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Foundations of Interpersonal Practice in Social Work

Foundations of Interpersonal Practice in Social Work
Promoting Competence in Generalist Practice

Third Edition

October 2010 | 616 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc


This text takes a broad based approach to basic generalist practice methods that emphasize the common elements in working with individuals, families and groups. The goal of the book is to teach social work students how to enhance clients' social functioning by helping them become more proficient in examining, understanding, and resolving clients' social problems. The authors pay special attention to enhancing social justice by working with individuals and families who have been historically oppressed. This edition includes specific integrated coverage of the Council on Social Work Education's (CSWE) latest Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS).

Intended Audience

This core text is designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the introductory Direct Practice and Generalist Practice courses in BSW and MSW programs of social work.

1. Interpersonal Practice in Social Work: Nature and Scope
Definition of Social Work

Interpersonal Practice

Use of Ecological Concepts

The Scope of Practice

The Bases of Interpersonal Practice


2. Basic Assumptions and Concepts

Underlying Assumptions


Basic Concepts: Client, Worker; Target, and Action Systems


3. Values, Ideology, and Ethics of Professional Social Work
The Ideology of the Social Work Profession

The Social Work Code of Ethics

Value Conflicts in Practice

Practice Cases With Ethical Issues


4. Interpersonal Practice Beyond Diversity and Toward Social Justice: The Importance of Critical Consciousness by Beth Clover Reed, Peter A. Newman, Zulema E. Suarez, and Edith A. Lewis
What is Critical Consciousness?

Mayor Dimensions of Multiculturalism and Some Terminology

Key Social Group Categories and Related Terminology

How Do Multiple Identities Work?

Routes to Critical Consciousness and Multicultural Competence

The Application of Critical Consciousness to Practice


5. Violence and Trauma
Recognition of Violence and Trauma

Types of Trauma

Assessment of Trauma

Consequences of Trauma: Symptoms of Psychological and Emotional Injury

Treatment Options

Risk Screening Protocols


6. Engagement and Relationship
Definition of the Social Work Relationship

Power Dimensions in Professional Relationships

Stages of the Professional Relationship

Transactional Nature of the Professional Relationship

Why Is Relationship So Important?

Conscious Use of Self

Importance of Hope

The Initiation of Relationships

Relationships in Group Situations

Relationships in Family Situations


7. Becoming a Client
Definition of a Client

Overview of the Clienthood Process

Pathways to Clienthood

The Entry Process

The Worker's Tasks With Applicants

Tasks With Nonclients

"Significant Others" in the Client's Life

Defining the Client in a Multiperson Client System

Agency Conditions and Definitions of Client

Continuance and Discontinuance

Orientation to the Client Role

The Initiation of Problem Solving

The Preliminary Contract


8. Contracting
Components of a Social Work Contract

Characteristics of a Social Work Contract

Value of the Contract Approach

Limits of Contracting

Contracting With Families and Groups


9. Monitoring and Evaluating Change


Side Effects


10. Assessing Individuals
Purposes of Assessments

Issues in Use of Sources

Individual Assessment Framework

Stress Assessment

Crisis Assessment

Assessment as a "Label"

PIE - The Person-in-Environment System


11. Individual Change
The Context of Interpersonal Change

Interventive Roles

Overcoming Barriers

Crisis Intervention

Role Solutions


12. Assessing Families
What Is a Family?

Measurement of System Variables

Family Assessment

The Process of Family Assessment

Obtaining Family Assessment Data

Categorizing Family Circumstances

Ways of Portraying Family Conditions


13. Family Change
Occasions for Family Interventions

Prior to the First Family Session

The Initial Sessions

The Family Change Stage

Phase of the Family Life Cycle



14. Assessing Groups
Types of Groups

Therapeutic/Effectiveness Variables

Group Development

Assessing Group Dynamics


15. Group Change
Working With Elders in a Support Group

First Group Session

Second Group Session

The First Session of a Closed Group

Leadership Interventions

Interpersonal Conflict in Groups



16. Assessing Organizations and Communities
Organizational Assessment

Community Assessment


17. Change in Organizations and Communities
Ethics of Organizational and Community Change

Theories of Organizational Change

Community Change


18. Termination
The Tasks of Termination

Termination Issues in Group Work

Termination Issues With Families

Worker Termination

Problematic Terminations


About the Authors

There are some applicable chapters to courses, however, not enough to have students buy the book. We are redesigning the course completely from scratch and will include more social/public health/communication topics in the course. Therefore, we will reconsider this book as a recommended text for the students at our medical school.

Dr Tania Arana
Medical Education, Texas Technology University Health Science - El Paso
December 28, 2011

Some useful ideas and theories but overall the slant is towards American practice, whihc whilst still relevant does have its differnences from UK practice. However, some of the writing will be useful in teaching and learning about relationships within the SW setting and I will be citing it in my teaching.

Mrs Kerry Fidler
School of Social Work, University of Leicester
July 8, 2011

I love the flow of the book and the ease of moving students through the engagment process to the evaluation process!

Dr Margaret Counts-Spriggs
School Of Social Work, Clark Atlanta University
April 26, 2011
Key features

New and Retained Features

  • Weaves content about diversity issues throughout and includes a separate chapter, written by renowned experts, on economically and socially oppressed groups
  • Emphasizes the value and ethical considerations that underlie interpersonal practice, with an emphasis on enhancing individual-environmental transactions
  • Features practice case examples in each chapter, including challenging cases involving an applicant who is mandated to see the practitioner, to encourage students to act as the interpersonal practitioner and to comment on the actions taking place in the case narrative · Offers two new chapters focusing on social work values and contemporary practice issues, including a chapter on violence and trauma
  • Includes a full chapter devoted to the importance of monitoring and evaluation in practice that can be readily implemented, such as the new Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)
  • Opens each chapter with a case example, quote, or exercise that introduces primary themes and draws the reader into the chapter's content

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase this book and request an instructor sample on our US College site:

Go To College Site

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.