The carrot or the stick?
Towards effective practice with involuntary clients in safeguarding children work
Edited by Martin C. Calder

To see sections of this book in a PDF, please click here.

It is a fact of everyday work in safeguarding children - including child protection, family support, domestic violence, youth justice - that many practitioners and managers struggle to engage clients who resist involvement with services that are needed or offered, often with wearying and dispiriting effect on everyone.

Yet, despite the clear need to improve concepts and strategies in work with involuntary clients, insufficient theoretical and practice research activity focuses on systematically developing innovative approaches in work with: children and young people who are at risk or in need for any reason, including posing a risk to others; parents and carers, who might be caring, violent, abusive, neglectful, abused, at risk or in need themselves, or just not coping; anyone else who abuses or neglects to safeguard a child or young person, in a family, organisation or community.

The carefully selected chapters in this book offer systematic and evidence-based approaches to work with all such clients in all relevant circumstances. They are 'no-nonsense' approaches that will fit with practice wisdom and practice realities. They consider work with clients who: actively seek help in solving problems and in achieving personal goals; only accept services when legally mandated or institutionalized; show varying degrees of motivation at different times, towards different services, or within their family or group.

Reflecting the importance of inter-agency approaches in policy, practice and training, the book draws from several different professional groups and disciplines, and will be of value to each of them. For staff in the social care and criminal fields, psychologists, counsellors, as well as managers, trainers, researchers, policy-makers and students, it devotes special attention to:
  • Strategies for making and maintaining working relationships to achieve practice objectives with clients in the new, broad and developing contexts of safeguarding children
  • The theoretical evidence-base, emerging research and developing practice wisdom
  • Concepts of consent and coercion; and frameworks for understanding and working with motivation, resistance and change
  • Engagement of children, young people, men/fathers as well as women/mothers in the intervention process
  • Links between risk assessment - including risks to staff - and work with involuntary clients
  • Innovative ways of enhancing their clients' motivation and helping them to change, not only in how they respond to services, but also in what they had been doing that caused the services to need to be delivered or offered.

  • This book can:
  • help anyone in training to enter the workplace with a sense that they can succeed, not only when assistance is sought, but also when others choose not to engage.
  • rekindle confidence and enthusiasm amongst those who have already experienced trying to address entrenched resistance without adequate help or guidance.

  • Large format paperback. 2008. 320 pages. 9781905541225. £49.95


    For all practitioners, managers, trainers, researchers and policy-makers in social care, welfare, education, justice, health and mental health who are involved the wide spectrum of safeguarding children work, which includes child protection, family support, domestic abuse and youth offending/justice. Also an essential reference text for students on many courses, especially in social work at degree and PQ levels.



    Understanding the Current Context

    Involuntary clients: a review of the literature
    Chris Trotter

    The changing landscape of social care: implications for working with involuntary clients
    Trevor Spratt, Queen's University Belfast

    Engaging with children: the political dimension
    Nick Turnbull, University of Manchester and Toby Fattore, University of Sydne

    Informed consent: options and challenges
    Eileen Gambrill

    Introducing Broad Frameworks

    A closer look at client engagement: understanding and assessing engagement from the perspectives of workers and clients in non-voluntary child protection service cases
    Diane Yatchmenoff

    Assessment and decision-making in child protection: relationship-based considerations
    Michelle Lefevre, University of Sussex

    Building relationships with involuntary clients in child protection: lessons from successful practiceKen Barter, Memorial University of Newfoundland

    Working with involuntary clients in child protection practice: lessons from successful practice
    Andrew Turnell, Resolutions Consultancy, Perth, Australia, Sue Lohrbach and Scott Curran, both at Olmsted County Child and Family Services in Rochester, Minnesota and University of Minnesota in St Paul

    Contracting strategies for working with involuntary clients
    Ronald H. Rooney, University of Minnesota

    A framework for working with resistance, motivation and change
    Martin C. Calder, Calder Training and Consultancy

    Social work with involuntary clients in child protection work
    Brian Littlechild, University of Hertfordshire

    A framework for family empowerment: tools for working with involuntary clients
    Judith Bula Wise, Professor Emerita, Bryn Mawr College

    Engaging children, young people and their families via family group conferences
    Peter Marsh, University of Sheffield

    Partnership between health visitors and parents
    Christine Bidmead and Professor Sarah Cowley

    Working With Specific Client Groups

    Treating resistance in sex offenders: enhancing motivationMark Carich, Sarah Williamson and Gerry Dobkowski, Big Muddy River Correctional Center, Illinois Department of Corrections

    Engaging sexually abusive youth in treatment
    Phil Rich, Stetson School residential treatment program, Massachusetts

    Working with parents for family safety where domestic violence is a child protection issue
    Erica Flegg, University of Edinburgh, and Calvin Bell, Director of Ahimsa (Safer Families) Ltd and Centre for Forensic and Family Psychology, Birmingham University

    Working with mothers in situations of sexual and domestic abuse: reframing resistance as restricted choices
    Martin C. Calder, Calder Training and Consultancy, and Lynda Regan

    Engaging substance mis-users through coercion
    Phil Harris, Bristol University Social Policy Unit and independent practitioner.


    Martin C. Calder
    established Calder Training and Consultancy in 2005 after 20 years in frontline child protection practice. His aim has been to generate and collate the available and necessary assessment tools for frontline staff, especially in times of massive change. He also critiques central government guidance and attempts to provide remedial materials to help fill the gap left between aspiration and reality. He is contactable through his website at


    "There is some excellent material in this book on a subject that challenges all child care practitioners: how do we work with service users who don't want to work with us?

    "The book ranges from the theoretical to the practical in responding to this question, which makes moving between chapters challenging for the reader. The most useful chapter is Martin Calder's, which offers a very useable framework for working with involuntary clients. This chapter would offer busy practitioners some useful tools." Community Care

    "The carefully selected chapters in this book offer systematic and evidence-based approaches." ChildRIGHT

    "Extensive, yet concise and widely referenced, yet practical, this book is relevant to practitioners, managers and planners. Accessible for students and teachers, the text is like effective practice - engaging, well structured, disciplined and encouraging… A motif emerging repeatedly in this richly layered text is that 'coercion should not replace engagement as the central force in change'." Rostrum