The Blackwell Companion to Social Work 4e
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Fully revised and restructured, this fresh edition offers students and trainee social workers an incisive and authoritative introduction to the subject. As well as entirely new sections on theory and practice, the expert contributions which have shaped the companion’s leading reputation have been updated and now include innovative standalone essays on social work theory.

  • Comprehensively reworked new edition comprising six substantive sections covering essential topics for trainee social workers – in effect, six books in one
  • Includes an extensive introduction and chapters by leading experts on the focus and purpose of social work
  • Provides a unified textbook for trainees and an invaluable professional reference volume
  • Features a wealth of new material on theory and practice alongside detailed expositions of the social and psychological framework, stages in the human life cycle, and the objectives and core components of social work
  • Each chapter lists five key points to remember, questions for discussion, and recommendations for further reading


Martin Davies is Emeritus Professor at the University of East Anglia, UK, where he taught the university's Social Work in Society course for 20 years. He came to UEA after a distinguished research career in the UK Home Offi ce and at Manchester University, where he taught criminology, research methods, and research applications. The founding director of UEA's graduate programme in Social Work, he has authored and edited 12 books, including the previous editions of this volume, as well as more than a hundred scholarly papers.


Notes on Contributors xi

Introduction xv

Book 1 Social Work’s Psychosocial Framework 1

1.1 Social Work and Society 3
Viviene E. Cree

1.2 Social Work and Politics 19
Mark Drakeford

1.3 Gendering the Social Work Agenda 31
Audrey Mullender

1.4 Culture, Ethnicity and Identity 37
Kwame Owusu-Bempah

1.5 Families 47
Graham Allan

1.6 Sexuality, Sexual Relationships and Social Work 57
Siobhan Canavan and Seamus Prior

1.7 Psychology and Social Work 69
Brigid Daniel

Book 2 The Human Life Cycle 83

2.1 Infancy 85
Gillian Harris

2.2 Childhood 93
Gillian Schofield

2.3 Adolescence 101
John Coleman

2.4 Partnership and Parenting 109
Janet Walker

2.5 Late Life Ageing 121
Ian Philp

Book 3 When Social Work is Needed 127

3.1 Family Disruption and Relationship Breakdown 129
Jane Boylan and Graham Allan

3.2 Child Abuse 139
John Devaney

3.3 Domestic Violence 151
Cathy Humphreys

3.4 Ill Health 159
Eileen McLeod and Paul Bywaters

3.5 Physical Disability 167
Deborah Marks

3.6 The Challenge of Later Life 175
Chris Phillipson

3.7 Mental Illness 183
Peter Huxley

3.8 Learning Disabilities in Adults 193
Kirsten Stalker and Carol Robinson

3.9 Alcohol or Other Drug Problems 203
Sarah Galvani

3.10 Modern Migration and the Creation of the Refugee 215
Debra Hayes

Book 4 Social Work in Practice 221

4.1 Social Work Practice and Relationship Breakdown 223
Simon Ward

4.2 Social Work Practice and Child Abuse 231
Jess McCormack

4.3 Social Work Practice and Domestic Violence 241
James Evans

4.4 Social Work Practice in Healthcare 249
Bridget Penhale

4.5 Social Work Practice and People with Physical and Sensory Impairments 259
Pam Thomas

4.6 Social Work Practice and the Challenge of Later Life 267
Sandy Sieminski

4.7 Social Work Practice and Mental Illness 275
Barbara Hatfi eld

4.8 Social Work Practice and Learning Disabilities 283
Ian Buchanan

4.9 Social Work Practice, Alcohol and Other Drug Problems 291
Wulf Livingston

4.10 Social Work Practice, Asylum Seekers and Refugees 299
Benedict Fell

Book 5 Social Work’s Core Components 309

5.1 Assessment, Intervention and Review 311
Jonathan Parker

5.2 Care Management 321
Aisha Hutchinson

5.3 Risk Assessment and Risk Management 333
Hazel Kemshall

5.4 Welfare Rights Practice 343
Neil Bateman

5.5 Interviewing and Relationship Skills 355
Janet Seden

5.6 Groupwork 369
Mark Doel

5.7 Ethics 379
Richard Hugman

5.8 The Law 387
Alison Brammer

Book 6 Social Work’s Theory Base 397

6.1 Relating Theory to Practice 399
David Howe

6.2 Twenty-Four Theories for Social Work 407

6.2.1 Anger Management 409
David Leadbetter

6.2.2 Anti-Oppressive Practice 414
Beverley Burke

6.2.3 Attachment Theory 417
David Howe

6.2.4 Behaviourism 420
Robert Jordan

6.2.5 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 423
Barbra Teater

6.2.6 Crisis Theory 428
Jackie Skinner

6.2.7 Critical Perspectives 432
Jan Fook

6.2.8 Desistance 435
Beth Weaver

6.2.9 Theories of Empowerment 439
Jerry Tew

6.2.10 Family Practices 443
Christine Jones

6.2.11 Feminist Theory 446
Bec Buss

6.2.12 Maintenance Theory 449
Martin Davies

6.2.13 Motivational Interviewing (MI) 451
Barbra Teater

6.2.14 Narrative Therapy 455
Stephen Madigan

6.2.15 Person-Centred Practice 459
Ali Gardner

6.2.16 Psychodynamic Theory: The Essential Elements 463
Jack Nathan

6.2.17 Signs of Safety 466
Joe Smeeton

6.2.18 Social Behaviour and Network Therapy 469
Joy Barlow

6.2.19 Social Constructionism 473
Derek Jones

6.2.20 Social Pedagogy 477
Mark Smith

6.2.21 Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) 480
Barbra Teater

6.2.22 Strengths-Based/Resilience Theory 484
Aisha Hutchinson

6.2.23 Systems Approaches 488
Joe Smeeton

6.2.24 Task-Centred Practice 492
Peter Marsh

Legislation and Related Matters Index 497

Name Index 499

Subject Index 511


“Since its first appearance The Blackwell Companion to Social Work has never been off our recommended reading lists. It provides a comprehensive and in-depth 'one-stop' for students, academics and practitioners seeking the most thoughtful contemporary insights to the complexities of modern social work practice. Look no further.”—Gary Clapton, University of Edinburgh

“This book continues to be an important source of reference both for the discipline and the profession of social work. In its revised form, the book manages to keep pace with the rapid changes that are taking place in social work without sacrificing breadth or depth. It will prove an invaluable teaching tool and a reliable starting point for more sustained and detailed inquiry.”—Ian Butler, University of Bath