When making a choice, decision makers have a mental image or frame of the decision situation, constructed through the selection, interpretation and organisation of information. The process of constructing decision frames in social work needs to be explicit, purposeful and free from bias, as the soundness of a decision depends on whether the frame reflects a full range of factors without the distorting effects of unfounded beliefs. The structuring of an otherwise random array of information requires the active involvement of clients and other stakeholders and will be considered to have three components: a picture of the situation, decision goals and a set of options. Decision framing and professional social work assessment both aim to develop an understanding of the client’s situation. Although having many issues in common, decision framing specifically focuses on the decision situation and is not restricted to a preliminary stage of the social work process as assessment sometimes is.
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