The principle of subsidiarity in interaction between social worker and client

Donata Petružytė, Sigita Girdzijauskienė, Lijana Gvaldaitė


Subsidiarity expresses a very simple but essential idea which we often support even without knowing it. The idea is: every person or organization, having a bigger power has to help those who have less power in that way that this wouldn’t hurt freedom but would rather stimulate individual’s independence. Subsidiarity is adopted in many different fields (management, politics, education system, etc.). It is considered a universal principle that can be applied in all forms of social life. Therefore the aim of this research was to find out how the principle of subsidiarity can be applied in a social work area, speaking about an interaction between the social worker and the client. Seven respondents took part in this research (from Lithuania, Germany, Italy and USA): social work practitioners and social work specialists, acting in a scientific field. Research results indicated that the basic principle of subsidiarity in interaction between social worker and client is the integral attitude towards the other human being with emphasis of his dignity and value. According to subsidiarity principle the aim of the social worker is to help the client in solving his problems in self-sufficient way, with making full use of his and his environment potential. Social workers, working towards this aim, select the methods, which would support creating relations of solidarity among the client and the other people (for instance, self-supporting groups, family involvement, etc). On the other hand, the client’s and his environment’s empowerment takes more time, efforts, professional skills, etc. The final conclusion is that the application of the subsidiarity principle is useful and meaningful, since, it provides every participant with respect in of the process of help and support, it answers their needs better and the results achieved are more long-lasting.


social work; interaction with client; principle of subsidiarity

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789