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About this book

This compact and practical text applies key ideas, skills and research from psychology to contemporary social work in a variety of settings, making it easily accessible to students. Substantially revised to take account of the latest developments, this is a wide-ranging and authoritative introduction to a complex subject.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Introduction

Abstract
The first edition of Applied Psychology for Social Workers appeared more than twenty years ago in 1984. Since then there have been many changes both in social work organisation, training and delivery and in psychology as an academic and applied discipline. However, as highlighted by the extract above, the challenges underlying the practice of social work remain the same even if the context, process and structures are different. Social workers work with people. That means that a working knowledge of psychology is vital.
Paula Nicolson, Rowan Bayne, Jenny Owen

Applying psychology to social work

Frontmatter

1. Psychology and social work

Abstract
Psychology itself is not a unified discipline but combines different approaches and theoretical orientations to the study of the individual and the individual in a social context. Its origins as an academic subject area — the science of mind and behaviour — go back over a hundred years. In its relatively brief history, however, there have been a number of crises or turning points, and although western academic psychology is well established, there are several areas of contention which have increased, exacerbated by competition for research funding.
Paula Nicolson, Rowan Bayne, Jenny Owen

2. Psychological development through the life course

Abstract
Here we explore the contributions of psychology to understanding the human life course. We do this selectively to demonstrate key illustrations for social work intervention. We begin by looking at attachment behaviours and how these represent the need we have for emotional relationships all through our lives and how the quality of early relationships impacts upon us. We then examine crises in development and finally integrate theories of attachment, loss and life crises to a model of psychological development that integrates multiple perspectives on psychology (see Chapter 1) and is of value to social work theory and practice.
Paula Nicolson, Rowan Bayne, Jenny Owen

Interpersonal and practice skills

Frontmatter

3. Interviewing and counselling

Abstract
Social workers talk and listen to a wide variety of service users, colleagues and others. You may, for example, be gathering sensitive information from a service user with complicated needs one moment and liaising with a health or housing professional the next. One or more of the people involved may be anxious, upset or angry. Some of these conversations, meetings and interviews go well, but in others the participants thought that the outcome could have been better in some way and felt baffled or frustrated by the lack of communication. This chapter reviews some of the skills and personal qualities involved in interviewing and counselling more effectively. For an in-depth discussion of the use of counselling and counselling skills by social workers see Seddon (2005).
Paula Nicolson, Rowan Bayne, Jenny Owen

4. Assertiveness and coping with stress

Abstract
Like the interviewing and counselling skills discussed in the previous chapter, assertive skills can improve conversations, meetings, interviews and counselling sessions dramatically. At one level they too can show respect to service users and others. At another level they can contribute to gathering better quality information and to making fair and helpful decisions more often.
Paula Nicolson, Rowan Bayne, Jenny Owen

5. Psychological type and communication

Abstract
Social workers frequently need to understand other people’s personalities and motives, to predict their behaviour and to communicate effectively. This chapter outlines a widely used personality theory and applies it to communication problems and strategies. This is psychological type theory in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) sense (Myers with Myers, 1980; Bayne, 2004), and it has several strengths. First, the evidence for its validity is at least as strong as it is for rival theories, especially the strong relationship between MBTI results and scores on measures of four of the Big Five personality characteristics (Bayne, 2005): Big Five theory has dominated mainstream personality research for many years, much as MBTI theory has dominated applied personality theory. Second, it is a very positive and constructive theory. Third, it is useful at the straightforward level discussed here but has deeper levels too.
Paula Nicolson, Rowan Bayne, Jenny Owen

6. Groupwork theory and practice skills

Abstract
Individuals do not develop and negotiate their personalities, relationships and ways of coping with the world in isolation (see Chapters 1 and 2). From the moment of birth infants are faced with the need to form relationships with their parents who will be the means of providing the warmth, comfort and food essential for survival. Shortly afterwards children’s experience commonly includes more than one adult, and often other children. Subsequently they will progress to relationships in the nursery, the school, friends near their home, all of which will provide them with a means of establishing patterns of behaviour, gaining an identity and learning a variety of roles.
Paula Nicolson, Rowan Bayne, Jenny Owen

The context of social work

Frontmatter

7. Social work settings and contexts of practice

Abstract
We outlined the main theories and approaches psychology can offer social workers in their everyday practice with service users (Chapters 1 and 2), in developing skills in individual interviewing and group counselling/therapy (Chapters 3 and 6) and self-care (Chapters 4 and 5). Here we examine the way that social workers themselves are subject to the influence of psychological forces in the organisation of their daily working lives. In this chapter we apply psychological knowledge to social work settings and contexts of practice.
Paula Nicolson, Rowan Bayne, Jenny Owen

8. Social policy, social work and psychology

Abstract
As we have shown in Chapter 7, research in psychology (as in any other discipline) is shaped by political decisions and by social contexts, both in terms of ‘what we need to know’ and what is recognised as reliable ‘evidence’ at any particular time. Practitioners need to develop their own critical and reflective skills in order to evaluate and apply research findings in specific settings (Gomm and Davies, 2000).
Paula Nicolson, Rowan Bayne, Jenny Owen

9. The future of psychology and social work

Abstract
In recent years there has been a great deal of flux and change within three domains of the interface between applied psychology and social work in the UK:
  • The intellectual domain: areas such as child development, domestic violence and mental health have been ‘claimed’ both by psychology and by social work as disciplines, in terms of formulating theory and carrying out new research; sometimes there is collaboration, but there have also been both divergence and tension.
  • The policy domain: there are new developments in a number of areas — including professional ethics and governance, user-professional relationships and the research-practice relationship — and these are reshaping the ways in which both psychologists and social workers operate.
  • The organisational domain: with an increasing push from government for inter-professional and inter-agency collaboration, there have been major changes within and between agencies delivering services, and also in arrangements for training, funding, regulation and inspection. Again, these changes are affecting the ways in which social workers and psychologists regard each other and view opportunities for collaboration at practice level, and also in relation to research initiatives.
Paula Nicolson, Rowan Bayne, Jenny Owen
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