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 Developing Reflective and Relationship-based Practice in the post-Munro Era Dr Gillian Ruch Division of Social Work Studies University of Southampton.

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Presentation on theme: " Developing Reflective and Relationship-based Practice in the post-Munro Era Dr Gillian Ruch Division of Social Work Studies University of Southampton."— Presentation transcript:

1  Developing Reflective and Relationship-based Practice in the post-Munro Era Dr Gillian Ruch Division of Social Work Studies University of Southampton

2 What has happened?  Nothing new under the sun… but you never step in the same river twice  Paul Simon lyric ‘Everything is different but nothing has changed…’

3 Olive Stevenson  When I trained as a social worker in 1953, hopes were high for the emergence of a profession which would make a significant contribution to the well-being of children in need. Subsequently, such aspirations were extended more widely to include the wellbeing of many kinds of people in difficulty.  For a number of reasons, which I have charted in my writings, this optimism has been dimmed over the past fifty-plus years. I believe that there is an urgent need to recapture ‘the vision’ and the ethical basis for social work. Without those, we are lost in tangles of bureaucracy and in anxious and despairing feelings about the tasks which must be undertaken.  Social work is extremely complicated work. I believe that those who practice, research or teach it can only do so effectively if they seek to understand and utilise the interplay of mind and feelings in themselves and others.

4 The ‘Post-Climbié, Every Child Matters Era’ and birth of Electronic Children:  Bureaucracy  Integrated Children’s System  Common Assessment Framework  ‘Electronic Child’ (Peckover et al, 2009)

5 The ‘Post Baby Peter, Social Work Taskforce and Reform Board’ Era and Beginning of the ‘Relational Turn’:  Laming (DH, 2009)  Research Findings  Taskforce and Reform Board Consultation (DH, 2010)  More bureaucracy  Integrated Children’s System (Broadhurst et al, 2010); CAF (White et al, 2009)  Re-professionalising of the workforce

6 The ‘Post Munro and Reclaiming Social Work’ Era and the Reconfiguration of the Social Work Practice: 2011 and Beyond  Blame and scapegoating culture  Centralised practice  Technical-rational bureaucratic social workers  Systemic approaches  Localism  Practical-moral relationship- based social workers

7 The relational turn  ‘The professional account of social work practice ‘in which relationships play a central role’ appears to have been gradually stifled and replaced by a managerialist account that is fundamentally different. The managerialist approach has been called a ‘rational ‐ technical approach’, where the emphasis has been on the conscious, cognitive elements of the task of working with children and families, on collecting information, and making plans. This focus has led to ‘ a curious absence from a great deal of social work and child protection literature, policy and discussions about practice of any considered attention to the core dynamics, experience and methods of doing the work’ (Munro, 2011:86)

8 Where are we now?  Rabbits in headlights  On a cusp  Seeking a depressive position

9 Understanding the ‘relational turn’: obstacles  Impoverished and malnourished practitioners  Toilets and tick boxes  Professional vulnerability, sensitivity and omnipotence (Ruch, 2007 a and b)

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12 The Practitioner’s (and Olive’s) Experience  ‘But we’ve got to show the children that actually we’re in control here, we’re quite strong. I can’t really show you that I’m upset, that I’m angry at your mum or that you know when you break down actually I’m trying to hold back the tears and take a long swallow because actually I’m feeling that pain that you’re feeling but you kind of – it’s almost in a way you kind of feel like I’m failing if I do that, do you know what I mean. It’s about getting in there, telling them what the situation is and getting out as quickly as you can, and how will you deal with that in your car, because you know I have often gone back and had a little cry in my car, and I just think ‘how are those kids feeling?’

13 Anxiety ANXIETY

14 Where are we going? Anxiety, Empathy and Honesty  Individual and organisational anxiety- requires recognition and containment (Bion, 1961; Ruch, 2007)  ‘Confrontational empathy’ (Ruch, 2011) and ‘good authority’ (Ferguson, 2010)  Realising the relational turn requires CULTURAL as well as structural change

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16 Contemplation Pods

17 Bibliography  Bion, W. (1961) Bion, W. (1961) Experiences in Groups and Other Papers, London, Tavistock Publications.  Broadhurst, K., Hall, C., Wastell, D., White, S. and Pithouse, A. (2010) ‘Risk, instrumentalism and the humane project in social work: Identifying the informal logics of risk management in children’s statutory services’, British Journal of Social Work, 40, pp  Cooper, A. (2010) 'What future? Organisational forms, relationship-based social work practice and the changing world order', in Author., Turney, D. and Ward, A. (eds), Relationship-based Social Work: Getting to the Heart of Practice, London, Jessica Kingsley.  Department of Children Schools and Families (2009) The Protection of Children in England: Action Plan. The Government’s Response to Lord Laming, London, The Stationery Office.

18 Bibliography  Department of Children Schools and Families (2010) Building a Safe, Confident Future: The Final Report of the Social Work Task Force, London, The Stationery Office.  Ferguson, H. (2010) Child Protection Practice, Basingstoke, Palgrave.  Munro, E. (2010) The Munro Review of Child Protection – Part One: A Systems Analysis, London, The Stationery Office.  Munro, E. (2011) The Munro Review of Child Protection Final Report: A Child Centred System, London, The Stationery Office.  Peckover, S., White, S. and Hall, C. (2008) ‘Making and managing electronic children: E assessment in child welfare’ Information, Communication and Society, vol. 11, 3,

19 Bibliography  Ruch, G. (2005) Relationship-based and Reflective Practice in Contemporary Child Care Social Work, Child and Family Social Work, 10,  Ruch, G. (2007a) Reflective Practice in Child Care Social Work: the Role of Containment, British Journal of Social Work, 37,  Ruch. G. (2007b) 'Thoughtful' Practice: Child Care Social Work and the Role of Case Discussion, Child and Family Social Work, 12,  Ruch, G. and Murray, C. (2011) ‘Anxiety, Defences and the Primary Task in Integrated Children’s Services: Enhancing Inter-professional Practice’, Journal of Social Work Practice, 25, 4, pp

20 Bibliography  Ruch, G., Turney, D. and Ward, A. (2010) Relationship-based Social Work: Getting to the Heart of Practice, London: Jessica Kingsley.  Ruch, G. (2011) Where have all the feelings gone? Developing Reflective and Relationship- based Management in Child Care Social Work, British Journal of Social Work. Advanced access.  Shaw I., Bell, M., Sinclair, I., Sloper, P., Mitchell, W., Dyson, P., Clayden, J. and Rafferty, J. (2009) ‘An Exemplary Scheme? An Evaluation of the Inte­grated Children’s System’, British Journal of Social Work 39, 4, 613–26.  White, S., Broadhurst, K., Wastell, D., Peckover, S., Hall, C. and Pithouse, A. (2010) ‘Whither practice-near research in the modernization programme? Policy blunders in children’s services’, Journal of Social Work Practice, vol. 23, no. 4, pp

21 Resources  Resources:  Journal of Social Work Practice  Centre for Social Work Practice – www. CfSWP. comwww. CfSWP. com  Group for Advancement of Psychotherapy and Systemic Therapy in Social Work (GAPS)


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