Sexual Issues in Social Work
Steve Myers and Judith Milner,
Star rating: 5/5
This comprehensive review of research on sexual issues in social work also provides guidance on working more effectively in this sensitive area, writes Elspeth Loades.
It explores how a “heteronormative” outlook affects our services to a wide range of people who do not fit within the hetero sexual norm.
Tracing the route of current practice through Freud and feminism, the authors deconstruct established practice and guide the reader towards “constructive practice based on post-modern thinking”.
They criticise current “tick box” practice in social work, such as risk assessments and checklists, and query the effectiveness of traditional therapies.
The book promotes the use of narrative and solution-focused therapies, particularly in working with people with sexually harmful behaviour. It includes numerous case studies to challenge readers to examine their own values and improve their practice.
The content is intriguing, challenging and thought provoking. It should appeal to people who remember that they came into social work to do more than tick boxes.
The advice given and direction promoted is persuasive and refreshing. (However, while I accept the authors’ statement that social workers can and do work with sexual issues all the time, I am unconvinced that they have a valid role in inquiring into the sex lives of people grieving the loss of their child through care proceedings.)
In conclusion, the authors reflect that their intention is to help to develop the skills and knowledge that social workers need to intervene in sexual matters confidently and effectively. They do that brilliantly.
Elspeth Loades is a local authority planning management as an adviser.