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About this book

Now in its fourth edition, this international best-selling textbook is a classic in its field. Written by one of the leading names in social work, it provides a comprehensive and critical overview of the main practice theories that will act as a companion for students throughout their course and their career as a practitioner. In this substantially reworked and updated fourth edition of his best-selling text, Malcolm Payne presents clear and concise evaluations of the pros and cons of major theories that inform social work practice, and comparisons between them.

This is the ideal text for theory, methods and practice modules on qualifying social work courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well qualified social work practitioners taking post-qualifying and CPD courses.

Table of Contents

Thinking about social work theory

Frontmatter

1. The social construction of social work theory

Abstract
This chapter aims to help practitioners feel confident in using theory in their practice. It discusses the different kinds of social work theory and the arguments around them, and explains how all of this may be useful in practice. It shows how social work theory in general, and practice theory in particular, is socially constructed in interactions between clients and practitioners in their agencies and in wider political, social and cultural arenas. This makes clear that we build both practice and theory through our experience operating in the real world; they are not given to us from on high. Social construction ideas also show that practice and theory are not separate, settled bodies of knowledge, but constantly evolve and influence each other. Change in social work, and in the lives of practitioners and clients, is possible through engagement in this process of evolution of ideas and practice.
Malcolm Payne

2. Evaluating social work theory

Abstract
This chapter aims to enable practitioners to evaluate the range and usefulness of the practice theories available in social work.
Malcolm Payne

3. Connecting theory and practice

Abstract
This chapter aims to help practitioners with building connections between theory and practice so that they can feel confident in enabling the interaction between theoretical ideas and practice.
Malcolm Payne

Reviewing social work theories

Frontmatter

4. Psychodynamic practice

Abstract
Psychodynamic ideas are distinctive in social work because they emphasize the importance of people’s feelings and internal conflicts in creating and resolving the problems that they face. They are valued as a rich fund of ideas for practice. In the history of social work, they have had a strong impact on how social work is practised and have helped shape its focus on people’s psychological reactions to their social environment as the source of personal and social problems. Psychodynamic practice, therefore, demonstrates how the problem-solving objective of social work supports the existing social order by helping people to adjust to the society around them.
Malcolm Payne

5. Crisis and task-centred practice

Abstract
Crisis intervention and task-centred practice continue to be important in social work because they offer brief, structured models of intervention which address clearly definable problems that will respond to active efforts to resolve them. This focus on the shared principles of defined positive aims and action sequences makes them easy to grasp and apply. By giving priority to the main issues that clients have identified for themselves, these models of practice respect clients and engage their commitment, which is important for the professional working alliance and the shared value principles of human rights discussed in Chapter 1 (see Figure 1.7). There is an evidence base for their efficacy, especially in task-centred practice, and overall both models are practical and easy to justify in busy social agencies.
Malcolm Payne

6. Cognitive-behavioural practice

Abstract
The main contribution of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) theories to social work is that they emphasize the importance of developing people’s rational management of their behaviour so that we can better understand the source of their problems. The practice that arises from theories of CBT focuses on how to manage and change people’s behaviour to resolve social problems that affect them. Although it is now seen as a single form of practice, CBT was built up from two main theoretical strands: behaviourism, supported by learning and social learning theory, and cognitive theory.
Malcolm Payne

7. Systems and ecological practice

Abstract
The main contribution of systems and ecological ideas to social work is to integrate interpersonal interventions involving individuals with interventions that also engage with families, communities and other social agencies. This is done through a focus on how social and personal factors interact, helping people to adapt their social environment and their reactions to it so that they can live more harmoniously. A recent emphasis on ‘green’ policy issues such as sustainability in the natural environment is a new contribution to social work and care services and connects with ecological ideas. Ecological systems theory, while it sometimes refers to green issues, is mainly concerned with the social rather than the natural environment.
Malcolm Payne

8. Macro practice, social development and social pedagogy

Abstract
The main contribution of these ideas to social work is the priority they give to the social and educational, rather than the psychological, as a focus for intervention. Their practice emphasizes engaging people with similar interests in a particular locality or a particular social issue, or individuals with particular social needs, so that they will come together, identify shared concerns and work jointly to overcome them. This chapter brings together these traditions. The focus of these ideas on social and educational development means that they form a bridge between problem-solving and empowerment objectives in social work.
Malcolm Payne

9. Strengths, narrative and solution practice

Abstract
The main contribution of these perspectives is a forward-looking approach, rejecting ‘problem-solving’ as a focus for individual help. They help clients and their families to recast apparent problems by looking for strengths in their present lives, allowing them to build positively for the future. A focus on building resilience is an important feature, and increasingly many of the ideas are being picked up in empowerment and critical theories.
Malcolm Payne

10. Humanistic practice, existentialism and spirituality

Abstract
The main contribution of humanistic and related practice to social work is its focus on the aim of enhancing individual personal development. The aim is to understand our personal identity in relation to others, not just to their identities but to the totality of who they are and the relationships they are part of. This becomes a way of empowering all aspects of our human creativity in support of human rights in human society.
Malcolm Payne

11. Empowerment and advocacy

Abstract
Empowerment and advocacy enable social workers to construct help and alliances that give people chances to achieve a greater understanding of, and a change in, their lives. Empowerment seeks to help clients gain powers of decision and action over their own lives by reducing the effect of social or personal blocks to exercising their existing power, increasing their capacity and self-confidence to use their power, and transferring power to people who lack it. Advocacy seeks to represent the interests of powerless clients to powerful individuals and social structures.
Malcolm Payne

12. Critical practice

Abstract
Critical perspectives help social workers to avoid assuming that the way things are is the way they have to be. They offer critiques and alternatives to the present social order — how society is arranged around us. From these, practitioners can analyse and deal with the social factors that underlie the present problems they are grappling with, or with social barriers to the positive aims they are trying to achieve.
Malcolm Payne

13. Feminist practice

Abstract
Feminist perspectives contribute to social work a focus on explaining and responding to the oppressed position of women in many societies. This is important because, in most societies, women are the main clients of social work, and most social workers and social care workers are women. Feminist perspectives, therefore, help everyone — not only women — to understand how their social role and position is worked out in society; in particular, they allow the female majority of social workers and their clients to practise in solidarity with each others’ worldviews. Feminist practice contributes practice methods and skills in collaborative dialogue and groupwork that can be used to achieve a consciousness of issues that affect women in their social relations within societies. These can also be applied more widely.
Malcolm Payne

14. Anti-oppressive and multicultural sensitivity approaches to practice

Abstract
Ideas on anti-oppressive and multicultural sensitivity approaches to practice help practitioners to understand the cultural and ethnic barriers, conflicts and differences in societies so that they may practise in ways that respect people’s individual and social identities and respond to oppression by dominant social groups. Cultural and ethnic differences have important consequences for people’s personal development and social experience, and these ideas help practitioners to incorporate these factors into their practice.
Malcolm Payne
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