Interviewing is a central activity of social workers, in two ways. First, they spend much of their time talking to clients, colleagues, and people in other social service departments, etc. These conversations are interviews in the sense that interviewing skills can be used to good effect in them. Their aims distinguish them to some extent from relatively casual encounters: they include giving and obtaining information, making a request, persuading, helping someone make a decision. Of Davies’ (1981) twelve varieties of social work all except perhaps one require extensive interviewing in this sense, that is somewhere between conversations and very formal interviews. The second way in which interviewing is central to social work is that it is in interviews that knowledge of practice is used more or less well, or even wasted. For example, faced with a case of non-accidental injury, a social worker needs to know his or her legal obligations and powers, but this knowledge is most relevant after obtaining good information on how the injury came about — information obtained mainly through interviewing.
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- The best research on interviewer training so far is by Maguire and Rutter (see Maguire, 1981). See also Egan (1982) who gives an exceptionally clear and authoritative account of stages 1 to 3 of the model presented and discussed in a simpler form here. Stage 1 of the model is essentially Rogerian counselling — see, for example, Rogers (1978), Gilmore (1973) — and stage 3 emphasises a behavioural approach — see Egan (1982) and Sutton (1979). Kadushin (1972) is an American book which integrates research and experience well and is written specifically for social workers.Google Scholar