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About this book

Assessment is a crucial social work task. Yet there is so much to consider that it can sometimes feel overwhelming. This core text book gives you structured, practical guidance on how to approach this vital professional skill. In a clear and accessible style, the authors provide both the theory behind assessment as well as helpful practice examples.

Whether on a qualifying course or returning to study, this fully revised edition of a tried-and-tested text gives social work students and practitioners a coherent and reliable guide to best practice. At the heart of this authoritative book is a set of theoretical maps to guide social workers' thinking and decision-making when undertaking assessment.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Assessment in the Twenty-First Century

Abstract
In this chapter we look at the difficulty of defining assessment. How theory and research influence social workers’ hypotheses about the focus of assessment is then addressed, as is the impact of legislation and government guidance in recent years and the complexities arising out of the emphasis on managing risk.
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Chapter 2. Anti-Oppressive Practice

Abstract
In this chapter we examine the origins of anti-discriminatory (ADP) and antioppressive (AOP) practice in the radical social work of the 1970s, and look at how it has been developed by Dalrymple and Burke (1995), Thompson (2003, 2012) and Burke and Harrison (2009). The complicated nature of power is then discussed and the interplay between the various ‘isms’ is examined. The implications for assessment are detailed, particularly the importance of negotiating perceptions and recognizing diversity. There follows a critical comment on the lack of an adequately agreed definition of what constitutes equality; the nature of knowledge; and the fluidity of social divisions which complicates antioppressive practice. The chapter concludes with suggestions on the basic elements of effective anti-oppressive practice, those which promote genuine partnerships in the assessment process.
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Chapter 3. Effective Assessment Processes

Abstract
This chapter examines the effectiveness of the Common Assessment Framework and Single Assessment Process in meeting the outcomes set out inEvery Child MattersandOur Health, Our Care, Our Say.(In Scotland there is the Integrated Assessment Framework and in Wales the Unified Assessment Framework.) We consider how assessments are regulated and monitored. There follows a discussion of different types of assessment before a framework for assessment utilizing the reflexivity of social research methodology is proposed. The chapter concludes with an outline of the stages of assessment.
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Chapter 4. Selecting a Map

Abstract
We have outlined the issues and the process of making assessments, and we have addressed data collection. Before considering in detail the theoretical maps that guide social workers’analysesof problematic situations, we will first explore the array of social work knowledge with a view to improving how weweightdata (stage 3 of the process) and then decide which map(s) to select for the purposes ofanalysis(stage 4 of the process).
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Chapter 5. A Satellite Map: Systems Approaches

Abstract
Here we provide an introduction to systems thinking as it might be applied in social work. We draw on three particular systems approaches, beginning with Bronfenbrenner’s (1979–2006) ecological systems theory, then Pincus and Minahan’s (1973) systems approach to planning in social work practice and, thirdly, systemic family work.
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Chapter 6. A Map of the Ocean: Psychodynamic Approaches

Abstract
In this chapter, we will be considering various ideas associated with the psychoanalytical approach to understanding the nature of people. We are selective in our sources, limiting ourselves to the work of Erikson (1948, 1977), Hollis (1964), Berne (1978) and Bowlby (1982, 1988), who have built on and developed Freudian theories in ways which have proved particularly attractive in social work. Our description of the theory will reflect a synthesis of many people’s ideas and insights, their terms and their language.
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Chapter 7. An Ordnance Survey Map: Behavioural Approaches

Abstract
As with psychodynamic social work, the application of learning theory to social work was taken initially from clinical psychology and then adapted to a wide range of social work situations. We will identify two main strands of learning theory in this chapter: traditional behaviourism, consisting of three types of learning based on the work of Pavlov (1960), Skinner (1958) and Bandura (1969, 1977), and cognitive behaviour modification, consisting of five types based on Beck (1967), Ellis (1962), Seligman (1992), Ward and Mann (2004), Ward, Mann and Gannon (2007) and Hayeset al.(2007). The cognitive part of the map looks at how habitual ways of thinking can be considered as habitual behaviour, with an emphasis on how unhelpful thinking can be replaced by learning and practising more helpful thinking, and on how these ideas develop useful assessments that can accommodate both quantitative and qualitative aspects of change.
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Chapter 8. A Handy Tourist Map: The Task-Centred Approach

Abstract
The map presented in this chapter is also from the second wave of social work theory. It too is problem-focused, having much in common with the cognitive element in the previous map, but it moves further towards social constructionism and also towards acknowledging and dealing with external social factors in human difficulties.
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Chapter 9. An Explorer Map: Strengths-Based Approaches

Abstract
This chapter presents theoretical maps which belong to the third wave of social work theory. The knowledge bases in previous map chapters were about pathology and the nature of problems. The knowledge bases in this chapter are about solutions and the nature of human resilience, creativity and growth. Thus strengths-based approaches are more interested in service users’ futures than pasts, in potential rather than pathology. Through the exploration of unused or underdeveloped strengths and resources service users are helped to develop alternative stories of their lives, focusing on possibilities rather than failures.
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Chapter 10. Assessment in Children’s Services

Abstract
This chapter outlines briefly the statutory context for the assessment of children and the values and principles underpinning it. It describes the theoretical and research evidence on the aetiology and maintenance of child abuse commonly used by social workers in making assessments, illustrating the lopsided nature of this research. The problems accruing from attempts to eliminate risk are discussed and a safety-focused assessment approach is presented. Then the evidence of good practice in the assessment of need is presented and outcomes for children are discussed. The chapter concludes with suggestions as to the ways in which the wishes and needs of children can be assessed and good working relationships with parents promoted. The learning exercises in this, and the following chapter, are intended to complement student placement and work experiences.
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Chapter 11. Assessment in Adults’ Services

Abstract
In this chapter we will focus on some of the larger categories of service users, particularly older people, people with mental illnesses, and disabled people. We will stress, however, that all the groups have many problems in common, such as health, safety, housing, income support and discrimination. They all can be vulnerable and neglected and, in the not too distant past, the services responsible for them were seen as ‘Cinderella’ services, which depended on unqualified workers and were underfunded. Services have improved over the years with an increase in qualified workers and there was an attempt by government to undertake a large-scale transformation in adult services, based on entitlement and choice and involving individual personalized budgets. This has been followed by the further development of integrated health and social care services.
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Chapter 12. A Map of the Universe: Spiritual Approaches

Abstract
In this chapter we return to Bronfenbrenner’s macro system, briefly looking at the factors which have led to a resurgence of interest in spirituality. The multifaceted nature of modern spirituality is explored and the implications for assessment outlined.
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne

Conclusion

Abstract
Keeping an open mind can never be taken for granted. How can we make sound judgements without being judgemental?
Judith Milner, Steve Myers, Patrick O’Byrne
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