The impact of systems thinking on British social work has been patchy. Most recently trained practitioners are probably familiar with the ‘integrated’ or ‘unitary’ approach (Goldstein, 1973; Pincus and Minahan, 1973; Specht and Vickery, 1977). This broadly-based ‘systems’ perspective on social work practice has undoubtedly been influential, though it has not heralded the new dawn so eagerly awaited by some enthusiasts (Evans, 1976). The most dramatic infusion of systemic ideas into social work has in fact come from the family therapy field (Skynner, 1976; Walrond-Skinner, 1976; Selvini Palazzoli et al., 1978; Treacher and Carpenter, 1984; Burnham, 1986).
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