Social Work Skills: A Practice Handbook

Social Work Skills: A Practice Handbook

Social Work Skills: A Practice Handbook

Social Work Skills: A Practice Handbook


"The second edition is very welcome and represents and extremely useful addition to theory/models texts. Pam brings a very lively style of debate to these issues and, extremely importantly, adds a critical edge which is what students require within the realm of contemporary practice." Professor Jonathan Parker, Head of Department of Social Work, University of Hull. What skills do social workers need to become effective practitioners? How can these skills be perfected and made transferable across different service user and carer groups, contexts, and countries? How can these skills be used to enhance multi-agency co-operation and collaboration? Written by an experienced academic-practitioner, the new edition of this best-selling text is updated to include the current educational, policy and practice context of social work. It includes descriptions of over fifty social work skills, with case examples to illustrate their creative use in practice. Giving a name to these skills, and being able to identify and demonstrate their effective use in contemporary social work practice, highlights the importance of an evidence based and research led approach to practice. In particular, this edition contains new material on: Social work methods, practice approaches and perspectives The knowledge base of social work and the importance of the relationship between theory and practice How the terms skill and intervention are defined and effectively applied in practice The starting point for this text is that social work is ndash; and has to be - a highly skilled activity. It is important to stress this fact because social work practitioners work with some of the most complex, unpredictable and troubling areas of human experience. For this reason, social work practice is also an intellectual activity. This calls for practitioners to acquire a 'toolbox' of skills that can be used to enable people to move forward. Social Work Skills is essential reading for all social work students and a valuable reference text for practising social workers and human service professionals.


…there are no easy remedies in social work, especially when
we are confronted daily with oppression and deprivation …

(Coulshed and Orme 1998: 3)

Social work has changed a great deal in recent years (Cree 2002). This is true of the UK and other parts of the world. However, one fundamental feature remains the same, namely that social work involves working with some of the most complex problems and perplexing areas of human experience and, for this reason, social work is–and has to be–a highly skilled activity. The complexity of this task is highlighted in the definition of social work agreed by the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) in 2001–a definition that has been incorporated into the National Occupational Standards for Social Work (TOPSS 2004: 12):

The social work profession promotes social change, problem-solving
in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of
people to enhance well-being. Utilising theories of human behaviour
and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people
interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and
social justice are fundamental to social work.


The purpose of this text is to describe this skilled activity and to identify how social work skills and interventions can be used in practice to enhance our effectiveness and help bring about positive outcomes. It focuses in particular on 50 generalist skills commonly used in social work. A number of core skills underpin the effective use of these generalist skills, namely the importance of communication and interviewing skills; observation, listening and assessment skills; problem-solving and decision-making skills; and organizational and administrative skills. The book was written to bridge a gap because few texts have been written specifically on the theme of social work skills. The fact that the first edition of this text has been translated into Spanish and Korean, and will shortly appear in Japanese and Chinese, indicates the extent of this gap. The gap has also been noted in relation to social work education and is evident in the limited coverage given to social work skills teaching on . . .

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