According to the Social Work Dictionary 5th edition 2003, self-efficacy is defined as follows:
A client’s expectations or beliefs in his or her ability to accomplish specified tasks that are needed to reach therapeutic goals.
This means that if a person has an expectation of success or mastery of a given skill, the more likely they will accomplish the task given them. The opposite would be true if the person experienced repeated failure at a given task. The main point here is that people do not master tasks overnight, and that success is truly a journey if I may coin a phrase. The same can be said of failure, that it can be a journey as well. People who experience long-term failure can develop low self-efficacy; thus, when help is provided, it may take longer for them to develop a sense of accomplishment.
It is important to understand that, when dealing with people who have experienced long-term failure, they may not respond to well-intentioned intervention or assistance. The key is to start where the person is at, and to help them achieve small successes and then build on these. One other important point to make is that people need support when they fail to try again and again. I believe it is so important to help people find a safe place where they are allowed learn from failure and find small successes.
I posted last in May of 2012 on life skills 2.0 what I have learned along the way. I mentioned in that post of the importance of finding a safe place. I meant that whole-heartedly because a safe place or even a person is where you can go to recharge your spirit and fight on another day. People will and do experience failure, but they can learn to succeed if given support to do so.