The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Theory  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Theory

ISBN 9780415793438
Published July 15, 2019 by Routledge
494 Pages - 8 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Theory provides an interdisciplinary and international introduction to social work theory. It presents an analytical review of the wide array of theoretical ideas that influence social work on a global scale. It sets the agenda for future trends within social work theory.

Separated into four parts, this handbook examines important themes within the discourses on social work theory, as well as offering a critical evaluation of how theoretical ideas influence social work as a profession and in practice. It includes a diverse range of interdisciplinary topics, covering the aims and nature of social work, social work values and ethics, social work practice theories and the use of theory in different fields of practice. The contributors show how and why theory is so important to social work and analyze the impact these concepts have made on social intervention.

Bringing together an international team of leading academics within the social work field and newer contributors close to practice, this handbook is essential reading for all those studying social work, as well as practitioners, policymakers and those involved in the associated fields of health and social care.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables



Malcolm Payne and Emma Reith-Hall

Part 1: The aims and nature of social work

  1. Social work theory, knowledge and practice
  2. Malcolm Payne and Emma Reith-Hall

  3. Theoretical aspects of social work - from eclecticism to integration
  4. Vladimír Labath and Elena Ondrušková

  5. Psychological and counselling theory in social work: a critical overview
  6. Carolyn Noble

  7. Epistemic discourses of ‘explanation’ and ‘understanding’ in assessment models
  8. Pavel Navrátil

  9. Theorizing social work in the domains of culture, politics and society
  10. Stan Houston

  11. Paradigm shift? Biomedical science and social work thinking
  12. Malcolm Carey


    Part 2: Theory about social work values

  13. Care and caring
  14. Michael D. Fine

  15. Autonomy and dependence
  16. Tom Grimwood

  17. Empathy, respect and dignity in social work
  18. David Howe

  19. The interpretation of social justice, equality, and inequality in social work: A view from the US
  20. Michael Reisch

  21. Spirituality and secularity
  22. Beth R. Crisp


    Part 3: Theories of social work practice

  23. Relational social work
  24. Karen Winter

  25. Contemporary attachment theory: how can it inform social workers?
  26. David Shemmings and Yvonne Shemmings

  27. How green is social work? Towards an ecocentric turn in social work
  28. John Coates and Mel Gray

  29. Theory on systems, complexity and chaos
  30. Chris Hudson

  31. Cognitive-behavioural therapy and social work practice
  32. A. Antonio Gonzalez-Prendes and C. M. Cassady

  33. Task-centred practice
  34. Simon Cauvain

  35. Strengths perspective: Critical analysis of the influence on social work
  36. Robert Blundo, Kristin W. Bolton and Peter Lehmann

  37. Solution-focused practice in social work
  38. Guy Shennan

  39. Motivational interviewing’s theory of practice for social work: promises and pitfalls
  40. Lori L. Egizio, Douglas C. Smith, Stéphanie Wahab and Kyle Bennett

  41. Narrative social work: key concepts
  42. Karen D. Roscoe

  43. Mindfulness and social work
  44. Yuk-Lin Renita Wong

  45. Indigenist social work practice
  46. Michael Anthony Hart

  47. The social pedagogy dimension of social work activity
  48. Ewa Marynowicz-Hetka

  49. Locality-based social development: a theoretical perspective for social work
  50. Abiot Simeon, Alice K, Butterfield & David P. Moxley

  51. Critical theory and social work: Historical context and contemporary manifestations
  52. Kenneth McLaughlin

  53. The return of macro approaches in social work
  54. Iain Ferguson

  55. Empowerment ideas in social work
  56. Paul Stepney

  57. Anti-oppressive practice
  58. Jane Dalrymple and Beverley Burke

  59. Advocacy ideas in social work
  60. Tom Wilks

  61. Feminist ideas in social work
  62. Sarah Wendt


    Part 4: Theory in practice

  63. Family social work practice
  64. Fiona Morrison, Viviene E. Cree and Polly Cowan

  65. Theory for social work with children
  66. Kathleen Manion

  67. Safeguarding children and the use of theory in practice
  68. Penelope Welbourne

  69. Child and adolescent mental health: a psychosocial perspective
  70. Emma Reith-Hall

  71. Theories of mental health
  72. Pete Benbow and Paul Blakeman

  73. Social work and addiction
  74. Hilda Loughran

  75. Disability theory and social work practice
  76. Stephen J. Macdonald and Lesley Deacon

  77. Accommodating cognitive differences: New ideas for social work with people with intellectual disabilities
  78. Christine Bigby

  79. Social work theory and older people
  80. Malcolm Payne

  81. Holistic end-of-life care in social work

Cecilia Chan, Candy Fong and Y.L. Fung



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Malcolm Payne is Emeritus Professor, Manchester Metropolitan University and has worked in probation, local government social services, the local and national voluntary sector and in a hospice in the UK. He is the author of many books including Modern Social Work Theory, Older Citizens and End-of-life Care, and Humanistic Social Work.

Emma Reith-Hall is a senior social work lecturer at Nottingham Trent University and a PhD student at the University of Birmingham. She remains involved in child and adolescent mental health practice.


‘Bringing together high-profile international authors, this milestone book is a must-read for academics, social workers, policy makers, and anyone who wants an updated and deep knowledge of social work at a local and global level.’ - Annamaria Campanini, President, the International Association of Schools of Social Work, Professor in Social Work, Department of Sociology and Social Research, University Milano Bicocca, Italy

‘Malcolm Payne and Emma Reith-Hall have edited a book that provides a unique and outstanding contribution to our understanding of social work theory. The book is broad in scope, contemporary, yet grounded in social work traditions of "ethics"; "theories of social work" and "social work practice". The contributors, experts in their field, from around the globe, bring diverse and creative views about the nature of social work theory and how theory can be realised through practice. A must-read book about social work theory.’ - Professor Steven M Shardlow, Professor Emeritus of Social Work, Keele University, United Kingdom