8 Communicating with children
Communicating with children is a very important area in social work that must be undertaken with as much preparation as possible, to ensure that the attempts at discussion and sharing of information and feelings reflect fully the age, development, and the capacity of the child. Children’s responses may have all sorts and layers of expectations, partial understandings, and divided loyalties, and therefore considerable skill is required to enable a child to feel safe enough to share their thoughts and feelings accurately.
Activity 2 Working with children
Listen to this brief audio where Sophie, a social worker from Cornwall, talks about her work. In the audio you will hear that Sophie recognises that it takes time to understand a child’s view. Her experience is that direct work provides opportunities over time to gain perspective on the child’s account of their situation. Sophie makes an important point about the clear boundaries that are needed when building a relationship around direct work with a child or young person. Nevertheless, if a social worker negotiates and establishes these honestly and effectively, it is possible to develop an enhanced and meaningful professional relationship with a child.
Sophie explains that some sessions with children may be targeted, for example, around managing anger or life story work. This kind of approach can be directly therapeutic for the child, as well as potentially providing reliable information with which to form more realistic assessments of the needs of children and their families.