Any social work professional, or anyone who has a background in either education, psychology, or sociology would find it very hard to disagree with Joel S. Kanter, as he is one of the main proponents of task-based interventions in a variety of fields aside from social work. In this particular paper, he...
Any social work professional, or anyone who has a background in either education, psychology, or sociology would find it very hard to disagree with Joel S. Kanter, as he is one of the main proponents of task-based interventions in a variety of fields aside from social work. In this particular paper, he discusses what he deems the"indications and counter-indications" of applying this intervention model within the delimitations first proposed by Reid and Shyne (1969) who first proposed the model after conducting exhaustive empirical studies in clients of different levels of psychological dysfunction to determine who would best benefit from what task-based interventions have to offer.
It is precisely in the limitations, delimitation and parameters of the model where some level of controversy may surface. For example, Reid and Epstein are quoted when they said that
[the] model is not designed to treat neurosis, character disorder, alcoholism, drug addiction and the like (p. 229)
Even though Kanter agrees to a degree with this, and has good reasons, there is room to argue that. There is nowhere in the literature that indicates any research on individuals that fit those profiles and, yet, are completely capable of doing task-based activities because half of them do not even consider themselves alcoholics, character dissonant, nor neurotic. One must question whether a high-functioning alcoholic, for example, should be denied task-based therapy on the basis of his alcoholism alone. Many people could be considered alcoholic by the typical standards proposed by Al-Anon but many people choose not to get help precisely because they have figured out a way to work around their chronic disease.
How about people who are bipolar but are also able to compensate their ups and downs with other behaviors who are not destructive nor put them in danger. The point is: many individuals may be actually mentally ill without even knowing it and yet they can be high functioning and follow tasks quite well. Hence, they may even benefit from task--based therapy. Think about how borderline personality disorder sufferers (who often deny what they suffer from- think the recent killings of partners such as Scott Peterson, Jodi Arias and other criminals who completely refuse to accept responsibility) often show a co-morbidity with obsessive compulsive disorder that actually puts them quite high in terms of high achievement.
Kanter argues that the reason why these clients will not benefit is because most of their problems began too early in life, making them innately insecure and unable to express the emotions the way that they need to express them in order to get help. Yet, once again, there are two sides to everything and, again, there is no indication in the paper that points to the high functioning mentally-ill individuals, nor high functioning alcoholics.
If anything, perhaps a task-based intervention is the perfect solution to someone who is already good at performing and completing tasks. The intervention can always be tweaked for the specific needs of the client, like the article clearly showed. Moreover, if it is differentiated it may tap on things that have never been previously explored, such as the client's ability to succeed and the influence of such success in their future behaviors.