Theory for social work with children

Authored by: Kathleen Manion

The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Theory

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415793438
eBook ISBN: 9781315211053
Adobe ISBN:


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Social workers engage with children in a variety of settings. They often hold a significant amount of power over children and families. Much social work practice coalesces around decision-making and supporting processes (O’Connor & Leonard, 2014) and is therefore helped by theoretical foundations. How social workers make these decisions and choose to engage with clients is influenced by the theories that they are exposed to and choose to embed in their practice. Taking a pragmatic approach, this chapter borrows a broad definition of ‘theory’, as something we use ‘in an attempt to make sense of the world and/or particular events’ (Trevithick, 2011, p. 29). Theories help us predict what is likely to happen in each situation and explain why a given situation is happening.

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