Counselling Skills in Social Work Practice

By Janet Seden | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Assessment: relevant counselling skills

Chapters 1 and 2 considered the relationship between counselling and social work and outlined how the basic communication and relationship-building skills which underpin counselling remain relevant when applied appropriately to social work processes, whatever the political, economic and social contexts. The next six chapters each consider a component of social work practice as articulated in the six key roles in the National Occupational Standards for social work (Topss 2003a) and six standards for qualifying social work in Scotland (www.scotland.gov.uk) Each chapter also draws from the associated benchmarking, codes of practice and other guidance associated with the degree in social work where relevant.

Each topic is examined from social work's knowledge and theory base. Alongside this, practice examples and a discussion of linked counselling skills for communication and relationship building continue to show how these can be embedded in the day-to-day actions of professionals and promote better practices. This chapter considers the assessment of individuals, their families, carers groups and communities and the skills needed to prepare for assessment (Key Role 1, Standard 1) of people's needs and circumstances.

Assessment is central to social work and should be viewed as a process, not as an isolated event. It is in itself an intervention that may create change. It is not static, re-evaluation happens within the process as it goes along. The outcome of assessment is usually the provision of services and it is frequently used by agencies as the gateway to resources. Assessments are to be undertaken in partnership with service users; however, it can be questioned how much this can be reality when social workers have the power and resources for a range of interventions and services users do not.

The bureaucratic approach can sometimes be heard in offices as social workers speak of going to 'do an assessment'. This is surprising as the same social workers might notice and deplore the medical habit of referring to patients as the 'bodies' or 'conditions'. In this chapter the terms 'assessment' and 'assessment process' are used to describe work with people in their social contexts, with the

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