Counselling in social work: A legitimate role?
Keywords:Counselling, social work, therapeutic social work, clinical social work, micro skills, casework.
INTRODUCTION: Social work roles can sometimes be considered to sit on a continuum between a community work/social change perspective and a therapeutic work perspective. One perspective could be preferred above the other, at a particular time and in a particular context, or both perspectives could be supported. This article explores the legitimate function of counselling in social work in Aotearoa New Zealand.
METHODS: Data were obtained sequentially through 16 in-depth interviews and four focus groups in a qualitative PhD study. The respondents were practising social workers from various ethnicities and fields of practice represented in Aotearoa New Zealand. Both the interview and focus group data were analysed using a general inductive and thematic data analysis method.
FINDINGS: The data demonstrate a relationship between counselling and social work, that social workers regularly use counselling skills and that social workers have a need to develop their clinical skills. Rigid boundaries between the two professions can have adverse effects for clients at times when multi-skilled professionals are needed; participants in this study are calling for ethicality and accountability in this regard.
CONCLUSION: The findings from the data confirm the legitimacy of counselling in social work and have implications for social work practice, education, and continued professional development.
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