Publishing with a purpose

How to Use Social Work Theory in Practice

An Essential Guide

By Malcolm Payne


8 Jan 2020

Page count

288 pages




234 x 156 mm


Policy Press
£24.99 £19.99You save £5.00 (20%) Add to basket


8 Jan 2020

Page count

288 pages





Policy Press
£21.99 £17.59You save £4.40 (20%) Add to basket
How to Use Social Work Theory in Practice

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Social work theory is full of ideas about how to practise. It guides you in what to do as well as how to approach and think about social work goals.

In this clear and systematic book covering both general practice concepts and theoretical insights, best-selling author Malcolm Payne shows you how to work with the main theories and practice techniques and pinpoint their strengths and limitations.

This book:

• Explores the social work process from first to last contact;

• Covers all the theories and methods you need to know as a practitioner;

• Examines practice techniques and the ideas that inform them;

• Includes helpful chapter-by-chapter infographics.

This practical guide condenses the practical features of social work theory but doesn’t oversimplify them. Students and practitioners can confidently put their knowledge into action and see how everyday practice implements theoretical ideas. It will be an invaluable resource to students and newly qualified practitioners in social work and in related fields of practice, making connections with both classic and contemporary movements in social work

“With this book in hand, social work students and professionals have the best guide I have ever seen to explore and to apply social work theories.” Hans van Ewijk, University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht

“This is another excellent textbook from, arguably, the leading social work theorist in the UK. The presentation of current debates in social work theory as well as graphical representations makes it clear and accessible.” Lesley Deacon, University of Sunderland

“This book will provide students and practitioners with an accessible introduction to a range of theory relevant to social work practice. It draws on a range of research evidence but synthesizes this in a way that will gives readers an easy access point into some complex areas of theory and practice. In the ‘things to think about’ section students and practitioners will find useful suggestions to help make the theory immediately relevant to their practice.” Autumn Roesch-Marsh, University of Edinburgh

“This concise text will serve as a first stop for social work students and practitioners eager to learn about the most commonly used social work skills, theories, and methods.” Barbra Teater, City University of New York

“Translating theories into the language of social work practice, Payne demonstrates how to use theory to tailor your approach to the individual, rather than treating every client the same.” Libor Musil, Masaryk University

Malcolm Payne is Emeritus professor at Manchester Metropolitan University and Kingston University, London and director of psychosocial and spiritual care, St Christopher’s Hospice, London.

Introduction: practice from social work theory

First contact and engagement


Communication, advice, information


Resilience, risk, safeguarding

Humanistic person-centred practice

Mindfulness practice

Strengths and solution-focused practice

Narrative practice

Psychodynamic relationship-based practice

Attachment practice

Task-centred practice

Crisis practice

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) practice

Motivational interviewing

Advocacy, human rights and welfare rights

Empowerment, anti-oppressive practice and power


Community work and macro practice

Systems practice

Critical and structural practice

Feminist practice

Ecological and green practice

Ending and critical reflection