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Patterns of practice: an exploratory factor analysis of child and family social worker skills

Forrester, Donald, Killian, Mike, Westlake, David and Sheehan, Lucy 2020. Patterns of practice: an exploratory factor analysis of child and family social worker skills. Child and Family Social Work 25 (1) , pp. 108-117. 10.1111/cfs.12664
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There is relatively little research on the communication skills that social workers use in direct practice with families. This study explores patterns of practice skill found in child and family social work home visits. The study analysed 127 practice interactions in family homes, coding for seven dimensions of worker skill using a coding framework drawn from motivational interviewing. Exploratory factor analysis was employed to establish patterns of skill within the data and to group key dimensions of skill. The findings make two contributions. First, three fundamental dimensions of good practice emerged, which we characterize as care and engagement, good authority, and support for behaviour change. Second, in exploring the relationship between “care” and “control” elements of social work, skilled social workers were able to combine good authority and empathic engagement, whereas those who were less skilled in use of authority were also less good at engagement. This contributes to debates about care and control in social work. The usefulness of these dimensions for conceptualizing practice in child and family social work is discussed and directions for further research are suggested.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1356-7500
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 August 2019
Date of Acceptance: 15 June 2019
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2020 17:00

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