Skills for Using Theory in Social Work : 32 Lessons for Evidence-Informed Practice book cover
1st Edition

Skills for Using Theory in Social Work
32 Lessons for Evidence-Informed Practice

ISBN 9780415726849
Published April 10, 2014 by Routledge
344 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
SAVE $19.49
was $64.95
USD $45.46

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Using theory, research evidence and experiential knowledge is a critical component of good social work. This unique text is designed to help social work students and practitioners to integrate theorizing into practice, demonstrating how to search for, select and translate academic knowledge for practical use in helping people improve their lives and environments.

Presenting 32 core skills, Skills for Using Theory in Social Work provides a conceptual foundation, a vocabulary, and a set of skills to aid competent social work theorizing. Each chapter outlines the knowledge and action components of the skill and its relationship to core practice behaviours, along with learning and reflection activities. The lessons are divided into four parts:

  • Section one discusses foundational material, including self-identification as a theorist-practitioner, the deliberate use of the term theory, and a social work approach to the selection of knowledge.
  • Section two focuses on the adept use of theorizing skills. It covers identifying assumptions, using concepts, formulating propositions, organizing theory elements inductively or deductively, summarizing and displaying the elements of a theory, gathering and organizing assessment information and communicating with clients and colleagues about tentative theories.
  • Section three includes lessons preparing social workers for the construction of useful middle-range theories including causal theories and interpretive theories and for testing and sharing these practical theories.
  • Section four presents skills to develop critical thinking about theoretical knowledge. These include avoiding the misuse of theory, judging a theory using scientific standards, judging a theory by professional standards, critiquing theory in its cultural and historical context and making judgments about the likely long-term impact of a theory.

This key text will help readers to demonstrate their expertise in reflective, competent, and theory-informed practice. It is suitable for all social work students and practitioners, particularly those taking practice, theory and human behaviour in the social environment courses.

Table of Contents

Foreword  Introduction  Section 1: Theorizing Basics  1. Identify and Act as Theorist Engaged in Theoretical Thinking  2. Identify and Use Purposefully Different Styles of Theorizing  3. Identify and Use the Social Work Approach to Knowledge Selection  4. Identify and Use Knowledge from Varied Sources  5. Identify and Use Theory Differentially by Level of Abstraction  6. Identify and Use Theory Differentially by System Level  Section 2: Applying Theory (Deconstructive and Reconstructive Theorizing)  7. Identify the Theoretical Aspects of the Practice Puzzle  8. Identify and Borrow from Relevant Theoretical Frameworks  9. Identify and Learn From Relevant Exemplary Theorists  10. Check on and Imagine Puzzle Patterns Using Theory’s Root Metaphors  11. Check on and Specify Theory’s Assumptions  12. Identify and Adapt a Theory’s Concepts  13. Identify and Reformulate a Theory’s Propositions  14. Identify and Reorganize a Theory’s Deductive Argument  15. Identify and Reorganize a Theory’s Inductive Argument  16. Summarize the Relationship between a Theory’s Elements  17. Display a Theory’s Elements  Section 3: Constructing Practical Theories  18. Construct Practical Theories in the Middle Range  19. Construct a Middle Range Theory about Causes  20. Construct a Middle Range Theory about Processes or Themes  21. Translate and Speak Theory with Clients & Colleagues  Section 4: Critical Thinking about Theoretical Knowledge Using Scientific, Practical, and Professional Standards  22. Think Critically about Theory  23. Critique Theory Using Scientific and Practical Standards  24. Critique Theory Using Professional Standard of Ethics and Values  25. Critique Theory Using Professional Standard of Evidence  26. Critique Theory Using Professional Standard of Holism  27. Critique Theory Using Professional Standard of Justice  28. Critique Theory Using Professional Standard of Sensitivity to Diversity  29. Critique Theory Using Professional Standard of Strengths  30. Critique Theory by Reference to Moral and Technical Uses  31. Critique Theory in Historical and Cultural Context  32. Critique Theory Considering Long Term Impact  Section 5: Conclusion  Coda: Principles for Practical Theorizing

View More



James A. Forte is Professor of Social Work at Salisbury University, Maryland, USA.


‘The puzzle pieces fit just right with these texts. They can be effective for the everyday practitioner who wants to enhance and evaluate his or her own practice. They are similarly effective for budding undergrad students who have been told they should join social work because they are good at helping others. Yet, I found the book was just right for those who love theorizing and grapple with the pedagogical quandary of helping students think about how they think and what goes into authoring their own ending. The texts use illustrations, tables, grids, and sequential knowledge grids allowing individuals to use them for their own gain. This simple concept helps the practitioner or graduate student spring to page 60 and the undergraduate student use it as a dictionary approach to learning concepts versus simply reading page 1 to page 220. These books are like sweet victory where you feel you have scored. This is the best we have done in theory and theory education to date. Forte hits the homerun and we celebrate.’The New Social Worker

'Forte provides useful learning activities and reflections to support group discussion and self-directed learning, focused throughout this text on US CSWE competency statements.'- Deborah Hart, University of Newcastle, Australia, Australian Social Work