Centre for Social Work Practice

Understanding Emotions in Social Work - Theory, Practice & Reflection

Review posted May 10, 2016


By Richard Ingram

What is this book about

This book is about ‘the centrality of emotions and emotional intelligence in social work practice’ says Gillian Ruch, Professor of Social Work. It covers a range of themes which enable practitioners and managers to think about practice and the context within which it takes place. The book takes you through a range of theoretical and practical topics and activities to support self reflection and enhanced self knowledge. The book serves as a tool for students, practitioners, managers, and organizations to engage with the concept of emotions and how they do or do not impact on social work practice.

What I appreciated about the book.

In part I of the book the author gave clear explanations which provided a sound conceptual foundation for part II of the text. The contextual information /material is accurate in terms of contemporary SW practice. The author makes good references to contemporary thought leaders in the relationship based approaches.

The vignettes from practice were useful and provided clear distinctions between the ‘soft and hard’ sides of the social work role. However, I felt the use of the terms ‘hard and soft’ were somewhat power ladened. I would have liked more interpretative examples of transference and counter transference experiences and how these linked to understanding emotions in social work. The narrative around ‘emotions’ not being just about personal levels of stress, but also useful in terms of sense making in case work was really helpful.

Theory & Practice.

Part I and specifically chapter 1 offers a range of theory and a helpful conceptual framework relating to theory and practice.

Who is the book Useful for

Useful for newly qualified, supervisors and practitioners.

Dr. Sylvia B Smith, HPCC Registered
Independent Social Worker, Practice & Management Consultant
10th May 2016

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