Journal Article

Depressed Mothers' Experience of Partnership in Child and Family Care

Michael Sheppard

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 32, issue 1, pages 93-112
Published in print January 2002 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online January 2002 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Depressed Mothers' Experience of Partnership in Child and Family Care

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Partnership is a key dimension of social work practice in child and family care, reflecting the significance attached to working with parents. While, however, considerable attention has been focused on the role of the social worker in encouraging partnership, rather less attention has been focused on the capacity of the mothers to engage in partnership. Depression, known to affect a considerable proportion of mothers in this client group, is, because of its debilitating psychological effects, of considerable potential significance, yet its effect on partnership has not been examined. This article focuses on exactly this issue. Findings show that depression has highly significant relationships with a number of facets of partnership. It shows also that partnership morale and quality of consultation mediate between depression and, respectively, participation in decision making and involvement in decision implementation—action by the mother to help resolve the situation. Depression and partnership are, furthermore, related in a complex way to the authority role invoked in cases of children ‘at risk’. The data indicate that the elements of low self‐esteem, vulnerability to criticism, and self‐blame are key factors in the mother's capacity to work in partnership. Social work practice must take these into account, requiring very high degrees of sensitivity and skill in working with mothers. Indeed, unlocking these pernicious cognitions may frequently require specialist techniques, such as the use of cognitive behaviour therapy. Overall, being ‘social worker for the child’ means also being ‘social worker for the parents (in particular the mother)’, who may well require high levels of encouragement.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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