Essential Theory for Social Work Practice
Chris Beckett, Sage
STAR RATING: 4/5
Billed as an introductory text and resource for social work students, this book is indeed that – and much more, writes Ron Burn.
Chris Beckett has successfully produced an accessible and comprehensive account, which has much to offer experienced practitioners and practice teachers, as well as its target audience of social work students.
A major strength is the way Beckett strives to keep a sense of the “real world” running throughout. This is not an academic, theoretical, abstract account of various social work theories, but rather a practical overview, which readers can apply to their own practice.
In achieving this, the author has resisted linking his work to the current National Occupational Standards for Social Work, and refers instead to what he sees as the advocacy, change agent and executive roles played by social workers. Each of these is broken down in detail, making it easy for any worker, whatever their practice setting, to identify the roles most relevant to them and which theories are most applicable. Most readers will, I’m sure, appreciate this approach.
We are offered an overview of social work theories, ideas about change, the different roles that social workers play, and an exploration of the limits of theory, in particular the relationship between theory and practice and how each influences the other.
I was particularly taken with the chapter on “Rhetoric and Reality” which addresses the divide between the current language of social work, and actual practice. For example: what does “needs-led assessment” mean in an era of increasing eligibility criteria?
It is a long time since I last read a social work book from cover to cover. However others may approach it, I’m sure they will find it equally informative and useful.
Ron Burn is an independent trainer