Effective strategies for communication? Student views of a communication skills course eleven years on

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The ability of social workers to communicate effectively has long been seen as a core skill. Despite this, there has been relatively little research into how communication skills teaching is transferred to practice. This article begins by summarising current knowledge about how communication skills are taught. It then outlines possible difficulties in using a reflective practice model in practice. The model of interviewing skills taught at York University is described. Original research findings are then presented in which qualified social workers who graduated from York University in 1998 were asked to evaluate the training they received. Participants in the study were largely positive about the model taught and generally felt that they had adopted it into their own practice. Staff modelling of the theoretical model was highly valued and the effectiveness of the teaching was seen to rest in large part on the skill of the teaching staff. Participants felt that their work environments affected the degree to which they were able to practise the model. Despite this, participants felt that the model had assisted them in evaluating their own responses whilst interviewing service users in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1190-1205
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number6
Early online date10 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • social work education
  • social work theory
  • reflective practice
  • bureaucracy
  • practitioners


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