The Art of Social Work Practice

The Art of Social Work Practice argues that it is important for social work to reclaim many of its intuitive skills and core values. The core principle of building and maintaining professional relationships with service users is good and should never have been jettisoned for encounters that are characterised by an arm's length approach. Indeed, in many areas - such as user involvement, ADP, holistic approach, social model of intervention - social work has led the way and other professions have subsequently followed. The Art of Social Work Practice asserts that reinstating trust in social work relationships, as opposed to emphasising a contractual relationship, would not be incompatible with a (post-post-) modern, dynamic and effective profession.Social work did not need to strip itself of subjectivity in order to appear credible by being 'objective' in its dealings with service users and other professions. Social work is not only a science. It is also an art. The art of social work lies in its ability to form meaningful relationships with service users; to maintain the dignity and self-respect of service users; to work in a way that encourages people to take control of their lives; and to respect differences but not at the expense of recognising similarities. The Art of Social Work Practice explores: the use of theory in social work and how theories enable practitioners to develop a deeper level of understanding of their practice (It argues that practitioners need to expose their ideas and their approaches to the very people whom they intend to benefit from their intervention); how dangerous practice could be avoided by continually asking searching questions about the worker and service users' relationship and the approach being adopted; preventative social work and unintended negative outcomes; assessment; communication and planning; decision making; user involvement; and, working in partnership and collaboratively with other professionals, emphasising the importance of demystifying the stereotypes that different professionals hold of each other.While this is not a how-to-do-it book there are practice examples, as well as questions that are posed for consideration in a number of the chapters to illustrate the applicability of the ideas and concepts under discussion. In the chapters where there are no specific cases or practice examples the aim is to encourage reflection and consideration of the ideas presented. The contributors to The Art of Social Work Practice are all experienced practitioners and academics who are not only interested in the topic, but also have a unique understanding of the subject matter. The book will be of particular interest and benefit to practitioners, students and academics who want to take a fresh look at familiar social work concepts, themes and ideas.