Complexity lies at the heart of social work practice and this book is designed to help students and newly-qualified social workers plan for and manage complex cases in an increasingly complex environment. Split into two parts, this book reflects the journey of qualifying social work students from preparation for practice in an educational context to learning ‘on the job’ through working with service users in practice settings, and eventually assuming a more senior role in management, administration and training. Key topics covered in the chapters include, managing volatility and uncertainty; making judgements and decisions; building and maintaining relationships; using reflection and supervision; working interprofessionally; managing risk; exploring cause and effect.

Understanding Complex Needs
Understanding Complex Needs
Chapter Summary

This chapter considers the concept of need, which is central to many areas of social work practice. It starts by discussing how need is generally understood by professionals, with reference to Maslow’s hierarchical model, and discusses some dilemmas around identification and response. The chapter will then examine the significance of complex needs, which usually take the form of multiple problems that intersect with each other and pose a challenge for services designed around professional specialisms. Some comments are made on the link between need and risk, before focusing on implications for social work assessment. Case studies are used to illustrate the importance of constructing hypotheses and exploring competing explanations of need.


The concept of need is central to policy ...

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