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Experiencing Social Work

Experiencing Social Work
Learning from Service Users

Other Titles in:
Social Work Practice

February 2008 | 168 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
In Experiencing Social Work: Learning from Service Users people tell their stories of positive social work and the difference it has made to their lives. The book was inspired by the knowledge of the many positive stories of social work practice and a belief that we can learn more from what goes right than what goes wrong. Follow these stories to understand good practice, reflect on the lessons learned, and to feel uplifted by social work's potential for positive change, support, and social justice.

Each chapter is constructed around one or more case examples, emphasizing the importance of service users' own knowledge in developing our learning about good practice.

Key Features
  • Offers a wide range of service user groups, including people with mental health problems, disabilities, parenting difficulties, living in care, those experiencing loss, and other life transitions
  • Presents editorial commentaries that unpack the core themes and issues from each practice example and open a dialogue to understand the experience and learn from it
  • Provides a strong grounding in the ethical guidelines and skills-base required of all social work trainees and practitioners
This important book encourages readers to learn from examples of positive practice and underlines the significant role that social work plays in many people's lives. It is an essential text for all undergraduate social work students and will also be useful for qualified social workers, service users, and careers.  
f003 "I have to be frank, when I volunteered my story I was sceptical about what difference telling it could make. But now I am convinced.

Learning from Humerah
"When people see me they think 'physical disability', but actually it's my mental health"


Learning from Mandy
"She gave space for me to talk about my situation from my point of view"

Learning from Mrs Corbett
"At one point she took over marvellously, but It's OK because I feel in charge"

Learning from Nina
"Even in really bad rain she'd come here to do the forms"

Learning from Leone
"You wouldn't have thought it was a children's home - it had a lounge, it had a dining room, the plates weren't green"

Learning from Julia
"I'd heard 'The-Day-We-Picked-You-Up-From-The-Social-Workers' story, but never anything about 'The-Night-That-I-Was-Born'

Learning from John
"I instantly felt as though I was being listened to and that I had a chance of being seen as normal"

Learning from Self-advocates
"Social workers are very much needed - desperately"

Learning from Families: Parents Talking, Children Drawing
"I thought social workers took children away, but they listen ... I don't think I would have got through the last two years without them'

Learning from Positive Experiences: Key themes
"Then two years ago my social worker changes... my relationship has changes beyond belief"

From positive practices to a positive service
Nina muses that it is a matter of luck as to who [which social worker] you get.


`Experiencing Social Work provides a refreshing change in the expanse of social work education texts. Its focus on learning from people who had received a good service from social workers drew out many of the foundation blocks of practice that can so easily be minimised in favour of 'deeper academic theories'. In short, it reminded me of my own passion for practice and the privilege it is to be part of the social work profession’ - Kay Wall, Lecturer in Social Work

Really useful book

Mr Simon Hall
Social Work, North East Worcestershire College
June 29, 2015

Fantastic resource giving an insight into service user involvement

Ms Jules Goodger
Social Work , Havering College of Further and Higher Education
November 13, 2013

To hear the voices of service users is important to the learning of social work and social care workers. This book offers such a place.

Dr Martin Partridge
Faculty of Health , Staffordshire University
June 27, 2013

very useful and thought provoking encouraging students and practitioners alike, to incrementally critically evaluate practice

Ms Frances Gander
Dept of Applied Social Sciences, Bedfordshire University
October 17, 2011

This book is essential reading as it informs students how to work with services users and to look at the services users perspective.

Ms Sharon Yearwood
Social Policy, Havering College of Further and Higher Education
September 28, 2010

This book is an outstanding model where service users and carers have been supported within an academic environment to share their experiences of using and accessing services and differerent levels of support whilst being able to provide a learning opportunity for those studying or developing themselves as professionals in social work. I am currently using this book on the NQSW Programme at Southampton CC.

Ms Gina Hardesty
Adult Social Care, Southampton City Council
September 20, 2010

Very insightful and relevant to a number of different modules. I would recommend this to a range of students across the programme.

Mrs Margaret Bruce
Education, social work and community education, Dundee University
May 10, 2010

The text is easily accessible for Year 1 students, and offers a valuable insight into service user perspectives.

Ms Caroline Lee
Social Work , Birmingham City University
April 7, 2010

This is a very helpful text giving a lot of context to daily experinces that should enable imored practice

Mr Mohammed Jakhara
FEHS, Derby University
December 1, 2009

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Humerah's story

Mark Doel

Mark Doel, PhD, MA (Oxon), CQSW is Research Professor of Social Work at Sheffield Hallam University. He is a registered social worker and was in practice for almost twenty years, including two separate years living and working in the US. His research focuses on groupwork, social work practice and practice education and he has an international reputation in these fields. Professor Doel is widely published. His fifteenth book, Social Work Placements: a traveller's guide (Routledge) introduces readers to Socialworkland, a travel guide approach to practice learning. Other recent books include: Educating Professionals: practice learning in... More About Author

Lesley Best

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