The ecosystems perspective is a way of seeing case phenomena (the person and the environment) in their interconnected and multilayered reality, to order and comprehend complexity, and avoid oversimplification and reductionism. It is a way of placing conceptual boundaries around cases to provide limits and define the parameters of practice with individuals, families, groups, and communities. It can be pictorialized as an ecomap (Hartman, 1978; Meyer, 1970), a graphic device for viewing the relevant, connected case elements together, within a boundary that clarifies for the practitioner the case system as the focus of work. A typical ecomap of a case in social work practice may look like this:


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