The Dynamics of the Social Worker-Client Relationship

ISBN : 9780197517956

Joseph Walsh
312 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jun 2021
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The recent establishment of evidence-based practice (EBP) interventions in the mental health space has enabled social workers to diagnose various mental, emotional, and behavioral issues in clients. This increased focus on using scientific methods to develop EBPs has been helpful for professionals making choices about client intervention, but it tends to distract attention from the client-facing process of delivering a given intervention. The effectiveness of direct social work practice always requires one's competence in providing a variety of intervention modalities, but the outcomes are also dependent on the social worker's ability to develop and maintain constructive relationships with clients. The Dynamics of the Social Worker-Client Relationship is an in-depth contemporary approach to the many ways in which social workers can develop, maintain, and rebuild constructive working relationships with clients who display various psychological symptoms. Building on 14 years of practitioner experience and 25 years teaching clinical social work practice, Joseph Walsh provides helpful ways to cultivate positive relationships and promote better opportunities for successful intervention. Each chapter focuses on a particular challenge that social workers may encounter in that process, including the benefits and limitations of theory selection, boundaries, the use of self, the working alliance, relationship ruptures, special issues presented by children and adolescents, terminations and transfers, clients about whom a social worker experiences highly positive or negative feelings, appropriate usage of physical touch and humor, working with psychotic clients, and various uses of technology. The book is filled with case studies from a wide range of field placements. Walsh analyzes these in each instance and walks readers through each predicament to ensure effective relationships are always at top of mind.


Chapter 1: Definitions and Theoretical Perspectives
Chapter 2: Relationship Boundaries
Chapter 3: The Use of Self
Chapter 4: The Working Alliance and Cross-Cultural Competence
Chapter 5: Relationship Ruptures
Chapter 6: Relationship Endings: Terminations and Transfers
Chapter 7: Relationships with Children and Adolescents
Chapter 8: Clients Toward Whom a Social Worker Feels Attraction
Chapter 9: Managing Negative Feelings About Clients
Chapter 10: Relationship Development with Psychotic Clients
Chapter 11: Physical Contact in Relationships
Chapter 12: Using Humor in Practice Relationships
Chapter 13: The Worker/Client Relationship in Technology-Assisted Interventions

About the author: 

Joseph Walsh, MSW, PhD, is Professor Emeritus at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work. He was a full-time faculty member for 25 years there, teaching courses and engaging in research on topics related to clinical social work practice. Prior to his career in academia, he was a full-time practicing professional. Today, he is a part-time clinical practitioner at Richmond Creative Counseling. His research has largely been focused on serious mental illness and their diagnoses.

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