The purpose for this assignment is to highlight the main features of one social worker method. Within this essay, I will include social work intervention prior to the introduction of task-centred practice. This will provide an insight in to why task-centred methods were introduced. I will also portray the strengths and weaknesses of task-centred practice. The essay will also depict the underlying theory that underpins task-centred practice in relation to social work. I will endeavour to critically analyse the effectiveness of this approach.
I will then compare this approach with crisis intervention and provide an analysis of the similarities between them. Throughout this assignment I will incorporate anti-discriminative and anti-oppressive practice (ADP, AOP) not only within the model of task-centred and crisis work but with an overall view to social work practice and how oppression can be addressed. I will strive to provide a brief policy context of AOP and ADP. Due to the word limitation I have attached an appendix of a case study based upon task-centred, person-centred and crisis intervention.
Task-centred practice is a relatively new concept, in comparison to some social work methods, emerging in the 1960s. Prior to the implementation of task-centred practice, many clients received long-term intervention. Social workers focused on feelings rather than action. Buckle, (1981) in Coulshed & Orme (1998) state that: “ some clients received help for years and compulsive care-giving by helpers often resulted in the difficulties of becoming the responsibility and ‘property’ of the worker. ” I would suggest that this form of intervention could possibly lead to ‘learned-helplessness’.
This is when the client becomes dependant on the worker and rejects the notion that they can fend for themselves. M, Payne (1997) refers to an experiment conducted by Seligman (1975). Seligman’s theory of ‘learned helplessness’ came about through experimentation of animals and humans. He discovered that people with little expectations produced little results. He states: “ their capacity to learn useful behaviour in other situations becomes impaired. People lose motivation, become anxious and depressed and poor at thinking.
The concept of task-centred practice originated in the USA by Reid and Shyne (1969). Task-centred intervention came about through psychodynamic theories and the response opposed to them, as this method was time consuming, which may lead to dependency. I would therefore, suspect that the introduction of task-centred intervention would have been welcome one. Like crisis intervention, task-centred can be perceived as predictable and planned. Task-centred work was initially applied to group and family casework. In the early 1990s, Marsh and Doel wrote further on this subject.
This intervention was further developed within social work practice. Task-centred models can be utilized in conjunction with a variety of settings such as counselling and education (Stepney and Ford (2000). Couldshed and Orme (1998, pg 115) state ‘ task-centred practice, also known as brief therapy, short-term or contract work has had a significant impact on both social work practice and the organisation of services’. The fact that this method has been updated, by continues research provides evidence of its use in Social Work.
Stepney and Ford (1998, pg 52) argue how it ‘not only derives from research, but lends itself to research, insofar as it embodies the setting of goals whose achievement is easily measured. Consequently, the model has been developed and refined through numerous empirical studies in the past thirty years’. This type of research evidence provides social workers with a sound base and model of intervention, which is long standing and appropriate to use with most client groups. M. Payne (1997) explains that: “ task-centred work claims to be primarily a model, drawing on learning and cognitive ‘ theories’ validates its effectiveness.
He suggests that this enables the social worker to understand the importance of task-centred work, as it provides us with an insight into human behaviour. He states that the task centred model is “ a basis for learning about the world and being accepted within it. ” The basics of this method focus on problem-solving and short-term application. As Ford and Postle (1998, pg 52) suggest ‘The approach is designed to help in the resolution of difficulties that people experience in interacting with their social situations, where internal feelings of discomfort are associated with events in the external world’.
This statement may confirm that task-centred can be applied in most settings or interactions with any clients. Although some research evidence suggests it should only be used specifically in the following problem solving areas: ·Conflict within families or work related situations ·Young adults find themselves alone or away from home ·Problems with dealing with organisations ·Dealing with new roles, becoming a parent, new relationships ·Problems moving from one role or situation to another ·Illness or bereavement ·Unable to access material resources ·Behavioural problems
Reid cited in Ford and Postle, (2000) As a social worker dealing with any of the above situations, I would suggest that it is not the duty of the social worker to take responsibility for the clients’ problems. The problem must be recognised by the client in order for the social worker to work in collaboration with him/her Coulshed & Orme (1998). However, since being placed at a statutory organisation, for my 80-day-placement, working with children and families, I am now aware that in some circumstances, I have a statutory duty to investigate i. e. section 47 of the Children Act 1989, implemented in 1990.
CHECK M. Payne (1997) states that “ task-centred work is concerned with problems that: ·Clients acknowledge or accept; ·Can be resolved through actions taken outside contacts with workers; ·Can be defined clearly; ·Come from things that clients want to change in their lives; ·Come from ‘unsatisfied wants’ of the client rather than being defined from outsiders” However, in some circumstances, the client may be reluctant to participate. This may be due to court proceedings, in which the client has little choice, but to adhere to the conditions of the court, or face prosecution.
Under these circumstances, the client may accept the situation but may be reluctant to acknowledge or participate in the process, M. Payne (1997). If this situation arises then a task-centred approach may be futile and another approach such as person-centred may be more appropriate (Dole & Marsh 1992). A client may also appear reluctant to participate due to their preconceptions and ideologies about social workers. We would also have to take into consideration the individual attitude of the social worker. If the social worker appears abrupt, defensive or portrays signs of power then the client may also be reluctant.
Social workers also need to be aware of their own feelings and underlying prejudices and values before attempting to explore the interpersonal skills involved in building up client worker relationships. Reid (1992) suggests that: “ only acknowledged problems offer necessary degree of partnership. ” The basic structure of the intervention according to Coulshed and Orme (1998) is:
·Problem exploration involving clarification of issues and focusing on the most pressing ·Agreement between the client and SW as to the most pressing problem, which the SW then categorises by using the above list. Formulating an objective – classification of the problem by using the above list, which both parties will discuss and agree upon ·Termination – this is achieved by discussion from the onset of the intervention and clarification of the process throughout, such as time limitation and reflection on the success or failure of the approach by the social worker and client I would suggest that this method provides a framework of intervention. However, this does not provide the social worker with any description of how a task is to be achieved.
Task-centred intervention provides a structure to problem solving. However, there is little consideration of the clients’ ability to promote change and to achieve their or the social workers perceived goals. For example if we take a person suffering with mental health issues, they may not have the cognitive ability to be a willing participant. In order to assist in the process of addressing a problem, realistic goals have to be set between the social worker and the client, in order that the client is not set up to fail.
Reid (1978) states that: “the client’s acceptance of the final problem statement leads to a contract that will guide subsequent work. Both practitioner and client agree to work toward solution of the problem(s) as formulated. ” Therefore, if a young person has been shoplifting and a contract has been drawn up and agreed upon by both parties and the contract states that, the person has agreed not to offend during a set period; I would suggest that the social worker has not taken a holistic approach to the contract. As a social worker I believe that we have to look at why the young person shoplifted in the first instance.
This young person may have cultural influences and social implications like poverty or interacting within a peer group in order to fit in. This is why although there is a solid structure to this method it is still reliant on an approach, which has to include PCS analyse. It should also be noted that the abilities of the social worker to gain accurate information is a crucial factor in dealing with any client. In order to gain information-counselling skills may be applied. Carl Rogers (1951) laid great emphasis on the personal qualities of the counsellor (genuineness, ability to empathise, attitude to the ‘ client).
Rogers advocates a non-judgemental approach which focuses on personal growth therefore training in other interventions and skills are necessary. As Coulshed and Orme (1998) states: “the skills required of the workers included an ability to listen and grasp what the client was truly bothered about. to have the ability to renegotiate the contract or agreement. to act as an empowering partner, not just a service provider. to be explicit about time limits and to remind there client about ending the contract”. Although this appears lengthy, it does provide us with the basic skills needed while applying the task-centred method.
This is why it is a fundamental element is to clarify the problem and work together in order to come to a realistic agreement before attempting the next stage in the process. Adam et al (2002, pg 193) argues Above all, it should be sensitive to the service user’s ‘world’- the context in which the work occurs and the relative power of the participants’. Again, this is providing us with the understanding of our role within this approach to empower clients with the ability to change through intervention or the ability to dis-empower them through our actions. Most agency policies will promote short-term intervention.
This may be due to the short-term intervention strategies within the structure of task-centred practice, allowing more service users to access services. However, it could also be construed as cost effectiveness, due to the minimal amount of intervention. Minimal intervention with quality outcomes could enhance an agencies ability to be funded successfully. Adam et al argues ‘the real extent to which “clients” gain control through task-centred approaches remains a matter of controversy… financial constraints, policy imperatives and the practitioner’s value base as setting boundaries which pre-empt the possibilities of real power-sharing’.
I would suggest that this could be appropriate in any intervention, the task-centred model should allow for such dialogue around power to take place throughout the process. In relation to power, the social worker should have an awareness of self-knowledge and an understanding of social systems. They should also have an understanding of social groups and cultures and how we are to challenge such oppression on a personal, cultural or structural level (N, Thompson 2000). Everitt (1992) suggests that in order to combat oppression social workers need to have a ‘research mind’ and to use action in their commitment to change society for the good.
Everitt (1992) established a theory based on a six-point framework in relation to anti-oppressive practice. His theory is based on the awareness of self-knowledge and the understanding of social systems, an understanding of social groups and cultures and how we are to challenge such oppression on either a personal or a structural level. It is clear that social workers need to have a ‘research mind’ Everitt (1992) and to use action in their commitment to change society for the good. The use of these six points help social workers to develop a clear understanding of power and oppression for them to develop an anti-oppressive practice.
The use of these six points help social workers to develop a clear understanding of power and oppression for them to develop anti-oppressive practice. In 1989 CCETSW introduced Paper 30, which focuses on ADP, ARP and AOP practice. ADP focuses on all minority groups within our society; below I have provided a brief description of discrimination; some of which was extracted from the Encarta Encyclopaedia CD Rom (2000) ‘Discrimination relates to a set of behaviours towards individuals or groups that in any situation in which a group or individual is treated unfavourably based on prejudice.
This is usually against their membership of a socially distinct group or category. Such categories include ‘ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, age, and disability. ’ Discriminatory behaviours could be linked to underlying attitudes or the product of social influences. An example of this would be active and hostile attacks on individuals or groups. This discrimination may be religion, such as that shown by Protestants against Roman Catholics and vice versa, or Muslims against Jews and, again, vice versa.
It may also be racial, as in the apartheid policy that was enforced in South Africa from 1948 to 1992; or it may be sexual, as in many countries where women have few rights. Behaviour that is not perceived, as normal will be oppressed within society and that abnormal behaviour will be restricted. I would suggest that in order to be professional we do not have to condone the behaviours of others, we have to offer empathy, and respect the persons culture, sexuality, religion ect. However, Jordan (1991) suggests that respect for a person could fail to recognise the diversity of the British multicultural society.
He suggests that if we treat a black person as individuals with the same ‘rights’ we would be failing to recognise the persons cultural needs and may be see to be ‘ colour blind (Jordan 1991). Modern day Social Work has recognise the ‘colour blind effect’ and with the introduction of ARP and ADP strives to reduce discrimination regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, disability etc. As Social Workers, we have to work within a legal framework and by doing so may assist us in preventing discrimination.
An example of this is the Race Relations Act 1976. The polices within the Act could be perceived as a contract between the Social Worker and the State. As qualified Social Worker, working within a statutory organisation, they would have to agree and adhere to the policies and procedures. This could be defined as task-centred practice, by working and agreeing with the terms and conditions set out by the organisation. I would suggest that a good social worker would have the skills involved to continuously integrate ADP and AOP within their practice.
I would also consider that task-centred intervention may be linked to crisis intervention and depending on the client, social worker and circumstances, that crisis intervention may be deemed more appropriate than task-centred work. The term ‘crisis’ is described in Coulshed & Orme (1998) as: “either a threat, loss or a challenge. ” Crisis intervention originated within the field of mental health by Caplan (1965) and was further researched by Roberts (1990). Crisis intervention applied theoretical perspectives based on ego psychology and the psychodynamic theory.
Caplan worked on the notion of preventive psychiatry. Caplan constructed a three-stage plan of intervention which Chui and Ford (2000), refer to in Stepney, P & Ford D (2000) they state that: ‘they are Caplan’s three phases of crisis and Roberts’ seven stages of working through crisis…both appear to see crisis as having a structure which can be broken down into specific …stages of intervention’.
Both Caplan and Roberts’ theories offer a framework for intervention. pg 45) I would suggest that a crisis can only be erceived as a crisis to the individual; what is necessarily seen, as a crisis to one person may not be a crisis to another. Chui, W & Ford, D (2000) Crisis Intervention as Common Practice cited in: – Stepney, P & Ford D (2000) state that: ‘different people may think of a crisis in many different ways and the cornerstone in understanding the nature and impact of a crisis situation depends largely on the feelings, perceptions and responses of an individual…practitioners thus need to be open minded and sensitive in order to understand the immediate concerns and worries of those involved’.
I would suggest the application of crisis intervention often involves the skills required within the person-centred model. The relationship between the social worker and client needs to be a two way process. Crisis intervention is based on the assumption of short-term intervention. This process would normally take about six sessions, however this can be re-evaluated during the period of resolution. Whilst, evaluating task-centred and crisis intervention I would suggest that there is a strong correlation between both theories. Epstien (1992:102) cited M.
Payne (1997) states that he: “ treats both examples of a range of brief treatment methods. ” Gray (1987) in M. Pyane (1997) also suggests a link between task-centred and client centred intervention. He points out that both methods are structured and contracts between client workers are used. This can be seen in the examples provided throughout this essay. I can recognise the correlation between both methods. However, I would suggest that crisis intervention focuses upon the emotional responses and assist the client to move on, enabling them to deal with future crisis, which may arise.
Task-centred work focuses on practical tasks in order to resolve problems. However, I believe that regardless of the chosen method of intervention the individual social worker has to have to appropriate interpersonal skills in order to deal with each individual and every situation which may arise. O’Hagan K, (1986) states that: ‘It is the social worker, him or herself, their personal qualities, their self-training, experience, knowledge, skill, integrity, motivation, and above all else, their level of self-awareness as to their impact on the crisis and vice-versa’.
This statement provides us with than insight into the multi-skills needed to promote task-centred practice and crisis intervention. Without these skills, it is unlikely that a favourable outcome will be achieved. The ‘self-training’, stated above is slightly worrying, does it imply the training received during social work courses are insufficient or that the qualities needed by the worker are gained over time once qualified.
In the end we take our skills and go it alone, this is worrying in the sense that training has to reflect a number of interventions The task-centred model is a short-term, problem-solving approach to social work practice. It was developed by William Reid and Laura Epstein in 1969 and appeared as a response to the criticism that long-term casework was time-consuming and it wasn’t very successful in a significant percentage of clients.
It is a way of working with people that highlight partnership and the clients’ participation in decisions that affect them. Task-centred work is one of the few models of social work that encourages clients to decide what they wish to improve or change, rather than having to work on problems that the practitioner considers most important. It also emphasise the client’s motivation, responsibility and the improving of problem-solving capacity.
Both task-centred and crisis intervention approaches are popular and widely used methods of social work practice. Although these two approaches have different origins they have some common features. In order to focus on the advantages and disadvantages of task-centred and crisis intervention approaches for anti-discriminatory practice, I intend to look at the key features of each approach. Discrimination occurs when individuals or groups of people receive unequal or unfair treatment on account of prejudice. There are many forms of discrimination which include racism, sexism and ageism.
Almost by definition, a large proportion of people seeking help from, or referred to, social services (or similar organisations ) belong to groups which are frequently discriminated against in our society e. g. people with disabilities and older people. As Thompson states- “We live in a society characterised by various forms of inequality. As a result of this, certain groups in society have less access to resources, fewer opportunities or ‘life-chances’, less power and influence, poorer health and so on. “(2000 p141)
Many of the people who are social work clients or users of social services are subject to multiple discrimination and oppression. For the purpose of this essay I intend to use a broad definition of anti-discriminatory practice, which is that anti-discriminatory practice is practice that challenges unfairness. According to Thompson “a social work practice which does not take account of oppression and discrimination cannot be seen as good practice,” (2001 p11) I will try to examine the key features of each approach with this quote in mind.
Task-centred work has its origins entirely within social work; it evolved from research in the 1960s in the United States by Reid and Shyne. This research discovered that “first contrary to expectations, that truncated long-term treatment was as effective as long term treatment which ran its full course, second that ‘planned short term treatment’ was effective and, third, that the task-centred model of practice devised as a result was effective. (Payne 1997 p96) Task-centred practice is essentially a problem solving method in which the social worker works in partnership with the client to try to alleviate the client’s problems in a rational and logical way. This method of work is based on agreement between the worker and the client, this is particularly important where the client has not chosen to be involved with social services for example some kind of court order or some child protection work.
There is immediately a clear link here to anti-discriminatory practice as this approach “does not pathologise service users but sees them as fellow citizens who are encountering difficulties” (Doel in Adams 1998 p204). The worker and the client work together to first clarify, and then to explore the problem(s). The problems are then prioritised in order of importance to the client and a goal or goals are set. The next stage is to identify the tasks that need to be undertaken in order to achieve these goals. Tasks can be performed by the client, the worker or by others.
There needs to be a clear agreement between the worker and the client about who is doing what. Task-centred work has clear time limits which also need to be part of the agreement between the worker and the client. Negotiations with and subsequent agreements between the worker and the client are fundamental to this way of working, however thought needs to be given to the best way of recording such agreements. For example how should agreements or ‘contracts’ be recorded when the client is visually impaired, is unable to read or whose first language is not English?
There must be regular reviewing of the tasks which allows for the opportunity to celebrate successes, explore difficulties or if necessary, re-negotiate tasks or goals. Using a task-centred approach should provides real opportunities for empowerment for the client, by given them the chance not only to identify their difficulties, but to prioritise them. Another advantage for anti-discriminatory practice in using this approach is that the focus of the work is the problem itself not the client.
It is important that workers are always aware of the power and authority, both real and perceived that they may have in relation to clients, Doel says of task-centred work that “Its value base is anti-oppressive in that it addresses issues of power and oppression, both in the immediate encounter between worker and service user and in the broader social context” (in Adams 1998 p198) Doel further maintains that “the task-centred model ensures that discussion of power is part of the work itself”. (in Adams p199)
These quotes strongly suggests used properly, task- centred practice has definite advantages for anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice. The task-centred approach “builds on people’s strengths rather than analysing their defects, providing help rather than treatment. Perhaps the most empowering aspect of task-centred work is the fact that there is no mystique about the way it works; its success depends on people understanding the processes of the work, so that they feel worked with and not worked on. (Doel in Hanvey & Philpot 1994 pp22-23) In contrast the crisis intervention approach has its origins in mental health work. Payne says that “Theoretically, crisis intervention uses elements of ego psychology from a psychodynamic perspective.
So it focuses on emotional responses to external events and how to control them rationally. ” (1997 p95) One disadvantage of this perspective for anti-discriminatory practice is that the psychodynamic perspective tends to have a white Eurocentric viewpoint, – psychological literature from the past 100 years has been based on observations primarily on European, predominantly male and overwhelmingly middle class. “(Robinson in Adams 1998 p78). The most important feature of this approach is to recognise that crisis in this context does not mean an emergency or dramatic event. (Although such an event may precipitate a crisis) The crisis may be a response to major life transitions, such as adolescence. Coulshed describes crises as “not necessarily unusual or tragic events, thy can form a normal part of our development and maturation.
What happens in crisis is that our habitual strengths and ways of coping do not work; we fail to adjust either because the situation is new to us, or it has not been anticipated, or a series of events become too overwhelming. “(Coulshed 1991 p68) The focus of the crisis intervention approach is on the individual client’s presentation, that is their response or reaction, rather than a specific event (which may or may not have led to the current crisis). The client is likely to be displaying ‘symptoms’ such as poor sleep, restlessness and agitation. This crisis state is the point at which the worker needs to be available to the client.
The main objective for the worker is to help the client regain their “sense of balance” The first stage of the work is enabling the client to make sense of what has happened to them. This may involve telling the story repeatedly. This helps the client to begin to understand it and thus to feel a bit more in control. Effective communication is obviously crucial and issues around language and understanding need to be considered. It is often helpful to encourage the expression of emotions, the worker must be able to remain calm, and not get caught up in the emotional confusion that may be going on.
Once trust has been established the client can be helped to make connections with past events. Crises are generally resolved in 6-8 weeks and “intervention in crisis is more successful than at other times”. (Payne 1997 p101) However it is whilst the client is in a state of crisis, that they are particularly vulnerable, and workers need to be very aware at this point of the potential power they wield (over and above that which is inherent in the client / worker relationship already).
The client may be unwilling or unable to make decisions; also their families may expect the worker to make decisions on behalf of the client. If statutory powers are being used (e. g. the Mental Health Act 1983) the worker must make sure that any decisions that they make genuinely represent the interest of the client, and take account of all possible areas of discrimination e. g. race, age, gender disability and so on. It is very easy for a worker in this situation to misuse the power or authority that they have.
Despite these apparent disadvantages for anti-discriminatory practice, crisis intervention can be seen as empowering in that it aims to enable the client to regain a sense of control over their lives. In common with task-centred practice, crisis intervention is time limited. Both the task-centred and crisis intervention approaches are popular and generally successful models of social work practice. They can both be used in a variety of settings with all sorts of different people (and sometimes with groups too).
Both these approaches are based on the establishment of a relationship between the worker and the client. there are advantages for anti discriminatory practice in both these approaches in that the concept of partnership or working together is central, particularly to the task centred approach, however the worker must always be aware that there are limitations as they (the worker) will always have, by virtue of their position, a degree of power and /or authority over the client.
The setting of achievable tasks and goals in task-centred work and as Marsh says “the idea of searching for strengths, recognizing lack of them and developing ideas that reflect the actual reality of users’ relationships and lives” is clearly an advantage for anti-discriminatory practice.
However a disadvantage of this same approach may be that the emphasis on tasks may allow the worker to ignore or simply miss aspects of the clients problem or difficulties that may be caused disadvantage or discrimination that the worker has not considered, for example concern about the practical issues for a women with a disability may mean that discrimination or oppression around gender issues is overlooked.
In crisis intervention work, the clients openness to change at the point of crisis can be an advantage for anti-discriminatory practice as it presents an opportunity for the client to be helped to understand and to gain some control over their situation. It is essential that the worker ensures that they do all that they canto enhance and develop the clients control over their situation as soon as possible.
Despite their different origins and differing emphasis i. e. risis intervention focusing on approaches emphasis on (mostly) concrete practical tasks both have a role to play in anti- discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice. Both these methods for anti-discriminatory practice are that they both offer a clear focussed way of tackling problems presented by clients. Anti-discriminatory practice and therefore according to Thompson, good practice (2001 p11) is not dependent on the use of any one method or approach, it is more to do using a method in an anti-discriminatory way.
This means not only being aware of the potential for discrimination and oppression inherent in the worker / client relationship, and in the various approaches to social work practice but also the need to constantly look at ways of using the various approaches in order to reduce discrimination and oppression. In my own work (mostly with adults with learning difficulties) I can think of many occasions when either of the two approaches discussed here may have been helpful. Although much of the work that have done is essentially ‘task oriented’ i. e. ased on practical tasks, from my recent learning and reading I can see that it could not be described as task-centred work.
Tina is a 30 year old woman with a learning disability and some mental health problems, she had recently moved into our area and was living with her brother and sister in law. Prior to this she had had supported accommodation in Wales. During her initial visit to social services Tina and her sister identified her priority need to be to housing. There were also a number of other areas to consider e. g. social contact, work/employment, and mental health issues.
Having identified the major areas of need I set about looking for ways to met Tina’s needs, starting with what I (and Tina’s family) saw as being the priorities – mental health issues, housing , work or some kind of ‘constructive daytime occupation’. It is immediately obvious to me now with the benefit of hindsight (enhanced by reading and learning) that using the task-centred approach in a clear and focussed way would have been helpful not only to Tina, but also to me. In retrospect I can see where my own assumptions about Tina, as a person with a learning disability led me to allow myself and others make decisions on her behalf.
Many of the tasks that I and other people undertook in order to meet Tina’s needs, she could have managed herself. One example of this was getting a prospectus from the local college, in order to find appropriate courses. Eventually Tina got her own flat in a supported housing scheme, and started some college courses. This all took some time and it is quite possible that Tina’s priorities would have been different for example Tina may have considered that making friends and increasing her social contact would be her priority ahead of housing.
Although the greater part of the work with Tina was intended to maximise her independence, following the clear process of the task-centred approach (assessment, intervention, review, termination and evaluation) would have given Tina some control over her life, it would also have given her opportunities to enhance her decision making and other skills which would have potentially improved her perception of herself as an independent adult, and would also may have affected how her family viewed her maybe allowing people to see Tina as a person who may need some support rather than someone that needs looking after.
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