University of Hertfordshire

Working with Conflict in Social Work Practice

Research output: Book/ReportBook

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Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Electronic)978033524877
ISBN (Print)9780335248360
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2020


This book offers guidance and practice development strategies for social workers on the causes of, and effective responses to, the many different types of conflicts that they may experience from the classroom to the workplace.

In addition, the text sets out the complex, multi¬-layered and sometimes conflicting roles within social work settings, with the balancing of care and control functions, and safeguarding and empowering approaches.

Based on evidence of the range, extent and effects of behaviour, the book offers advice on how you can best recognize and work with issues that can cause conflict. These include:

• Reluctant service user engagement, resistance, and oppositional behaviours.
• Aggression, threats, abuse, and physical violence.
• Safeguarding responsibilities for vulnerable people, including in domestic violence and vulnerable adults and children work.
• Sexist, disablist, and racist behaviours, or where someone is being negatively targeted, bullied or harassed because of LGBTQ+ status.
• Situations where there is potential conflict between students, colleagues, managers, or other professionals (e.g. whistleblowing).


Brian Littlechild is Professor of Social Work at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, with a practice and management background in mental health, looked-after children, child safeguarding and working with young people who have offended. He has researched, published, worked, and trained in this area for over 35 years.

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