Women and Social Work

By Judith Milner.
ISBN 0 333 92245

Judith Milner discusses her use of narrative and
solution-focused approaches in her work with women and children and
her attempts to use “serious gossip” to look for “what is right [in
people’s lives] and how to use it” in promoting change in service
users’ lives.

She rejects the traditional psychoanalytical approach to problem
solving as “often unreliable” and considers that the emphasis on
problems not only pathologises the service user, but also
reinforces dominant cultural norms.

By separating the service user from the problem, Milner argues, the
worker creates a space in which users can recognise the validity of
their own expertise.

Unfortunately for the coherence of Milner’s book, accounts of her
work within this context contradict these principles. Insistent
that the service user, not the worker, is the expert in their own
lives, Milner still feels able to discourage “unacceptable goals”
in the service user. She uses highly systematised processes,
despite denying her own expertise. She promotes “respectful
uncertainty” and then quotes examples of her own counselling, which
appear both certain and directive.

Milner may produce good results – she cites many successes with
otherwise hopeless cases – but this book cannot be said to do her
work justice.

Rachel Wooller is a social worker and an outreach worker
for the Alzheimer’s Society.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.