Wilkins, David (2017, March). Using Q methodology to understand how child protection social workers use attachment theory. Child & Family Social Work, 22(4), 70-80. (doi: 10.1111/cfs.12276) (Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12276)

Abstract: Child and family social workers in England are expected to integrate theory and research into their practice. This study investigated how a small sample of social workers from three Local Authorities in Southern England used key ideas from contemporary attachment theory when working with children who may have been abused or neglected. Twenty-four social workers completed a Q-sort of 49 items. Four factors emerged from the data, each representing a distinct collective perspective – the use of attachment theory (1) to enable a focus on and better understanding of the child; (2) to enable social workers to take clear decisions and interview purposefully; (3) to emphasize the primacy of relationships and ethical partnership working and (3) as a general framework for understanding and helping parents. These factors are described alongside a discussion of the implications for the use of theory and research in practice.

David Wilkins <wilkinsd3@cardiff.ac.uk> is in the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.