Communication in Social Work Practice Essay

1 Social Work Theory & A ; Practice. The Importance of Communication Skills in Social Work Practice. Introduction. Social work is a professional activity. Implicit in its pattern are ethical rules. which prescribe the professional duty of the societal worker. The primary aim of the codification of moralss is to do inexplicit rules explicit for the protection of clients. ( BASW. 1976 ) . Harmonizing to Thompson ( 2000 ) Social work involves working with some of the most deprived subdivisions of the community and with people who. for a assortment of grounds. are sing major jobs and hurt. frequently with unmet demands and other troubles that may at times seem intractable. Lishman ( 1994 ) purports a broader definition of Social Work. which involves come ining into the lives of people who are in hurt. struggle or 2 problem. To make this requires non merely proficient competency but besides qualities of unity. genuineness and self-awareness.

The Central Council for Education and Training in Social work ( United Kingdom ) has besides set out nucleus accomplishments and features for Social work outlined as follows ; The importance of being able to pass on and prosecute. To be able to advance and enable. To accomplish success in planning and accessing information. Intervening suitably and supplying services when necessary. Working aptly with other administrations. Developing overall professional competency. So non merely do societal plants need to adhere to moralss and values. they must besides look indoors themselves as people and seek out the accomplishments necessary to work with assorted client groups and administrations. As mentioned. communicating accomplishments are vitally of import. along with hearing and analytical accomplishments.

But it is besides really of import that the societal worker be cognizant of him/herself. of 3 passing feelings or emotions that may originate through this line of work. Reflection is an of import facet. every bit good as creativeness. sensitiveness and humbleness. A major measure frontward in modern-day pattern was the development of a Code of Ethics ( 1995 ) . which farther defined societal work as: „ The primary focal point of societal work is working with persons. households. and groups within their societal context. Through the preparation. cognition and accomplishments which support a high criterion of professionalism. the societal work undertaking is to ease and enable clients to place options and do determinations for themselves so that they may develop schemes to consequence betterment in the quality of their lives.

Social work besides focuses on issues of societal policy. societal disposal and societal justness and the improvement of society as a whole‟ ( IASW. 1995: 1 ) . Effective societal work requires a battalion of complecting cognition and accomplishments backed up by the values. which underpin 4 good societal work pattern. To be able to supply a good service the societal worker demands to be able to mention to. or name upon a broad organic structure of cognition. This cognition base is rather extended and elaborate. as Thompson ( 2000. p73 ) points out. “practitioners are non realistically expected to cognize all of this cognition base. ” However a certain degree of cognition is indispensable. for illustration cognition of the rudimentss. things such as relevant statute law. theories and techniques involved in a peculiar instance.

Knowledge of society and the societal procedures and establishments is besides important to the function of a societal worker. as these are the really cloth of the profession. No sum of cognition. on its ain. at least. can be effectual without the ownership of accomplishments to move upon it. Thompson ( 2000. p82 ) defines a accomplishment as “the ability to transport out a peculiar activity efficaciously and systematically over a period of clip. ” The accomplishments with which a societal worker is armed must be used in concurrence with the cognition base to reflect the values. rules. and beliefs associated with the profession. There is a broad scope of accomplishments involved in high quality societal work from basic communicating accomplishments to analytical. presentational. and direction accomplishments.

Because of the often-sensitive nature of 5 state of affairss societal workers can happen themselves in. the ability to be patient and understanding is of import. Working with kids and households is one of the largest countries covered by societal work. Insofar as a societal worker may be covering with an single client. that client’s topographic point in the household can be of critical importance to any appraisal. When working with households it is of import non to seek to mirror one’s thoughts of how a household maps. The challenge for the societal worker when working with a household is non to generalize but to seek to understand “how does this household work? ” Coulshed et Al ( 1998. p171 ) .

When covering with a household it is really of import to stay impartial. to take the clip to listen to everyone’s point of position. This attack is more likely to “encourage treatment and sharing in which the worker is free to prosecute and withdraw when the demand arises. ” Coulshed et Al ( 1998. p175 ) . Another country which societal workers are involved is with groups. This is slightly different to the household state of affairs. It besides portions things in common with community work. The function of a societal worker as a facilitator or leader of a group has many degrees. At different phases the worker has to be “central. polar. peripheral. 6 and cardinal one time once more. ” Coulshed et Al ( 1998. p198 ) .

The assorted phases of group development and the content of the phases outlined by Tuchman and Jensen. in Coulshed et Al ( 1998. p198 ) names these phases as “forming. ramping. norming. acting and adjourning. ” The function and undertakings of the societal worker are to assist acquire group members involved and to promote the development of a group bond. In the procedure of making this s/he must be watchful to stray members. dominant members and struggle within the group. to develop positively the kineticss of the group and achieve a coveted result. while run intoing the demands of all the group members impartially and without prejudice. Community societal work requires the societal worker to develop a more flexible attack necessitating such accomplishments as recognising and formalizing accomplishments and intercessions.

Traditional societal work accomplishments may necessitate to be adapted to suit into the community context. Network edifice can besides be a portion of the procedure for a societal worker. for illustration. to convey a group of people together who have similar concerns but are non in a place to ease this formation themselves. 7 In each of the above scenarios. the societal worker must accommodate to the different scenes and the figure of persons that may be present and hence use the most effectual signifier of communicating and tools necessary to pass on at different degrees. whether that involves one individual. several people or a big group. Effective Communication. Effective communicating is an indispensable constituent of traditional societal work activities e. g. supplying basic attention. giving advice. doing appraisals. reding. composing studies and moving as client’s advocators.

It is every bit necessary for societal workers to hold effectual communicating accomplishments if they are to advance self-help and authorization. Verbal communicating is what we say and includes oppugning. contemplation. concentrating. summarizing. disputing and confrontation. Verbal communicating involves the usage of linguistic communication. The accomplishments involved in prosecuting. listening. negotiating and disputing are every bit relevant to communicating in work groups and multi-disciplinary squads. Any committedness to the authorization of societal work clients is nonmeaningful if their 8 positions are neither sought nor taken into history. Silverman ( 1969 ) emphasises the importance of a non-judgemental attack.

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There are three chief countries of cognition and experience were valued by clients are outlined by Rees and Wallace ( 1982 ) . cited in Lishman ( 1994 ) Client’s valued workers who had adequate experience of life to listen non-judgementally to what they had to state. Client’s valued workers who had adequate life experience to understand client’s jobs from their ain experience. Clients appreciated specialized cognition and preparation.

Kinds of Communication. Symbolic communicating. Symbolic communicating involves behaviors. actions or communications. which represent or denote something else. As societal workers we need to be cognizant of the possible significance of 9 our representation. actions and facets of our working environment. For illustration. promptness. frock and layout of the audience room are all of import facets of symbolic communicating. Proximity needs to be considered in relation to orientation. Sommer and Cook ( 1968 ) explored different seating places and found grounds which suggested that sitting aboard a individual implies cooperation. opposite a individual competition and at right angles to each other equality of position. Therefore sitting behind a diethylstilbestrols. straight opposite a client. has distancing and power deductions but besides may be confrontational.

Although. There are no fixed regulations about position ; being excessively relaxed may convey power and heedlessness. being excessively stiff. tenseness. anxiousness and authorization. As societal workers we need to be cognizant of such subliminal support and to utilize it discriminatingly. Non-verbal communicating. Non-verbal communicating outlined by Sutton ( 1979 ) suggests that while spoken communicating is concerned chiefly with 10 information giving. non-verbal communicating is the ‘music behind the words’ conveying feelings or attitudes. Understanding people or societal perceptual experience is concerned with the manner in which people form feelings of others and do illations about the causes of their behavior to enable them to foretell and command their ain societal world. understanding the causes and motivations behind behavior is Gestural Communication or NVB. Nonverbal communicating NVB is the manner in which people communicate deliberately or accidentally without the usage of words.

Expressions. gestures. position. touch. personal infinite. oculus contact and tone of voice are used to show emotions. convey attitudes. modulate and command address and communicate personal features. NVB are examined in two ways: Information processing – how do people construe gestural cues? What kinds of illations do we do about people’s purposes based on these cues. Impression direction. Michael Argyle ( 1988 ) suggested that NVB is of import for: Expressing emotion. Conveying attitudes. 11 Communicating one’s personality traits. Facilitating verbal communications. Patterson ( 1983 ) suggests that NVB serve a figure of peculiar maps in societal interactions including: Expressing familiarity. Regulating the class of interactions. Exerting societal control and laterality.

Druckman ( 1982 ) outlined five chief utilizations to which NVB is normally put: To pass on pre-articulated feelings. feelings that can non be put into words. To supply cues to information processing enabling us to think at what another individual is believing or experiencing. To function as accents in persuasive entreaties to heighten our success at carrying others. To ease misrepresentation. To convey elusive messages. 12 The features of NVB were outlined by Dittman ( 1984 ) . There are users and beginnings of NVB. gestural behaviors are sent by encoders and received by decipherers through a assortment of different channels. Channelss of gestural communicating include facial look. oculus contact. gestures. touch. paralinguistic communication or gestural elements of address and spacial behavior.

A figure of channels are used at the same time to direct a peculiar emotional message. Behaviours sent are deliberately controlled while behaviors may be received with different degrees of consciousness. Some messages are received in full consciousness and as intended by the transmitter. whereas other messages are intentionally kept out of full consciousness and may falsify the purpose of the transmitter. A figure of different classs of NVB exist harmonizing to Ekman and Friesen ( 1969 ) : – Emblems – these are motions that are communicative replacements for words i. e. Handshaking. – Illustrators – these are motions that accompany address and accent i. e. knaping a tabular array. – Regulators – these are motions that maintain or signal a alteration in the speaker/ hearer functions i. vitamin E.

Head nods. 13 – Affect shows – these are facial looks that are used to convey emotions – Arrangers – these are ego and object uses. which relate to an single emotional. demand or province. Mehrabian ( 1972 ) suggested that NVB’s were of import for bespeaking a person’s societal orientation. Social orientation can be summarised in footings of dimensions ; each dimension reveals some facet of a person’s purpose and motive for interacting. Harmonizing to Cook ( 1968 ) NVB are used to derive fuller descriptions of persons when small information is available which we use to make full in the missing information about people. and steer our behavior while interacting. One farther manner of finding what people think and feel is to seek to supply accounts for why they behave in peculiar ways to uncover the motivations and purposes behind their actions.

This procedure is referred to as ‘Casual Attribution’ and is concerned with understanding the grounds behind the behavior of others. NVB are intended to supply us with hints to how a individual feels. enabling us to foretell and command our interactions with them. When information is losing inexplicit personality theories are used to make full in the spreads in our cognition about a individual. 14 Verbal communicating. Language consists of symbols that convey intending. regulations for uniting those symbols that can be used to bring forth an infinite assortment of messages. Peoples use spoken sound and written words to stand for objects. actions. events and thoughts. and can be combined in an infinite assortment of ways to bring forth an eternal array of fresh messages.

Written studies and records. Harmonizing to Lishman ( 1994 ) skilled are learned in action. with practise and feedback. written studies and concise record maintaining enable the aforementioned to go on. Hargie ( 1986 ) acknowledges unfavorable judgment that societal work records and studies are frequently ‘lengthy. rambling and anecdotal’ and suggests ‘written studies should be clear. concise and concentrate’ on the of import characteristics of the instance. O’Hagan ( 1986 ) calls entering ‘a important acquisition tool’ . He argues that after a crisis. elaborate examination is 15 indispensable. Such recoding facilitates larning and self-awareness by a reappraisal of the behavior. feelings. and interactions of all participants including the worker.

Doel and Lawson ( 1986 ) found that one time workers had developed ‘an synergistic recording manner. utilizing interview clip to enter the work. the measure of written stuff was reduced because it becomes more focussed. The South Eastern Health Board ( 1988 ) suggest that record maintaining and good recording techniques are of critical importance in keeping good housework pattern. easing answerability and keeping the extreme confidentiality. Under the Freedom of Information Act 1997 asserts that the client can bespeak to entree to view/ copy their records at a ulterior day of the month. Therefore it is vitally of import that all written records be update and regularly reviewed. However there are freedoms to the above. which are besides included in the FOI Act commissariats.

Harmonizing to the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing. Midwifery and Health visiting ( 1993 ) the intent of written records is to: To supply an accurate. current. comprehensive and concise information on the client from the initial appraisal onwards. 16 including a record of any factors ( physical. psychological or societal ) that appear to impact the client. To ease continuity. To supply a record of any jobs that may originate and the response taken. To supply grounds of go oning appraisals. To enter the chronology of events and the grounds for any determinations may. To supply a baseline record against which betterment can be judged. To better communicating between all members of the health care squad. Lishman ( 1994 ) suggests that statements made by the client during interview and subsequent appraisals should include the client’s statements.

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There is besides a legal duty by societal workers to keep written records. the burden being on good pattern by practicians. The function of communicating. 17 Communication is a important facet of organizing ; each and every interaction between the people who constitute the administration is communicating. Communication will be more likely to be good if it has been worked at invariably and non merely in exigencies. McKenna ( 1991 ) suggests that communicating is non merely a affair of directing messages to and from between persons and groups. It involves being cognizant of and understanding the experience of other people.

This means cognizing about the work they do and their perceptual experience of their state of affairs. Harmonizing to McKenna ( 1991 ) good horizontal communicating between directors and perpendicular communicating between directors and their work force are indispensable if function and occupation struggles is to be avoided. It hence appears that while directors at top and line direction degrees sees themselves as making a good occupation in pass oning with their immediate subsidiaries. those subsidiaries do non experience this is the instance. Effective communicating must be two-way. It must run from top to bottom and bottom to exceed – perpendicular communicating. and it must flux to and from between people at the same degree within the administration – horizontal communicating.

The alleged ordinary members control much of what happens to horizontal 18 communicating. This is communicating between people on the same hierarchal degree in an administration and involves communicating between co-worker such has squad leaders. or team members. Dutfield and Eling ( 1990 ) note that effectual communicating between people involves accomplishments in: Eliciting information. Showing information. Pull offing the emotional content of the brushs. Skills in arousing information: Questions are the most obvious manner of arousing information in any state of affairs but they may be formulated in a figure of ways: Open inquiries – give the other individual an chance to set forward their point of position without restraints. Closed inquiries are more focussed and normally let a simple yes or no type replies. Specific inquiries – focal point on facts.

The 2nd measure in effectual presentation of information involves look intoing that the information has been received and understood. 19 an chance is given to inquire inquiries. holding a treatment. feedback and inquiring inquiries. Dutfield and Eling suggest that pull offing the emotional reactions of people in formal or informal interviews and at meetings. Emotions enter in when the individual gets personally involved. This means that the nucleus portion of our self-concept appears to be under onslaught. We react defensively. Emotional reactions are themselves information and as such they take up portion of our information processing capacity. For these grounds the adept handling of the emotional content of communicating is of import in order to guarantee that struggle and ailment will does non ensue through misinterpretations.

The chief accomplishments in pull offing the emotional content of face-to-face meetings are ; Fixing good in progress for interviews. Bing cognizant of one’s sentiments and biass. Clarifying the nature of the job in behavioral footings – this involves dividing fact from sentiment. Puting up a suited topographic point and sufficient clip for the interview. 20 Using accomplishments in arousing information to acquire the other person’s positions. Acknowledge the other person’s emotional investing in the state of affairs. Stay undertaking focused. Decide a program of action for the hereafter with the individual once the emotional content has been dealt with. Follow up the meeting with a memo summarizing the understanding reached. Arrange a follow up meeting to reexamine the state of affairs.

Pull offing dialogue by Rackham and Carlisle ( 1978 ) : Because people perceive state of affairss otherwise their worlds differ. the demand to negociate is a changeless portion of societal life. The attacks to dialogue are as follows: Distributive bargaining – a win/lose place. Underliing this attack is the thought that resources are finite and that each side tries to maximize the additions for itself go forthing the other side to settle for less. Win/lose schemes may give short-run additions but are normally less effectual in the long term ; 21 parties involved in the dialogue are normally involved in a long-run relationship with each other. Integrative bargaining – win/win attacks aims to work out jobs in such a manner that both sides gain something that they want. Win/win attacks to negociating are recommended when the parties concerned will hold to populate and work together over the long term.

Lose/lose bargaining – in this state of affairs struggle between the parties is likely to be personalised. parties would instead paralyze or destruct the administration instead than make an understanding. Approachs to negotiation do the undermentioned premises about human psychological science: Peoples are rational decision-makers at all times. Peoples have unlimited information processing capacity which allows them to take into history all possible options and all possible results. Peoples possess and understand all relevant information. Thus it is an of import portion of the procedure of negociating successfully to: 22 Supply all relevant information. Ensure that its deductions are clear to all concerned. Give clip for the information to be considered. Be unfastened to a reconsideration of the information in the visible radiation of other points of position. Be willing to raise dissensions in a constructive and non-combatitive mode.

Rackham and Carlisle ( 1978 ) defined the skilled negotiant as a individual who as the ability to accomplish an result with which participants were satisfied. Skilled negotiants: Use their societal webs to acquire their message through to the other side through different people. Repeat their chief subject so that it becomes clear and people can see its deductions. Label their actions themselves so that they can non be mislabelled by others. Test their apprehension of what others are stating to them by sum uping and repeating the content back to the other side. 23 Show that they are go toing and listening to the other side by inquiring inquiries about their proposals. Do non differ outright but probe the deductions. Avoid doing a proposal at a clip when it will be rejected. When a proposal is on the tabular array from the other side. it should be examined and allowed to weave down before an option is put frontward. Know that a counter proposal has the best opportunity of being accepted as a manner out of a job acknowledged by both sides. Don’t waste clip. Never personalize troubles in the procedure. Are non afraid to differ. but avoid aggravation when making so. Building and keeping client-worker relationship.

In order for it to be possible to prosecute with a client. the worker needs to demo heat. empathy. active hearing and a non- 24 judgemental attack. Lishman ( 1994 ) outlines other nucleus conditions or features found necessary to construct and keep a client-worker relationship. Genuineness is one of the nucleus conditions or features found to be necessary for a counselor or healer to assist clients efficaciously – Truax and Carkhuff ( 1957 ) . They define genuineness as affecting the worker in ‘direct personal brush with the client. meeting him/ her on a person-to –person footing. Warmth/ non-possessive heat besides termed unconditioned positive respect is another property found by Rogers and the client-centred school 1957 to be a nucleus status for assisting.

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Warmth is linked with credence and conveys respect. It involves the worker accepting the clients experience as portion of that individual. and can be thought of as a physical manner of demoing lovingness and apprehension. and is chiefly expressed nonverbally. Mehrabian ( 1972 ) uses the term to depict a group on non-verbal behaviors conveying. heat. association and liking. Mehrabian includes physical propinquity. propensity and turning towards the client. sitting in a relaxed place. keeping oculus contact and smiling. 25 Acceptance and a non-judgemental attack. Lishman ( 1994 ) sees credence as a readiness to seek to understand a client’s subjective universe. without conveying rejection or disapproval. Encouragement and blessing – in the societal acquisition theory footings. conveying blessing is giving positive support. defined by Sutton ( 1979 ) as promoting the repeat of good behavior.

Positive supports include touchable wagess. such as thanks. congratulations or grasp. At the same clip traditional societal work values proposed by Biestek ( 1965 ) of credence and non-judgemental attitudes. have been interpreted to intend non merely that workers should forbear from conveying their disapproval to clients. but besides their blessing. Empathy – is another nucleus status or characteristic found to be necessary for a counselor or healer to assist their clients efficaciously Truax and Carkhuff ( 1957 ) . Empathic responses can assist a client to do sense of what may experience a clutter of ideas and feelings. The client may be reassured that there is some significance in what as felt incoherent and irrational.

Empathic responses can assist to formalize and corroborate client’s perceptual experiences. which antecedently 26 have been ignored. disqualified or disconfirmed. While this can non mend or work out the past injury it may cut down its power in the present by assisting the client to recognize the injury and unrecorded with it. and possibly ‘lay it to rest’ and travel on. Responsiveness and sensitiveness – harmonizing to Mehrabian ( 1972 ) reactivity can be conveyed nonverbally and verbally. He found that it was communicated nonverbally by motion ; caput nods. leg and pes motions. by facial looks ; through pleasantness and alterations in look.

Decision. The concluding demand harmonizing to Lishman ( 1994 ) for effectual communicating is the worker’s self-awareness. Communication. verbal. non-verbal or symbolic. is about our usage of ego. In order to pass on efficaciously we have to be cognizant of what we are making. why we are making it. how we are showing ourselves to our clients and. on the footing of this self-knowledge or consciousness. what changes in our communicating are needed if we are to be more effectual. Skilled and effectual communicating is non a inactive province. 27 It will ever affect alteration and development and consolidation. larning from our past behavior and from our errors. Writers such as Sheldon ( 1977 ) and Fischer ( 1978 ) argue that societal workers should concern themselves with the rating of the effectivity of their intercession.

They stress the importance of. believing about the terminals of work. non merely the agencies of ends and results ; puting specific ends to avoid a dual docket. diffusion of ends. inaction and deficiency of alteration. and failure to offer what the client wanted ; developing and definiting intercession accomplishments for problem-solving and alteration. The accomplishments involved in go toing and listening. prosecuting and associating. giving and acquiring information. negociating understandings or contracts and assisting people to do alterations in their attitudes. beliefs or behaviors are relevant to societal work in all contexts. Each context will act upon the manner in which communicating occurs. both heightening and promoting the usage of some accomplishments and restraining or restricting the usage of others.

Lishman ( 1994 ) besides suggests that go toing – being punctual is an indicant to our clients of heed. Listening and an 28 empathetic response are of import constituents in enabling the client to experience that such emotions can be accepted. expressed and lived with and do non hold to be hidden or feared. Such credence may be the staring-point for a client to larn to populate with and pull off antecedently disenabling emotions. Social workers have to get down from a value base. which entails basic regard for all human existences. Social work every bit to get down from humanistic rules or values about the worth and self-respect of each person.


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‘The Priority of Client Evaluations’ . in Lishman 1988. hypertext transfer protocol: //iasw. Ireland. org/ethics. htm hypertext transfer protocol: //www. arcaf. net/social_work_proceedings/ 33 Retrieved from “http: //www. socialwork. ie/socialwork/wiki/index. php/Communication_in_Social_Work_Practice_-_Essay” Personal tools