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Return to Social Work: Learning Materials

Module 7: Communication and partnership with service users

How social workers build relationships is central to the helping process. This module focuses on the core social work skills of communication and developing partnerships with children and their families. It covers themes of inclusion, participation, and power dynamics, and identifies strategies to address communication barriers when working with children and resistant parents.

Written communication is also covered in this module. The focus here is designed to refresh social workers’ recording and report writing skills. Effective communication is another important theme that underpins the return to social work materials. There is a direct linked to Module 10: Working in organisations, where the complexity of interagency communication and partnerships is covered. The focus in this module is on skill development and it provides useful tips to enhance relationship building with children and parents. This will help to refresh your skills in listening, negotiating, providing feedback and becoming aware of non-verbal communication. You are asked to consider what is meant by partnership and collaboration and to identify the different levels of participation.

A key theme of this module (and the Munro Review 2011) is the need for social workers to be ‘child centred’ even when the social work intervention is focused on developing parenting capacity. What children value in their social workers is highlighted together with ideas and tools for play-based child-friendly communication techniques. The principles of good partnership with parents in difficult circumstances is also covered and the need for social workers to be able to work with resistance and hostility.