• Relationship-based social work and its compatibility with the person-centred approach: Principled versus instrumental perspectives

      Murphy, David; Joseph, Stephen (2013)
      In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in social work towards relationship-based practice. In this article, we discuss the conceptualisation of relationship-based practice from a person-centred point of view and its applicability to contemporary social work. It will be shown that the person-centred point of view has a meta-theoretical basis that makes it incompatible with modern statutory social work practice. First, we outline the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of the person-centred approach and argue that a potential conflict lies at the heart of the contemporary social workers' capacity to truly accommodate person-centred theory. Next, the resurgence of interest in relationship-based practice, paying particular attention to the person-centred approach, is considered within the context and influence of risk management, managerialism and consumerism on social work. We then challenge the assumption that relationship-based social work founded on the person-centred approach legitimately supports service users' ability and capacity towards self-determination. Our challenge is based on the premise that the person-centred approach is defined by principled non-directive practice. On this basis, we conclude that a person-centred relationship-based approach to contemporary social work is untenable.
    • Trauma: A unifying concept for social work

      Joseph, Stephen; Murphy, David (2014)
      The aim is to show how traumatic stress provides a unifying concept for social work. In the last ten years, there have been significant changes in the nature of organisations that provide social care for people in the UK, with social work practice no longer confined to traditional local authority services. Increasingly, social workers are taking up posts in a variety of settings and sectors demanding new knowledge and skills. The field of traumatic stress is not currently viewed as a social work discipline. However, trauma cuts across a range of contexts and client groups and, as such, needs to be a core component of education and training in social work. The concept of trauma and recent developments in post-traumatic growth offer a new way of thinking that necessitates the development of genuinely psycho-social and relationship-based help and support for individuals, families, groups, communities and organisations affected by adversity.
    • What do service users want from mental health social work? A best-worst scaling analysis

      Challis, David; Hughes, Jane (2020)
      Despite being a profession dedicated to the empowerment of service users, empirical study of mental health social work appears dominated by the perspectives of social workers themselves. What service users value is less often reported. This study, authored by a mix of academics and service users/carers, reports a Best–Worst Scaling analysis of ten social worker ‘qualities’, representing both those highly specialist to social work and those generic to other mental health professionals. Fieldwork was undertaken during 2018 with 144 working-age service users, living at home, in five regions of England. Of specialist social work qualities, service users rated ‘[the social worker] thinks about my whole life, not just my illness’ particularly highly, indicating that person-centred approaches drawing on the social model of mental health are crucial to defining social work. However, service users did not value help accessing other community resources, particularly those who had spent the longest time within mental health services. Continuity of care was the most highly valued of all, although this is arguably a system-level feature of support. The research can assist the profession to promote the added value of their work, focusing on their expertise in person-centred care and the social model of mental health.