Therapeutic relationships in social work : Social Development

Therapeutic relationships in social work

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Are you looking for a resource to provide you with a good foundation on how to engage with and interview your clients?

Kadushin, A. & Kadushin, G. (2013) provide you with a thorough review of what a social work interview is, an overview of the interviewing process and all its key elements, as well as guidance on how best to navigate this terrain.
It has four main sections:

  • General Orientation & Basic Concepts of Interviewing and Communication
  • Sequential Phases in the Interview Process & Associated Techniques
  • Special Problems in Interviewing:
Cross Cultural Interviewing and Problematic Interviews [The involuntary adult client and the sexually abused child]
  • The Essence of the Good Interview

Interviewing skills are key for social workers because we tend to spend a great deal of our time interviewing clients. Furthermore, these skills are the primary skills on which all other aspects of our work depend.

Some key take-aways:

  • We need to be listening carefully and operating under an assumption of ignorance so that we ask our interviewee the right questions and truly understand what our clients are saying [and their respective frames of reference].
  • Careful attention must always be paid to the therapeutic relationship; this in of itself has a significant impact on the outcome of the treatment.
  • The social worker must have two different areas of expertise:
  • Expert knowledge on how to conduct interviews and
  • Knowledge about the subject matter of the social problem(s) the client has brought to the table – its nature, origin and approaches that may improve it.
  • Interviewers must prepare [emotionally and professionally] for the interview. This preparation includes review of material about the client, sometimes homework such as obtaining relevant information to provide the client, as well as planning a general outline [purpose for the interview – what they hope to accomplish].
  • In general, the interview moves through successive stages including exploration, assessment and treatment in order to achieve a specific purpose [or purposes of the interview].
  • However, these steps are not clearly defined. The social worker has a general outline in mind and will modify it in response to what happens with the client. As the authors eloquently describe it, “the entire process is somewhat like a symphony.”
  • Techniques refer to the conscious and deliberate interventions that the social worker employs to further the objectives of an interview. Examples of some of the techniques discussed in this book include paraphrasing, reflection and confrontation.
  • “Paraphrasing is a selective reinstatement of the main ideas that resemble but is not exactly the same as the client’s statement… A good paraphrase is a condensation and crystallization of the client’s communication.” [p.158]

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