C E P T S TO C O M M U N I T Y D E V E L O P M E N T 267
In this paper three consultation concepts It remains an essential factor, but the
have been briefly examined. All three are characteristics of underdeveloped countries,
applicable to community development but including isolation of the village and back-
must be modified in their application. While ward transportation facilities and roads also
the consultant in more orthodox settings strongly influence the duration and termina-
should avoid being maneuvered into a tion of contact.
supervisory role, he should expect to be
* * *
maneuvered in m a n y CD settings and should
It is recognized t h a t this exploration of
permit it under certain circumstances. T h e the applicability of consultation concepts to
nature of CD makes almost inevitable the community development does not exhaust,
blurring of the consultant's role; he should it barely scratches, the list of consultation
anticipate this, be sensitive to it, and discuss concepts which may have to be modified in
it with the administration beforehand.
this type of practice. Among them are the
Direct involvement in the consultee's conscious use of crisis and anxiety in cultures
program is not usual in Western social work where they are not easily evoked or often
practice, but in the CD activity of under-
expressed; the acceptance of the government
developed societies the consultant should or foreign consultant where outsiders are
recognize its prevalence. While process is looked upon with suspicion, and where their
vital in C D , goal-achievement often takes a role expectation by t h e villager and often
higher priority; in striving toward it the of the native-born CD practitioner is t h a t
consultee and his client system, the villagers, of an exploiter, not a helper; and the effect
will expect and induce the direct involvement
of the cultural factor of predeterminism
of the consultant in seeking the maximization
upon the function of consultation, a function
of their objectives.
which requires the exercise of free will.
Determining the duration and termina-
T h e exploration of these and other
tion of contact depends less on the concepts deserve further exploration in other
consultant's use of the consultation process and future papers, as do the ideas examined
than would be true in the Western world. in this one.