Social Diagnosis Mary E. Richmond's (1917) scholarly work, Social Diagnosis, is a 511 page comprehensive approach to social work at the beginning of the 20th century. This book provided a systematic framework for social work by formulating questionnaires concerning nearly every aspect of the profession to be used at the initiation of services. The author expressed the specific intent to provide common ground for all case workers so they could "develop a knowledge and mastery of those elements" (p. 5).
While a condensed version of the book is certainly beyond the scope of this paper, a brief summary is in order. Two appendices, a bibliography and a thorough index supplement the book's twenty-eight chapters. Richmond divided the book
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The last chapter and questionnaires are for supervisory reviewing of the caseworkers to make sure they met professional standards. Several areas Richmond (1917) dealt with can be seen as predicting social policy issues of today. The author's discussions of mental illness issues and self-reliance issues are prime examples that, for the sake of brevity, this paper uses to illustrate current social policy controversy. Social work programs that stress teaching social workers to provide psychotherapy have been attacked (Specht & Courtney, 1993), and social policies aimed at self-sufficiency have been construed as blaming victims for their problems (Hawkins, 2005). Richmond (1917) emphasized the social worker's responsibility to provide helpful services to people with mental illness and specifically ruled out using the questionnaire for this area as a tool for formulating a medical diagnosis. The author focused on taking a comprehensive history and stressed the importance of making decisions based on behavior as it occurs in the context of a person's life circumstances, rather than allowing decisions to be based on isolated incidents. Thus, while expressing a concern that the worker concentrate on being helpful as a