The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Communication skills training for practice: the ethical dilemma for social work education

Richards, Sally, Ruch, Gillian and Trevithick, Pamela (2005) Communication skills training for practice: the ethical dilemma for social work education Social Work Education, 24, (4), pp. 409-422. (doi:10.1080/02615470500238678).

Record type: Article


A recent review of the literature on the learning and teaching of communication skills revealed that little attention has been paid to the appropriateness of communication skills training for the contemporary social work environment. Current approaches to skills teaching in social work education emphasise the development of empathy within the context of a ‘helping relationship’. The disparity between this model of social work and contemporary expectations, that social workers seek to understand and categorise individuals primarily through bureaucratic procedures, causes confusion and difficulty for students. As social work educators we face an ethical dilemma. Should we teach students to communicate in a way that conforms to the priorities and pressures of current practice? Or should we retain the focus on inter-personal skills and on engaging with the worlds of service users?
In this paper we examine the disparity between social work as conceived within communication skills training and as practised in the current UK context. We consider the implications for social work education and conclude with suggestions for developing communication skills teaching in ways that equip students to engage with the ‘realities’ of practice and to challenge the shortcomings encountered.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 2005
Keywords: communication skills, social work education, interviewing skills, managerialism, bureaucracy, teaching and learning


Local EPrints ID: 35152
ISSN: 0261-5479
PURE UUID: fd27bc5e-f415-458c-9446-f55c03d56171

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 16 May 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:48

Export record



Author: Sally Richards
Author: Gillian Ruch
Author: Pamela Trevithick

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.