The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Theory provides an interdisciplinary and international introduction to social work theory. It presents an analytical review of the wide array of theoretical ideas that influence social work on a global scale. It sets the agenda for future trends within social work theory.

Separated into four parts, this handbook examines important themes within the discourses on social work theory, as well as offering a critical evaluation of how theoretical ideas influence social work as a profession and in practice. It includes a diverse range of interdisciplinary topics, covering the aims and nature of social work, social work values and ethics, social work practice theories and the use of theory in different fields of practice. The contributors show how and why theory is so important to social work and analyze the impact these concepts have made on social intervention.

Bringing together an international team of leading academics within the social work field and newer contributors close to practice, this handbook is essential reading for all those studying social work, as well as practitioners, policymakers and those involved in the associated fields of health and social care.

chapter |3 pages


ByMalcolm Payne, Emma Reith-Hall

part 1|75 pages

The aims and nature of social work

chapter 1|11 pages

Social work theory, knowledge and practice

ByMalcolm Payne, Emma Reith-Hall

chapter 2|10 pages

Theoretical aspects of social work – from eclecticism to integration

ByVladimír Labath, Elena Ondrušková

chapter 3|13 pages

Psychological and counselling theory in social work

A critical overview
ByCarolyn Noble

chapter 6|12 pages

Paradigm shift? Biomedical science and social work thinking

ByMalcolm Carey

part 2|67 pages

Theory about social work values

chapter 7|12 pages

Care and caring

ByMichael D. Fine

chapter 8|14 pages

Autonomy and dependence

ByTom Grimwood

chapter 9|13 pages

Empathy, respect and dignity in social work

ByDavid Howe

chapter 10|13 pages

The interpretation of social justice, equality and inequality in social work

A view from the US
ByMichael Reisch

chapter 11|13 pages

Spirituality and secularity

ByBeth R. Crisp

part 3|222 pages

Theories of social work practice

chapter 12|9 pages

Relational social work

ByKaren Winter

chapter 13|11 pages

Contemporary attachment theory

How can it inform social workers?
ByDavid Shemmings, Yvonne Shemmings

chapter 14|10 pages

How green is social work? Towards an ecocentric turn in social work

ByJohn Coates, Mel Gray

chapter 15|12 pages

Theory on systems, complexity and chaos

ByChristopher G. Hudson

chapter 16|12 pages

Cognitive-behavioural therapy and social work practice

ByA. Antonio Gonzalez-Prendes, C. M. Cassady

chapter 17|11 pages

Task-centred practice

BySimon Cauvain

chapter 18|8 pages

Strengths perspective

Critical analysis of the influence on social work
ByRobert Blundo, Kristin W. Bolton, Peter Lehmann

chapter 19|12 pages

Solution-focused practice in social work

ByGuy Shennan

chapter 20|10 pages

Motivational interviewing’s theory of practice for social work

Promises and pitfalls
ByLori L. Egizio, Douglas C. Smith, Stéphanie Wahab, Kyle Bennett

chapter 21|10 pages

Narrative social work

Key concepts
ByKaren Roscoe

chapter 22|12 pages

Mindfulness and social work

ByYuk-Lin Renita Wong

chapter 23|14 pages

Indigenist social work practice

ByMichael Anthony Hart

chapter 24|12 pages

The social pedagogy dimension of social work activity

ByEwa Marynowicz-Hetka, Magdalena Machcin’ska-Szczepaniak

chapter 25|14 pages

Locality-based social development

A theoretical perspective for social work
ByAbiot Simeon, Alice K. Butterfield, David P. Moxley

chapter 26|11 pages

Critical theory and social work

Historical context and contemporary manifestations
ByKenneth McLaughlin

chapter 27|12 pages

The return of macro approaches in social work

ByIain Ferguson

chapter 28|9 pages

Empowerment ideas in social work

ByPaul Stepney

chapter 29|10 pages

Anti-oppressive practice

ByJane Dalrymple, Beverley Burke

chapter 30|11 pages

Advocacy ideas in social work

ByTom Wilks

chapter 31|10 pages

Feminist ideas in social work

BySarah Wendt

part 4|112 pages

Theory in practice

chapter 32|10 pages

Family social work practice

ByFiona Morrison, Viviene E. Cree, Polly Cowan

chapter 33|12 pages

Theory for social work with children

ByKathleen Manion

chapter 34|10 pages

Safeguarding children and the use of theory in practice

ByPenelope Welbourne

chapter 35|9 pages

Child and adolescent mental health

A psychosocial perspective
ByEmma Reith-Hall

chapter 36|9 pages

Theories of mental health

ByPeter Benbow, Paul Blakeman

chapter 37|12 pages

Social work and addiction

ByHilda Loughran

chapter 38|13 pages

Disability theory and social work practice

ByStephen J. Macdonald, Lesley Deacon

chapter 39|13 pages

Accommodating cognitive differences

New ideas for social work with people with intellectual disabilities
ByChristine Bigby

chapter 40|13 pages

Social work theory and older people

ByMalcolm Payne

chapter 41|9 pages

Holistic end-of-life care in social work

ByCecilia L. W. Chan, Candy H. C. Fong, Y. L. Fung