Exploring communication between social workers and children and young people

Karen Winter, Viviene Cree, Sophie Hallett, Mark Hadfield, Gillian Ruch, Fiona Morrison, Sally Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A key issue for the social work profession concerns the nature, quality and content of communicative encounters with children and families. This article gives introduces findings from a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) that took place across the United Kingdom between 2013 and 2015, which explored how social workers communicate with children in their everyday practice. The Talking and Listening to Children (TLC) project had three phases: the first was ethnographic, involving observations of social workers in their workplace and during visits; the second used video-stimulated recall with a small number of children and their social workers; and the third developed online materials to support social workers. This paper discusses findings from the first phase. It highlights a diverse picture regarding the context and content of communicative processes; it is argued that attention to contextual issues is as important as focusing on individual practitioners’ behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1427–1444
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Early online date14 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • social workers
  • communication
  • children and families
  • ethnography
  • visits


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