Social workers engage in assessment in every role in which they work. From policy advocacy through to working with families and children, social workers have to be able to do the complex work of assessment. Assessment has many functions. It assists in engagement and way of working with and for service users and systems, helps to identify problems, forms the foundation for planning interventions and actions and, lastly, assessment is a way of making sense of information and situations. Therefore, it is fair to say that assessment is a generic skill in social work (Crisp, Anderson, Orme & Lister, 2006) and it involves lots of other skills too: interpersonal skills; interviewing techniques; and data collection and analysis. Good assessments involve classifying and organising phenomena and ideas, creating hypotheses and theory building. Thus, assessments mean working with multiple perspectives and are used for decision- making and planning. This chapter defines the meaning and stages of assessment before exploring the way that theory is used in assessments. Here, we particularly focus on strength-based assessment and risk assessments. The importance of hypothesising and critical thinking are explained, demonstrating the centrality of the social worker’s thinking and judgement in the course of doing assessments.
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