Circles of hell or circles of support? (Using the «person-in-environment» concept in social work practice)




social reintegration, veterans, state policy, state authorities, civil society organizations, cooperation


Modern trends in the development of client-centered approaches in social work, which rely on the client’s internal resources and his strengths, although they consider a person as an expert in his own life situation and one who is able to cope with life challenges, emphasize the influence of the environment in which the client is.

This paper is based on the theoretical analysis of the "person-in-environment" concept and reflection of the experience of using tools based on this concept in the authors’ structured interventions focused on the clients' strengths development.

The analysis of the academic literature confirmed that the “person-in-environment", developed in the 1980s, remains a popular concept of eco-system social work. It suggests considering the client's experience and life situation through the lenses of dependence on the external environment. An individual's environment affects how a person evaluates the surrounding reality and the processes occuring in their life, way of thinking, and behavior patterns in response to difficulties. From the viewpoint of this concept, the social work objective is to understand the needs and problems of clients through the study of environmental influences, finding and assessing the resourcefulness of social systems that affect the clients’ well-being, and working to strengthen them.

The "person-in-nvironment" concept is used to obtain a holistic view of the impact of the environment on clients, it can be applied  as a basis for practical interventions, focused on the use of strengths, which allows you to resist social pressure, to defend own interests and needs, and will strengthen faith in own ability. The experience of piloting of techniques based on the "person-in-environment" concept gives reason to say that they help clients to understand their dependence on environmental systems, to identify a "toxic environment", to realize the possibility of control over their own lives, to strengthen faith in their own strength and ability to make decisions about desired relationships in a person's life.

Author Biographies

Tetyana Semigina, National Qualifications Agency, Member of the Agency

National Qualifications Agency, Member of the Agency, Dr. in Political Science, Professor, Kiev

Olha Stoliaryk, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Lviv

Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Assistant Professor of the Department of Social Pedagogy and Social Work, PhD in Social Work, Lviv


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How to Cite

Semigina, T. ., & Stoliaryk, O. . (2023). Circles of hell or circles of support? (Using the «person-in-environment» concept in social work practice). Social Work and Education, 10(2), 178–194.