Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of service users in social work and child protection: those who go to professionals for help because they have a problem; and those to whom professionals go with help because they pose problems for others or themselves — voluntary and involuntary clients. Although this puts the matter rather simplistically, it does have the virtue of distinguishing between cooperative and uncooperative service users. Social work literature has been quite poor at making this distinction. Most is written as if the service user is voluntary and stresses the importance of respect for them and their rights and ‘empowerment’. In the childcare literature, this is frequently expressed in terms of the goal of ‘working in partnership’ with parents and families. As Ruth Pearson (2009) has shown, this has resulted in limited analytical attention being given to the complexity of the work when risk is high and the parents do not want a service and try to avoid and deceive workers. One effect of such resistance is the constant worry and threat of intimidation and sometimes actual violence that practitioners have to deal with (Littlechild, 2005).
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- Using good authority: working with resistance and involuntary clients
- Macmillan Education UK
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