‘Stumbling through’? Relationship-based social work practice in austere times

Hingley-Jones, Helen and Ruch, Gillian (2016) ‘Stumbling through’? Relationship-based social work practice in austere times. Journal of Social Work Practice, 30 (3). pp. 235-248. ISSN 0265-0533

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In recent times relationship-based practice has become a familiar term in social work practice and education. Despite its widespread adoption, how relationship-based practice is understood varies widely. Drawing on contemporary conceptualisations of the child and family and individuals as psychosocial subjects experiencing social suffering, this paper explores how current social work practice can be understood in the context of neoliberalism and austerity. Setting these ideas in an historical context helps to inform our understanding as to why social work seems to be the focus of sustained political discontent and scrutiny, making it difficult to retain a balanced relationship-based professional stance. Contemporary responses to the current challenges of everyday practice are outlined and the contribution of psychodynamic and systemic ideas to promoting relationship-based practice is explored. The paper concludes by considering how the concept of social systems as defences against anxiety can inform our understanding of the resistance amongst practitioners to relationship-based practice and emphasises the importance of reflective spaces and places for developing and maintaining integrated, mature relational approaches to practice which impact on practice at both the individual casework and social structural level.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: L Education
Depositing User: Deeptima Massey
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2016 12:10
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 17:15
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/65969

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