3rd Edition

The Essential Social Worker An Introduction to Professional Practice in the 1990s

By Martin Davies Copyright 1994

    The third edition of The Essential Social Worker has been radically revised and updated and contains an entirely new chapter providing a clear outline of the historical and policy-related framework within which social work operates in areas of particular practice - child care, disability, mental health, old age and criminal justice. The Essential Social Worker defends the idea of a broadly based profession seeking to maintain disadvantaged people in the community. It bravely confronts the shallowness of many short-term fashions and argues that social work is a uniquely humane contributor to the achievement of welfare in the 1990s and beyond. A careful reading of The Essential Social Worker will ensure that the student gains an understanding of the role of social work in a complex urban society and develops an awareness of the debates which surround it. Social work is often subject to public criticism, but, as the author shows, it has continued to grow in scale and in influence throughout the 20th century and although its structure will continue to evolve, social work will remain essential in any society which regards itself as democratic and humane.

    Contents: A Framework for the 1990s: The historical context; The policy context: child protection; Children with disabilities; People with learning disabilities; Elder-care; Mental health; Probation. The Theory and Practice of Maintenance: The social worker’s role; Clients point the way: eight lessons to learn; Towards a theory of maintenance; The achievement of change; Power and responsibility; Pro-active involvement in the community. Dimensions of Practice: First encounter: the client enters an alien world; Who is the client? Who determines the action?; Speech: the social worker’s basic tool; The social worker’s use of self; Beyond the use of self. In Conclusion: Skills, knowledge and qualities in the essential social worker; Bibliography; Indices.


    Professor Martin Davies is the Executive Director of the School of Social Work at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. A qualified and experienced probation officer, he has spent much of his professional life engaged in social work research and education. He has been responsible for nine books, concerned either with probation practice or with the role of social workers in society.

    ’...remains a sound introduction to social work.’ Community Care ’...here is a source of wisdom, compassion, analysis, quiet erudition and most important of all, it is a book of real value to practitioners.’ British Journal of Social Work