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Developing Skills for Social Work Practice

Developing Skills for Social Work Practice

First Edition
Additional resources:

December 2016 | 296 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Are your students struggling to get to grips with what social work actually looks like in real-life practice? Are they wanting to know more about how they can develop the right skills and implement the right theory in many different practice situations?


Then you have come to the right place! This book will provide your students with everything they need to know and more, helping them develop and hone their skills and make the best start in their practice placements.   


To get the most out of this book and access more materials to support them through their social work degree, visit the companion website at to read journal articles, access ‘how to..’ guides and helpful links, as well as hear first-hand from frontline social workers, services users, carers and more.

Core Skills
Person-Centred Communication
Active Listening Skills
Communicating with Children
Emotionally Intelligent Social Work
Developing Empathic Skills
Reflection and Reflexivity
Understanding Values, Ethics and Human Rights
Valuing Difference and Diversity
Skills for Assessment and Interventions
Assessment Skills
Interviewing Skills
A Positive Approach to Safeguarding: Risk in Humane Social Work
Working with Service Users and Carers
Building Resilience
Conflict Management and Resolution
Research-Informed Practice
Writing Skills for Practice
Inter-Professional Practice and Working Together
Maximising Supervision
Review and Evaluation
Court Skills
Key Social Work Theories and Methods
Strengths-Based and Solution-Focused Approaches
Systems Theory and an Ecological Approach
Attachment Theory: Examining Maternal Sensitivity Scales
Person-Centred Social Work
Group Work
Task-Centred Social Work Practice
Crisis Intervention
The Social Models of Disability and Distress


Click for online resources

Visit the SAGE companion website at to find a range of free tools and resources that will enhance your learning experience.

For students:

·         Offering an alternative learning style, a series of podcasts and transcripts from social workers and service users discuss key concepts to get more insight into developing your skills for social work practice and help you think more critically about the subject.

·         Read more widely! A selection of FREE SAGE Journal articles supports each chapter to help expand your knowledge and reinforce your learning of key topics.

·         Downloadable ‘How to..’ guides and templates to be used on the go and support your revision. 

·         Weblinks which direct you to relevant resources to broaden your understanding of chapter topics and expand your knowledge.


This book is well set out and clear, it includes all the main ingredients not only for student social workers but also those with more experience and managers. Its easy read style and three-part approach using case studies, small exercises, activities and reflective opportunities make this text accessible, informative and invaluable. The links to theory, literature and practice as well as the PCF statements enables the reader to see clearly the competencies needed and how these may be achieved. This book seems to be a useful and practical tool that will support the development of the highly trained and effective workforce needed within the sector while equipping them to move through the melee of changes in the sector.

Tracey Wornast
Canterbury Christchurch University

The focus of this book on Relationship-based Practice is an excellent reminder that social workers need to harness and develop skills in working with people – people in need and often in difficult situations. The book is set out clearly and is written in an accessible way for all. The use of case studies and reflective activities help the reader to understand how to apply the principles suggested in real life situations. I thoroughly recommend this book especially as social work students prepare for their first practice experience; and of course to those looking to develop their skills.

Lesley Deacon
University of Sunderland

This text provides a practical guide to social work students developing their social work skills with examples and activities throughout on what to do and how to do it. The authors place relationship based social work at the heart of the text and build on this by sharing a range of practical skills and models for engaging in Aspire (assessment, planning, intervention, review and evaluation) and on how to draw on wider theory to inform each intervention. The clear guidance will give confidence to students and early career practitioners seeking to develop their social work practice.

Mel Hughes
University of Bournemouth

This is the book my students have been waiting for! Effective communication and interpersonal skills are central to good social work practice. Social work is a profession concerned with relationships and promoting change at its heart. This is only possible with effective and skilled practitioners.  The authors successfully share a wealth of practice experience and help the developing practitioner build strong relationship-based-practice, covering a wide-ranging number of key communication and interpersonal skills including active listening, empathy and conflict resolution.  This comprehensive and engaging text will thoroughly equip the reader with a sound knowledge base and strong theoretical understanding, concerning a broad spectrum of practice interventions. The authors present a very welcome and essential edition to my module reading list.

Rachel Good
University of Staffordshire

Developing skills for social work practice is a core module which students need to have greater understanding and knowledge within their degree programme. Students will find this very helpful in their assessments and course work.

Azora Hurd
University of Gloucestershire

Written and laid out in a very accessible manner, this book is current, practice focussed and grounded in a proven knowledge base.  It can make a significant contribution towards helping undergraduate social work students in becoming effective relationship-based and person centred practitioners.

Albert Moylan
Birmingham City University

This is an ambitious and well-structured book which will support both social work students and practitioners in their skills development.  The authors provide a range of useful tools and resources to support student learning and to ensure an accessible and engaging read, whilst also offering  thoughtful, critical analysis throughout.  Grounded in person centred practice, this book is a valuable and important addition to the existing skills literature. 

Peter Ayling
University of Worcester

Rogers et al provide an excellent, accessible tour of the essential skills that a student social worker needs to develop their skills, confidence and understanding to enable them to be equipped to practice effectively.

Paula Beesley
Leeds Beckett University

This book helpfully brings together inter personal skills, relationship skills and core social work theories and methods. I would recommend this text as a way of enabling social work students to see the connections between these areas.

David Mercer
Leeds Beckett University

Engaging purposefully and meaningfully with service users is crucial to effective social work.  Rogers, Whitaker, Edmondson and Peach have compiled a relevant resource that will enhance students’ development of skills necessary for good social work practice.  Qualified social workers will also benefit from revisiting the skills, values and underpinning knowledge outlined.

Although attractively presented and ‘reader’ friendly, this is not a text to merely read.  Reflective questions and case studies encourage its use as a workbook.  Distinct features include challenging reflections from newly qualified and more experienced social workers and ‘How to…’ guides in a companion website.  It is well referenced and each chapter concludes with further recommended reading.  The key social work theories and methods that are also introduced provide helpful underpinning for value based and culturally appropriate interaction with service users and carers. 

Relationship-based practice and person-centred thinking are the starting point and a running thread, although the content is balanced with a critical approach.  In addition to chapters exploring fundamental communication and interpersonal skills, others tackle specific areas such as Communicating with Children, Writing Skills for Practice and Court Skills.  An ambitious project, it is nevertheless an incisive and ‘to the point’ introduction to practice skills. 

Ruben Martin
University of Kent