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About this book

This brilliantly systematic and comprehensive textbook provides an integrated approach to social work theory, methods and skills as the bedrock of all social work practice. Recognizing social work as a diverse activity that is rooted in common foundations, it explains how practice both shapes and is shaped by professional purpose. The text also explores the diverse range of social work practice methods available and aims to equip the reader with a foundation in the history and application of these varied approaches.

Offering a step-by-step discussion that will empower readers to critically develop and refine their professional toolkit for purposeful and innovative intervention, this original rationale is an essential resource for any social work student or practitioner looking to build, or consolidate, their understanding of the range of methods and skills available for effective professional practice.

Table of Contents

The Core of Professional Social Work Practice

Frontmatter

1. Social Work Methods in Context: Purposeful Practice

Abstract
In this book I aim to provide a comprehensive introduction to social work methods and skills. The book is intended for students of social work practice and for social workers seeking to develop, or consolidate, their knowledge of a range of methods and skills for professional social work practice. In this book, I seek to explain the rich diversity of social work practice methods and skills and to demonstrate the importance of grounding our use of these methods in a theoretically and practically informed sense of purpose.
Karen Healy

2. Professional Communication Skills

Abstract
Social worker professionals spend a great deal of time communicating with service users, community members, members of their team and the public. To be an effective social worker, one must be an effective communicator. Professional communication in social work draws on the skills we use in everyday interactions. The key difference between everyday and professional communication is that in the latter we need to be aware of our purpose and ensure that our use of communication skills supports the achievement of that purpose.
Karen Healy

Working with Individuals

Frontmatter

3. Working with Individuals to Resolve Life’s Problems

Abstract
Many social workers work with individuals to assist them in addressing life’s challenges. These challenges are diverse and may include coping with life transitions, personal crises or managing life in the face of a chronic condition, such as an illness. In this chapter, I consider interpersonal work with individuals who are not mandated to receive casework assistance. The specific methods of interpersonal work I focus on in this chapter are social casework and counselling. Social workers deploy these methods in a range of contexts including with individuals who voluntarily seek professional help to manage a life problem, such as dealing with grief and loss. Service users may also receive social casework or counselling services as part of a suite of services offered by a multidisciplinary team in a health and welfare service context. In this chapter, I define social casework and contrast it with other forms of interpersonal practice in which social workers and other helping professionals engage. I consider the history of social casework and key debates about casework as a method of social work practice. I then outline and discuss the implementation of social casework and counselling methods.
Karen Healy

4. Working with Mandated Individuals

Abstract
In this chapter, I introduce social work practice with individuals mandated by statutory law to receive those services. I will use the term ‘statutory casework’ to refer to this form of interpersonal practice because the role of the social worker in this form of practice is, in part, defined by statutory laws. In all wealthy, or ‘advanced’, nations, statutory laws exist in a range of health and welfare fields and, accordingly, social workers’ roles are often shaped by these laws. While the purpose of statutory law in health and welfare services fields is heavily contested, justifications for the development of statutory laws include the need for governments to promote the safety of vulnerable individuals or the general community. I will refer to the service users who are subject to statutory inventions as involuntary or mandated service users to reflect the fact that these individuals are compelled to receive social work (and other related) services. However, as I shall argue, social workers should aim to develop a collaborative relationship with service users in this context wherever possible. Statutory social work is a challenging field of practice for a range of reasons, but primarily because service users are likely to resist the involvement of social workers in their lives.
Karen Healy

Working with Families and Groups

Frontmatter

5. Working with Families

Abstract
Social workers work with families in a range of contexts. In fields as diverse as child protection, care of the elderly, mental health, disability support, the prison service and youth justice, social workers engage with families in the course of their work. Families are important in the lives of many service users and community members with whom social workers practise. Social workers work with families in a variety of ways including assessing and building the capacity of families to provide support to address individual service users’ needs, and intervening to address family dynamics that may be harmful or troubling for family members.
Karen Healy

6. Working with Groups

Abstract
Social workers are often involved with groups, as a method of intervention and as a context of practice, such as when working in interdisciplinary teams. Our focus in this chapter is on working with groups as a method of intervention. Groupwork is the practice of bringing together a group of people to achieve a shared purpose. Groupwork is widely used in a variety of social work service contexts such as health services, child welfare and neighbourhood centres. In this chapter, I will define groupwork and consider the uses and limitations of groupwork. I will outline practical strategies for engaging people in groupwork and for promoting change in, and with, groups.
Karen Healy

Community Work, Policy Practice and Organizational Change

Frontmatter

7. Community Work

Abstract
Community work refers to a set of approaches focused on understanding individuals as part of a community and on building the capacity of that community to address the social, economic or political challenges facing its members. Twelvetrees (2008, p. 1) defines community work as ‘the process of assisting people to improve their own communities by undertaking autonomous collective action’. Debate exists about whether or not community work should be considered a method of social work practice or as a separate field of practice (Tesoriero, 2010). I refer to community work as a method a social worker may undertake either as their primary activity, such as when they are employed as a community development worker, or as part of their social work role, such as when they apply community work methods alongside other practice methods.
Karen Healy

8. Policy Practice

Abstract
In this chapter, I consider social workers’ roles in shaping and implementing social policy with and for service users and communities. I adopt Chapin’s (2007, p. 1) definition of social policies as the ‘laws, rules, and regulations that govern the benefits and services provided by governmental and private organizations to assist people in meeting their needs’. Government and health and welfare services organizations develop and use social policies to assist them in making decisions about how to ration limited resources in the context of unlimited needs and competing views about how those needs are to be met (Chapin, 2007). While social policies affect all members of the population, in social work practice we are often involved with policies shaping the scope and nature of resources available to vulnerable populations, such as children in need of out-of-home care, people with chronic mental and physical health challenges and disabilities (Rocha, 2007). Social workers have an important role to play ensuring that social policies are responsive to the needs of the service users and communities with whom they work and in promoting opportunities for these citizens to participate in the policy process.
Karen Healy

9. Conclusion: Creating a Context for Change

Abstract
In this book I have provided an introduction to the history, current debates and skills pertaining to a diverse range of social work practice methods. In this final chapter, I outline the key messages about social work methods and skills underpinning this book and I discuss strategies for creating change in the organizational contexts of social work practice.
Karen Healy
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