In Brighton & Hove relationship-based practice has been introduced across the relationship is the means by which a parent can be helped to effect change. Jun 30, What is the theory behind relationship-based social work, and what does it Placing the relationship at the heart of practice means recognising. Oct 5, Relationship based practice is a term increasingly becoming used to to their practice as a means of helping them unpick their practice but.Psychosocial and Relationship based Practice: Feedback Compilation Social Work
Often this is linked strongly to notions of expertise, application of a knowledge base, clarity and solving problems Brodie et al, This conception of professionalism may work well for certain professions but for social work it runs the risk of pushing the willingness to work with uncertainty aside and may encourage top-down directive approaches to practice.
It is easy to see that this can be tempting for students because there is an expectation that they demonstrate significant knowledge and link it to their practice.
In a research study that examined the role of emotions in social work practice with a group of Scottish social workers Ingram, it became clear that qualified practitioners also struggled with this in that they overwhelmingly agreed that they demonstrated empathy in their practice but at the same time many felt they could remove their emotions from the practice.
This suggests that those inter and intra personal aspects of social work are vulnerable to other narratives about what constitutes a social work professional. The key is to allow these reflections to take place and be embraced.
Messages about requirements of academic and practice learning — often the assessment of practice learning is tied up with two key elements: This assessment process is then combined with a range of other academic modules to lead to one hopes a graduating student. This presents a tricky balance between nurturing openness about the potential messiness of what we as individual bring to relationship building in practice and also requiring evidence of insight and knowledge that we associate with competency and professional standards.
Inevitably a key forum do this will be within the supervisory relationship between student and practice educator. Introducing the 3 Rs As I noted at the beginning, the notion of relationship based practice is not new and is linked to the core motivations of many students to become a social work practitioner. There are many sources of support and reinforcement for located within social work literature to encourage students to see relationship based practice as integral to linking theory to practice rather than in some way outside of it.
The Scottish Organisation for Practice Teaching
The core generic social work textbooks will have chapters which covers practice skills, ethics of care, use of self and service user perspectives. Furthermore, if students consider their professional codes and required standards in education, they will be encouraged to see that they can only deliver on this by making positive relationships with service users at the heart of what they do. Professionalism and relationships A renewed emphasis on relationships challenges many of the assumptions that have built up over what it is to be a professional.
Professionalism is often associated with certainty, expertise and theoretical knowledge Brodie and colleagues, Noddingshowever, distinguishes between professionalism and professionalisation. She suggests that the latter is the result of a codified and rule-bound conception of professionalism that derives from a quest for status.
There is, however, little connection between such rule-bound professionalisation and positive outcomes. Indeed, it can create a distance between social workers and clients, that a more relational form of professionalism might work to reduce. Murphy and colleagueson the other hand, suggest that the professional role significantly compromises the ability to form genuine relationships.
Part of the difficulty in reconciling different understandings of professionalism is the tendency in the UK to conceive of separate personal and professional selves.
Relationship-based practice: emergent themes in social work literature | Iriss
Practice traditions such as social pedagogy introduce a third element, the private. This poses challenges for workers and for organisations that operate to a narrow understanding of what constitutes acceptable personal and professional boundaries Maidment, It is important to distinguish between boundaries, which are dynamic and can be deployed flexibly, and barriers, which are static and prioritise consistent application.
In practice, individual practitioners act in ways that might be thought to be subversive of practice norms Alexander and Charles, Coadyfor instance, offers examples of the kind of flexibility required in negotiating everyday care practices.
One of the difficulties that can arise in increasingly managerial and regulated practice cultures, however, is a tendency to minimise the complexity of such boundary work and to operate fixed understandings of the lines between professional, personal and private domains. This leaves workers vulnerable to disciplinary action should they cross externally determined boundaries McLaughlin, This is not fixed and, as we enter relationships, we draw upon what we feel is required to engage with others within a given context.
In social work, this is made more complex by the addition of professional values, roles and expectations. Hennessey argues that this balancing act should be explicit and not shied away from; rather, it should be harnessed and used to bring about change.
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Barnes and colleagues go further and underline the interdependence between social workers and service users, where both parties bring their own experiences and contexts to the encounter, laying the foundations for a trusting and dynamic relationship. This requires a social worker to be able to develop a relationship that has a level of trust and which facilitates the sharing of emotions. This may require a degree of emotional exposure in order to truly understand the feelings of another and be able to express this in a genuine and attuned manner.
Transference and counter-transference A psychodynamic perspective can help social workers consider the impact of unconscious previous experiences within relationship building. The concept of transference reminds us that individuals can unconsciously transfer past feelings into the present. Ruch illustrates this with an example of previous negative experiences of parenting being transferred by some service users into the relationship with their social worker.
This dynamic can often be difficult to understand and manage and social workers can, in turn, find themselves reacting unconsciously, in a process known as counter-transference.
Equally, social workers need to be mindful of their own unconscious transference and how that may impact on dynamics within relationships they form. Such dynamics can be powerful and frightening, but can also be hugely helpful for social workers in understanding the inner worlds of service users and themselves.
In turn this can lead to more positive relationship building Agass, Emotional intelligence Ingram highlights the role of emotional intelligence as a trait and skill that can help social workers manage the emotional complexities of practice. Emotional intelligence can be briefly defined as the ability of an individual to: Such capacities are crucial for RBP, as they underline the existence and importance of emotions as a stream of information within social work relationships and practice Munro, Reflection and reflexivity Reflection has a long and important role in social work education and practice Knott and Scragg, Social workers are encouraged from the point of entry onto qualifying programmes to engage in reflective processes, which help unpick the feelings, thoughts and actions present in practice.
The concept of reflexivity takes this personal reflection further through consideration of what the worker themselves bring to a situation. This includes their own assumptions, preconceptions or bias — and also through encouraging the examination of wider factors such as power, culture and social exclusion. This sits very comfortably with previous discussions about self-knowledge and emotional intelligence and is a crucial element of the professional infrastructure required for RBP.
So if we are to take seriously a commitment to this kind of practice, we need to ensure that practitioners are both adequately trained and supported. One of the themes of the book is the critical importance of reflective, case-based supervision and I think all the authors would identify this as a necessary component of effective relationship-based work.
Service users have identified a number of things that they value in terms of their contact with practitioners and that contribute to a good relationship; these include: Interestingly, it is not always essential that service user and social worker agree though that may certainly make it easier to achieve whatever outcomes have been identified!
What kinds of people or cases benefit most from relationship-based social work practice? When we first started thinking about the kinds of material we wanted to include in this book, one thing became clear very early on: But how the relationship is established and managed, and what it is for, will depend on the context and the particular people involved: