“Perspectives of social work students on the relevance of relationship-based practice in contemporary social work”. (Area 7)

Lauren Morgan, Dr. Raluca Zanca and Peter Unwin (IHS).

In times of austerity academics are looking to relationship-based practice as an emergent response to deal with the potential shortfalls of contemporary social work. This study aimed to explore students’ perceptions and understanding of relationship-based practice, with regards to recent practice placements and learning from the course so far. Two focus groups were carried out across both cohorts of the Masters in Social Work course, which enabled students to articulate their perceptions and experiences of relationship-based practice. Findings suggest that students have a good grasp on the topic of relationship-based practice and how to promote it, whilst also recognising potential challenges in practice. In conclusion, continuing to raise awareness during taught sessions and practice experience will hopefully enable social work students to build the appropriate knowledge and skills to maintain relationship-based practice throughout their professional career. The learning and teaching tool created for this study will be presented for discussion in order to hopefully raise awareness for its application to not only social work education, training and practice, but across all disciplines. Further research could focus on the perspectives of social workers practising in statutory settings to determine whether their experiences differ from those of students.

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