Communication in Social Work Practice

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Communication in Social Work Practice - Essay
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1 Social Work Theory & Practice. The Importance of Communication Skills in Social Work Practice. Introduction. Social work is a professional activity. Implicit in its practice are ethical principles, which prescribe the professional responsibility of the social worker. The primary objective of the code of ethics is to make implicit principles explicit for the protection of clients. (BASW, 1976). According to Thompson (2000) Social work involves working with some of the most disadvantaged sections of the community and with people who, for a variety of reasons, are experiencing major problems and distress, often with unmet needs and other difficulties that may at times seem intractable. Lishman (1994) purports a broader definition of Social Work, which involves entering into the lives of people who are in distress, conflict or 2 trouble. To do this requires not only technical competence but also qualities of integrity, genuineness and self-awareness. The Central Council for Education and Training in Social work (United Kingdom) has also set out core skills and characteristics for Social work outlined as follows; The importance of being able to communicate and engage, To be able to promote and enable, To achieve success in planning and accessing information, Intervening appropriately and providing services when necessary, Working competently with other organisations, Developing overall professional competence. So not only do social works need to adhere to ethics and values, they must also look inside themselves as people and seek out the skills necessary to work with various client groups and organisations. As mentioned, communication skills are vitally important, along with listening and analytical skills. But it is also very important that the social worker be aware of him/herself, of 3 handing feelings or emotions that may arise through this line of work. Reflection is an important aspect, as well as creativity, sensitivity and humility. A major step forward in contemporary practice was the development of a Code of Ethics (1995), which further defined social work as: „ The primary focus of social work is working with individuals, families, and groups within their social context. Through the training, knowledge and skills which support a high standard of professionalism, the social work task is to facilitate and enable clients to identify options and make decisions for themselves so that they may develop strategies to effect improvement in the quality of their lives. Social work also focuses on issues of social policy, social administration and social justice and the betterment of society as a whole‟ (IASW, 1995: 1). Effective social work requires a multitude of interconnecting knowledge and skills backed up by the values, which underpin 4 good social work practice. To be able to provide a good service the social worker needs to be able to refer to, or call upon a wide body of knowledge. This knowledge base is quite extensive and detailed, as Thompson (2000,p73) points out, “practitioners are not realistically expected to know all of this knowledge base.” However a certain level of knowledge is essential, for example knowledge of the basics, things such as relevant legislation, theories and techniques involved in a particular case. Knowledge of society and the social processes and institutions is also crucial to the role of a social worker, as these are the very fabric of the profession. No amount of knowledge, on its own, at least, can be effective without the possession of skills to act upon it. Thompson (2000,p82) defines a skill as “the ability to carry out a particular activity effectively and consistently over a period of time.” The skills with which a social worker is armed must be used in conjunction with the knowledge base to reflect the values, principles, and beliefs associated with the profession....
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