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Preview: British Journal of Social Work - Advance Access

The British Journal of Social Work Advance Access

Published: Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:51:55 GMT


Beyond the Research–Practice Gap: The Development of an Academic Collaborative Centre for Child and Family Social Work


The gap between research and practice has been a long-standing challenge in social work (e.g. Richmond, 1917; Rubin, 2014). Partnership structures between research facilities and social care organisations are seen as a possible way forward, but knowledge on how such partnerships can be successfully elaborated and implemented in local social work practices is scarce. In this article, we elaborate on our experiences in building an academic collaborative centre (ACC): a long-term partnership between a social service organisation and a university (see also ACCs for public health in the Netherlands, e.g. Garretsen et al., 2007; Molleman and Fransen, 2012; Jansen et al., 2015). Starting from the conceptual framework of Thompson et al. (2009), we open up the black box of our collaboration project and give insight into what turned out to be a long and messy but also a very rich and insightful process. We conclude by identifying three important aspects to implementing a research–practice partnership in local social work practice: (i) informal contacts between the different stakeholders and knowledge brokering, (ii) collaborative research projects and (iii) a general framework of mutuality and agreement in which differences can safely exist and negation can take place.

Hide and Seek: Political Agency of Social Workers in Supporting Families Living in Poverty


It is argued that recent shifts and changes in welfare paradigms have induced a depolitisation of the problem of poverty, within both society and organisational settings. In this contribution, we adopt the idea that social workers are political actors who co-construct policy in practice rather than passive objects of these developments. While researching their agency, our attempt is to engage in the underexposed question of how front line workers, who are identified as supportive by families in poverty, actively use and shape this discretion in order to develop practices of support that embrace the concerns and life worlds of welfare recipients. From a systemic understanding of social workers’ political agency, we explore their strategies and decision-making processes in dynamic interaction with conditions and strategies at organisational, inter-organisational and governmental levels. Lister’s theoretical framework, which takes into account this interplay between agency and structure, provided inspiration for the analysis. Our findings address how practitioners’ commitments to seek meaningful interventions often remain hidden or risk reinforcing the same processes of depolitisation that are initially contested. We therefore suggest the development of communicative spaces, which reflect a different understanding of accountability and transparency that enables the promotion of welfare rights.

Critically Reflecting on the Australian Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics: Learning from a Social Work Field Placement


When a student experienced a personally challenging situation during field placement, she and her field supervisor worked through the scenario together, using a process of critical reflection. Many ideas and assumptions were unsettled for both, and aspects of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) Code of Ethics were questioned. Using critical reflection as a pedagogical tool, we reflect on how discourses affect our practice. We demonstrate this by undertaking a political reading of the AASW Code of Ethics. Our analysis exposes tensions between the core social work value of ‘respect for persons’ and the practice responsibility of social workers to undertake culturally competent, safe and sensitive practice. We suggest that the Code of Ethics is predominantly embedded in Kantian philosophy and limits our ability to practise in culturally sensitive ways, as it denies the impact that knowledge and power have on our work with Indigenous communities specifically, and all non-Western peoples more broadly.

Undergraduate Student Experiences with Text-Based Online Counselling


Online counselling is gaining momentum in the field of social work. The aim of this study was to understand the benefits, challenges and user experiences of a text-based online counselling programme for undergraduate students. Hosted by a social work school in a large, urban university in Canada, the counselling programme trains Master of Social Work (MSW) student counsellors to provide service online as well as offline. Qualitative content analysis was employed to analyse transcripts of 385 e-mail sessions and eighty-five chat exchanges between twenty-two MSW student counsellors and thirty-three undergraduate clients. Analysis identified advantages (increased accessibility, flexibility and immediacy; allowing room for reflections; increased sense of safety) and disadvantages (technical difficulties and increasing ‘work-load’). This study provides evidence of the unique benefits and challenges of online counselling with undergraduate clients and illuminates user experiences that illustrate the uniqueness of online counselling practice.