Skip to main content

Working with Risk: Skills for Contemporary Social Work

Working with Risk: Skills for Contemporary Social Work

Hazel Kemshall , Bernadette Wilkinson , Kerry Baker

ISBN: 978-0-745-67208-3

Oct 2013, Polity

176 pages



Assessing and managing risk is a daily challenge for social workers. Working with risk can be anxiety provoking and demanding, requiring great skill and high levels of confidence. In these complex situations, social workers have to work hard to get the balance right.

This innovative book focuses on the development and use of skills for work with risk. Using a range of case studies, examples and reflective exercises, the authors examine the key skills required to work effectively with risk. Various chapters focus on assessment skills, gathering and evaluation of information, decision-making challenges, and ethical issues. Recognising the difficulties presented in the context of busy statutory work, there is a strong focus on practical skills and tips for improving risk management plans. The book also pays careful attention to the emotional impact of working with risk, with a final chapter on the management of self in the challenging and sometimes distressing world of social work.

Written in a reader-friendly, accessible style, the book will be essential reading for students and staff across a range of social work settings, including community care, adult services, child protection and mental health.

Figures and Activity Boxes vi

Acknowledgements ix

1 Understanding Risk 1

2 Skills for Risk Assessment 9

3 The Art of Decision Making 43

4 Risk Planning and Management 71

5 Risk and Ethics 101

6 Review and Evaluation of Risk 121

7 Managing Self in the Organizational Context 146

Conclusion 166

References 173

Index 188

"As we would expect from Hazel Kemshall and colleagues, this text conveys complex ideas about risk and danger whilst making them meaningful to social work practitioners struggling to work ethically and proportionately in organizations and systems focused on managing institutional risk and blame."
Sue White, University of Birmingham

"This new book addresses a high priority aspect of practice for social work in the modern world. Building on professional experience, research and teaching, this book is rooted in practice issues, and it will be valued by social workers in diverse settings to help them reflect on and develop their work in this complex area."
Brian Taylor, University of Ulster
  • Covers a core component of social work training: how to assess and manage risk
  • Strong focus on the practical skills required to confidently face this everyday challenge, with all service-user groups
  • Clearly and carefully lays out the frameworks and stages involved in balancing and managing risks
  • Supports reflection and learning by including case studies, examples and reflective exercises alongside the main text