Sociwal work models, methods and theories
A framework for practice
Second edition

By Paul Stepney and Deirdre Ford

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Now more than ever, social workers face the crucial challenge of balancing the need to be effective and evidence-based, while seeking to promote more critical and emancipatory change. Against a backdrop of the global economic recession which has led to severe constraints on welfare spending, the debate about what constitutes good social work practice has become highly contested. In the aftermath of the death of Peter Connelly, social work in England, the other parts of the UK and elsewhere has found itself subject to intense media inquiry and political scrutiny. In England, this has resulted in the Social Work Reform Board (the government body appointed to review professional standards) devising a new professional capabilities framework. The framework includes requirements for social workers to have a good knowledge of the social sciences and practice theory, the capacity for critical reflection and analysis, and significantly, the skill to translate all of this into effective intervention. It is therefore vitally important to revisit the theoretical knowledge base underpinning practice, and to review and update a range of social work methods and models.

Against this challenging backdrop the second edition of this best-selling text has taken shape. Social work models, methods and theories assists undergraduate, postgraduate and post-qualifying students, lecturers, practitioners, service users and carers, policy-makers - anyone who seeks to understand social work. Uniquely, it:
  • offers a systematic examination of different methods, models and practice theories by a range of respected academics and practitioners, several of them renowned world authorities
  • sets these ideas in a clear and accessible framework of practice in changing political, economic and social contexts
  • considers future developments in an international context influenced by themes such as critical social work, research minded practice and emerging political trends.

  • Acclaimed when initially published in 2000, Social Work Models, Methods and Theories 'claims and reclaims the terrain of social work practice as one in which competence must mean the ability to work with complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty; an essential message for our times.' Child and Family Social Work. 'A vital antidote to the loss of credibility experienced by government and the dissonance experienced by practitioners on the front line.' Community Care.

    Now thoroughly reviewed, updated and extended, it is 'an important contribution to the literature... the chapters are scholarly and accessible and will prove invaluable as both an introduction to the field and as a resource for the more experienced practitioner.' Professor Nigel Parton, writing in the preface to the 2012 edition.

    By contextualizing current practice and organizational dilemmas, it aims to
  • make a contribution, both to the education and training of social workers as well as to their continuing professional development
  • create the conditions for critical thinking and critical reflection
  • provide the basis for finding more creative solutions to society's problems - solutions that balance effectiveness with a commitment to social justice.

  • Drawing on the international literature, a major strength of the book is the contextualising of social work methods, models and theories in a global setting. The exploration of core concepts and ideas by internationally acclaimed writers, thinkers and teachers will appeal to audiences across the globe. The book is designed to stimulate debate and critical reflection about social work, and how theory can enhance and enrich practice everywhere.

    Paperback. 328 pages. 9781905541836. Published 2012. £23.95.


    Social work: undergraduate, postgraduate and post-qualifying students, lecturers, practitioners, service users and carers, policy-makers - anyone who seeks to understand social work - and libraries that serve them.


    Preface Nigel Parton
    Introduction Paul Stepney & Deirdre Ford
    The Wider Context for Practice
    An overview of the wider policy context Paul Stepney
    An introduction to social work theory, practice and research Paul Stepney
    Rethinking the social work theory to practice debate Malcolm Payne
    Anti-racism and social work Deirdre Ford
    Social Work Methods Re-evaluated
    Psychodynamic thinking in social work practice Maggie John & Pamela Trevithick
    Crisis intervention as common practiceWing Hong Chui & Deirdre Ford
    Task-centred practice in challenging times Peter Ford & Karen Postle
    Cognitive-behavioural methods in social care: a look at the evidence Brian Sheldon
    Counselling and contemporary social work Avril Bellinger & Frances Fleet
    Ecological systems theory and direct work with children and families Peter Henriques & Graham Tuckley
    Community social work Paul Stepney & Keith Popple
    Existentialist practice Neil Thompson
    Empowerment: help or hindrance in professional relationships? Lena Dominelli
    Groupwork theory and practice Pamela Trevithick
    The Future of Practice in an International Context
    Critical social work Mel Gray, Paul Stepney & Stephen A. Webb
    Research minded practice in social work Martyn Jones
    The Big Society and social work: a new direction for Practice? Bill Jordan


    Deirdre Ford is a qualified social worker and Lecturer in Social Work who for ten years combined an academic career at Exeter University with practice, working with people who have a learning disability and mental health problems, prior to taking up a full-time post at Plymouth University in 2002. She has worked extensively with service user and carer groups in both social work education and practice. Recent research interests and publications stem from practice developments related to Safeguarding Adults, and Downs Syndrome and dementia.

    Paul Stepney has recently been appointed as an adjunct Professor of Social Work and Kone Foundation Research Fellow at the University of Tampere in Finland. Prior to this he has taught at universities in Hull, Manchester, Exeter and more recently Wolverhampton, UK. For many years he worked as a community worker, generic social worker and during the 1990s combined university teaching at Exeter University with a hospital social work post. He has researched and published in the area of critical practice developing strategies of prevention alongside protection. He has published a number of articles on critical practice in Australian, UK and US journals, and has recently set up a comparative research project in two European cities to investigate these issues and explore how preventive practice might be developed. He is co-author of two books: i) co-editor with Deirdre Ford (2000) Social Work Models, Methods and Theories: A Framework for Practice, Russell House Publishing; ii) co-author with Keith Popple (2008) Social Work and the Community: a critical context for practice, Palgrave Macmillan.


    "A very comprehensive book... seeks to challenge the reader or practitioner to take stock of the way that they practise and to view this in the wider context of both social policy and social inequalities and the impact that each has on practice and the impact that practice has on the individual... there are many highlights... of use to both the student and experienced practitioner. It is not just an exposition of theory but rather an aid to critical thinking of how and why we do what we do as practitioners." Rostrum.