As earlier chapters have shown, social workers and other professionals regularly have to relate to children and other family members in their most intimate spaces: living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms. A key aim of this book is to enter these spaces where practice is actually done in order to deepen understandings of the encounters between professionals and children, parents and other carers that go on in them, but where research and writing about child protection have previously failed to go. This chapter focuses on another crucial, and neglected, space where child protection work goes on: the car. There is, in fact, no more intimate space in which practice goes on, in the sense of the small enclosure and close proximity that the car forces on its occupants. When the space of the car is given the detailed attention it deserves in social work, it emerges as much more than a one-ton object that enables the worker to reach the child and get from A to B. The car is a site of practice where vitally important opportunities for meaningful communication and therapeutic work with children arise, as the quote above encapsulates. It is a space where vulnerable children make significant disclosures and ‘therapeutic journeys’ go on, in every sense, whether it is during drives that are undertaken as part of ongoing casework, or when children experience hugely significant ‘moves’ into care, changing placement or other life changes.
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- The car as a space for therapeutic practice
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