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About this book

The fourth edition of Veronica Coulshed's classic text remains an ideal introduction for all beginning social work students as well as a refresher and companion for practitioners. It has been meticulously revised to reflect the latest changes in social work education and retains the focus on the relationship between theory, evidence and practice.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Introduction

Abstract
Since its inception social work has faced major threats from governments of the left and right. Despite these threats it has survived, and some would argue that at the beginning of the twenty-first century it is in a stronger position than it has ever been. The introduction of an undergraduate degree as the qualifying level for social workers in the UK is due recognition that social work requires not only practitioners who have skills in human relationships, but that those skills have to be underpinned by theory and knowledge about the complexity of those relationships. Registration for the profession of social work, accompanied by a code of practice, reflects the importance of the roles and tasks that social workers perform. It also recognises that service users and carers deserve high-quality practitioners who not only have skills informed by theory, but are also committed to core values.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

1. Theory for practice

Abstract
For social work there is a continuing tension between practice and theory. This tension exists both within social work and about social work. At times students and practitioners have protested that it was necessary to forget theory once in practice. The argument has been that theory is abstract, inaccessible, and that it reduces spontaneity in helping people. Using theory implied distance and objectivity which contrasted with feelings and the living reality of social work encounters. As such it was seen to be a stumbling-block to developing individual style, and the most that could be hoped for was that students would admit that they might subconsciously be using theory that they had absorbed during their education and training.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

Social work Processes

Frontmatter

2. Social work processes: assessment

Abstract
The process of assessment is core to social work practice. Increasingly, as the organisation and delivery of social work services change and develop in response to political and economic reforms the assessment process is the one part of service delivery that depends on the skills, knowledge and values of those who have been educated and trained as social workers. This is not to say that an assessment, or the process of assessment, is unique to social work, but the use that is made of social workers’ judgements puts them in significant positions. These judgements are not always made in isolation. The development of multi-professional working requires comprehensive assessment to which a number of workers contribute. However what is vital is that the social work contribution is recognised and seen as an essential part of any assessment.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

3. Social work processes: advocacy, negotiation and partnership

Abstract
Over time social work has changed either in response to policy developments or as a result of practitioners and academics critically reflecting on the role and purpose of social work. The impact of the changes has been to either introduce new methods of intervention, or cause practitioners to work differently within particular methods of intervention. This chapter discusses an important set of changes that have occurred, which reflect the way the value base has impacted on the process of social work. In focusing on advocacy, negotiation and partnership it will outline how social workers have redefined the relationship with those who are the users of social work services.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

4. Social work processes: communication

Abstract
The final chapter of this part on social work processes is about communication. This is because communication underpins both the processes of social work discussed so far and the interventions that are described in the following parts. Social workers might have extensive knowledge and understanding of theories of human behaviour and of a range of possible interventions to help resolve problems, but if they are unable to communicate, to instil confidence, listen and respond appropriately, then this knowledge is worthless. The centrality of communication to good social work practice was highlighted by the Rules and Requirements for Social Work devised to identify competencies required by social workers. The first competence students had to demonstrate was that they could ‘communicate and engage’ (CCETSW, 1989). These rules were superseded by the new Degree in Social Work (DoH, 2003). Arguments for a qualifying degree emphasised the growing amount of theory with which beginning social work practitioners had to become familiar. Nevertheless the degree has at its core the need for social workers to be able to apply that theory in practice, and to be able to communicate effectively with service users.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

Methods of Intervention

Frontmatter

5. Counselling

Abstract
This section on interventions opens with a discussion of counselling. There are two reasons for this. First, the processes of social work that have been discussed in Part I often draw upon the skills of counselling. As has been outlined in the previous chapter, effective communication is crucial in all social work intervention, whether it is with individuals, families, groups or communities. However social work needs more than good technical communication skills; it requires frameworks with which to comprehend the emotional and other meaning vested in communication, and it demands that workers reflect on the implications on their own and others’ actions and reactions. Understandings drawn from these processes inform the decisions of workers about how to intervene. Second, skills in counselling, and the psychodynamic theory that underpins them, are core to other social work interventions, such as crisis intervention or behaviour modification. These are somewhat controversial statements, as some argue that with the changes in the organisation and delivery of social work, counselling has become redundant. This redundancy, it is argued, is in part because of the criticisms of counselling and its underpinning theories as being individually focused and oppressive.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

6. Working with loss and change

Abstract
In this chapter we explore ways of intervening that draw on the theories and skills of counselling in specific situations. Individuals who come to social work agencies have experienced or are experiencing trauma and loss. This loss may be actual, for example as a result of bereavement, divorce or illness. Others may seem to be experiencing crises because of homelessness, debt, difficulties with looking after children, the onset of dementia or other aspects of living. In these circumstances it is necessary to understand what is meant by the word ‘crisis’ as it relates to social work intervention. Such circumstances could be, for some people, a permanent way of living, and they develop mechanisms for coping. For others, one seemingly small event might precipitate feelings of helplessness and render the person incapable of acting.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

7. Task-centred practice

Abstract
Task-centred practice, also known as brief therapy, short-term or contract work has had a significant impact on both social work practice and the organisation of services. It is one of the most popular and frequently cited methods of working by students and workers. However, because it is so popular, task-centred work is often misunderstood and misrepresented as being simplistic, nothing more than making agreements with service users about what is to be done and who is to do it. Also, because it shares with crisis intervention the notion of being time-limited there is often confusion between task-centred work and crisis intervention.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

8. Cognitive-behavioural work

Abstract
The final chapter in this section looks at methods that have been developed from psychology, but which are playing an increasingly important part in social work practice. The basic tenet of behavioural approaches is that behaviour is learned and unlearned. Much of the work was developed in psychology but behaviourism has influenced social work practice in a number of ways. In working with people with learning difficulties the principles of ‘normalisation’ or age-appropriate behaviour involve the basic principles of learning theory. Programmes working with offenders, especially those who are dependent upon substances such as drugs or alcohol, involve cognitive behaviour therapy, as do those working with people experiencing depression.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

Contexts of Intervention

Frontmatter

9. Working with families and children

Abstract
The third part of the text focuses on the contexts in which the various methods and interventions discussed so far may be applied. Work in specific ‘contexts’ requires consideration either because the setting has implications for the way those methods are used or because there are additional specific methods that have evolved from different settings. Obviously not all settings or contexts are covered. The most obvious omission is working in residential settings, but that is not to say the methods are not relevant here.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

10. Working with adults

Abstract
A separate chapter on working with adults takes us back to issues raised in the Introduction: how best to organise writing about social work practice. Adults experience crisis and bereavement, they form the major part of user groups who would benefit from counselling and task-centred work, and might respond to behavioural approaches. Equally adults are members of families, groups and communities. Recognising this, this chapter will describe working with adults by drawing attention to the organisation of services for adults.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

11. Working with groups

Abstract
Groups can be used when undertaking assessments, to give people support or bring about behaviour change, and in processes such as consulting with users and carers. It might therefore be assumed that groupwork is any method of intervention, but with more than two people.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

12. Working with communities

Abstract
Debates about the relationship between social work and community work have been a common feature of social work textbooks. Some see community work as part of a ‘holy trinity’ with individual work and groupwork. They argue that community work should be regarded as a distinct form of practice, which calls upon a theoretical and knowledge base that is more sociological and less psychological than individual work and groupwork (Payne, 1991). Radical approaches to social work recognised the importance of using community approaches as part of social work, and welcomed the change of emphasis that community work represented. Working with individuals within their (geographical) context showed problems to have many dimensions, and responses could be more flexible.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme

13. Endings

Abstract
All social work efforts have to come to an end some time. In fact as we noted in the introduction there are many endings in social work. Each time we end our contact with users, be it at the end of an interview, home visit or group or community session, important principles of preparing ourselves and the other person for the parting or ending have to be kept in mind. Also social work can be episodic. We can undertake an assessment as social worker, care manager or court officer, and then another worker may be involved. Although the contact with the agency might not end, the particular relationship between the worker and the user does. Final termination or transfers of work may be planned or unplanned, initiated by service user or worker, mutually agreed or unilaterally decided.
Veronica Coulshed, Joan Orme
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