Case Studies

'A return to social work' : Motivational Interviewing in child protection

'A return to social work' : Motivational Interviewing in child protection

Motivational Interviewing: A core platform for practice

Social work research argues that parental resistance and false compliance are ‘ubiquitous’ in child protection social work. The 2011 Munro Review of Child Protection argues for a ‘return to social work’ where social workers are skilled to help families to change, and not simply ‘assess and refer on’.

Senior staff in Workforce Development at Devon County Council recognised that Motivational Interviewing offered Children’s Services not only the clear skills set desired by Munro, but a comprehensive, strengths-based approach to facilitating change and achieving the goals of child protection social work. There is a considerable evidence base for the efficacy of this approach to work with families.

The Review places ‘communication skills’ and relationship skills centrally to helping families, and in 2012  Devon County Council saw the new competency framework for newly qualified social workers and the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) offers an opportunity to really develop and embed the needed skills identified by Munro.

Research shows that very little critical attention has been given to how these skills are operationalised or taught but also demonstrates that when empathic communication is performed successfully, there are associated reductions in resistance and false compliance, and increase of disclosure of risk relevant information.

The brief

Following success in an open tender process,  ignition was commissioned over two years to:

• Develop two units (Theory and Practice) in Motivational Interviewing for Families at Level 5 within the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)
• Deliver accompanying skills training for ASYE social workers
• Develop a comprehensive assessment framework
• Develop and deliver Motivational Interviewing for Families at Level 3 of the QCF to Family Intervention Project workers

Comments from ASYE participants include:

“I came out of University feeling theory heavy and skills light; this training has filled that gap”

“This is the only training I’ve had that actually teaches you how to do social work”

Please also see the case study describing ignition’s development of innovative Live Scenario skills practice training for the ASYE cohorts.