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This article investigates the way in which disadvantaged minority social workers’ professional excellence is encouraged, drawing data from an analysis of primary documents and in-depth semi-structured interviews with 21 Palestinian welfare bureau managers in Israel. It finds that the Jewish voluntary sector is the sole player encouraging Palestinian minority social workers’ excellence, but its encouragement maintains the status quo regime, politicisation and alienation, and pushes towards neoliberalism. Most of the Palestinian welfare bureaus consciously prefer to avoid encouraging social workers’ excellence to avoid confrontation with the central government in the form of the Israeli Welfare Ministry. A small group of welfare bureaus sufficed with indirect encouragement, enlisting non-governmental organisations for the task because of the paucity of resources. A small number of bureaus that granted excellence certificates and a token gift applied three considerations. Excellence awards constituted a method for coping with the challenges facing Palestinian minority social work.

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The article discusses the emergency placement of children by the Norwegian Child Welfare Services. Nine mothers were interviewed about their experiences of the transfer of care of their children. Several of the mothers had their children removed due to an emergency decision. The article focuses on one of these stories and analyses the way in which emergency placement can be seen as a form of communication and practice. The purpose of this article is to generate knowledge about how the concept of ‘zero tolerance’ is used to legitimise emergency placements and how this practice might cause more harm than benefits for individual children. The article’s analytical perspective is grounded in the systems theory of Niklas Luhmann.

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For-profit companies have begun competing with women’s shelters for ‘clients’ trying to escape violence. Using discourse theory, this study examines how 20 private shelters describe their business. The analysis shows that private shelters describe themselves as: (1) having a broad expertise and target group: (2) being able to tend to the individual needs of any client; and (3) being highly available and flexible. We understand this as an expression of a neoliberal market discourse and as a way to differentiate themselves from women’s shelters. This may put pressure on women’s shelters to provide similar ‘inclusion’, availability and flexibility. Furthermore: (4) private shelters contribute to shaping a desirable neoliberal subject, that is, a self-reliant woman; and (5), by articulating needs as individual and inherently mundane, they lean more towards ‘providing accommodation’ than addressing the particularities of (gendered) violence.

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This textbook offers students and practitioners an accessible introduction to strengths-based approaches in Social Work and Social Care practice. Covering the theory and research in support of these approaches, and packed full of case studies, the book will allow readers to develop a critical understanding of how strengths-based approaches work, and how they can be successfully applied in order to improve outcomes for people with lived experience.

Covering the five main models of strengths-based practice, the text presents international research and evidence on the efficacy of each approach, enabling students and practitioners to apply the benefits in their own social work practice. The guide features the perspectives of people with lived experience throughout and includes the following key learning features:

  • case studies of best practice;

  • points for practice: succinct tips for practitioners and students on practice placement;

  • further reading list and resources;

  • glossary.

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This chapter reminds the reader of the different models of strengths-based practice discussed in the text. It emphasises that there may be some gaps in practice, but this is in areas where strength-based practice is under-utilised and -researched. It reminds readers of Saleebey’s (1992) 3-CPR model, which argues that strengths-based approaches should focus on the following:

C – competence, capacities, courage

P – promise, positive expectations

R – resilience, reserves, resources

The importance of Chapter 10, which focuses on the voices of those with lived experience of strengths-based approaches, is emphasised, as these are the people that practitioners are accountable to and should build positive relationships with. The importance of relationship-based practice is also emphasised here.

The chapter goes on to remind readers of some of the barriers to implementing strengths-based approaches in practice and the danger of the approaches becoming a core mechanism of a neo-liberal, individualised framework to social work. The chapter ends with a discussion of the importance of having a well-trained social work workforce and well-resourced social work services, both of which are key to the effective implementation of strengths-based approaches.

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This chapter considers the roots, philosophy, main tenets and practice of Family Group Conferences (FGCs). It begins with an overview of the history of the approach and its introduction into the UK in the early 1990s. It goes on to consider the philosophy of and provides a theoretical exploration of FGCs. The chapter explores how practice has developed both internationally and in the UK in both a children and families social work context and the burgeoning practice in adult social care. It provides a critical discussion on the relevant literature and research, providing a review of the international evidence base on the efficacy of FGCs in social work practice. The chapter ends with a case study of how FGCs have been used in practice and concludes with suggestions for further reading.

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This chapter provides an overview of strengths-based approaches to social work practice. It begins with a comprehensive definition of what is meant by the strengths-based perspective and how it is applied in both a children-and-families and an adult social work context. It refers to underpinning legislation, guidance and policy and considers the principles and values of the approach and how these apply to the professional capabilities framework used in social work assessment and practice. The chapter takes a critical approach and discusses the potential for strengths-based approaches to be misused within a neo-liberal practice context, for example, as a way for local authorities to save money and locate the root of service users’ issues within the individual rather than the environmental context. Finally, it gives an overview of some of the research findings in strengths-based practice and their application to practice.

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This book is aimed at social work students and social work practitioners. It brings together the key strengths-based approaches used in social work practice, providing individual introductory chapters on each of the main approaches applied in social work practice, drawing upon research and evidence from practice.

The book begins with an introduction to strengths-based approaches, their origins and current application in practice. It moves on to explore the theoretical underpinning and core principles, before locating strengths-based approaches in sociological, psychological and social work theory. It then explores the following areas of practice: solution-focused practice, Family Group Conferences, Signs of Safety and strengths-based approaches in adult social care and adult mental health. It also provides a chapter exploring the voices of those with lived experience. Each of the practice-based chapters provides a case study from practice and suggestions for further reading.

The book presents a critical approach to strengths-based approaches and, while emphasising the benefits and efficacy of each individual approach, acknowledges throughout the difficulty of applying strengths-based approaches in a neo-liberal society and a risk-averse and bureaucratic social work system.

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This chapter explores the origins of the narrative approach and its theoretical basis. It explores the application of the approach to social work practice, as an alternative to professional-led and task-focused conversations with service users. The chapter goes on to explore the research and evidence base on the efficacy of the approach in supporting services users to affect positive change.

The chapter explores the key principles of the narrative approach and uses a case example to demonstrate how these principles apply in practice. It concludes with suggestions for further reading.

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Authors: , , and
People with Lived Experience

This chapter focuses on the voices of those who have experienced strengths-based approaches to social work practice and provides individual accounts of those experiences. Family members have been supported to share their experiences with the authors, having been identified and supported by practitioners. The chapter starts with a discussion on the importance of hearing the voices of people with lived experience and how doing so differs from traditional approaches to social work practice, before moving on to presenting the voices of those with lived experience of different strengths-based models. Accounts and identifying features have been anonymised, and permission has been sought from people with lived experience to share their experiences.

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