Relationship-based practice

Our model of social work is underpinned by relationship-based practice. The idea that a social worker's relationship with the family is the most powerful tool to facilitate change.

Relationships, when they are trusting, empathic and authoritative, can be reparative. We believe that when social workers feel safe and supported, they can use a range of approaches and interventions. This depends on the family's specific circumstances to support change.

Relationship-based practice recognises individual's unique circumstances. It also recognises identity and should address discrimination and oppressive practice.

The principles of continuity of relationships and collaborative working fundamental to the Team Around the Relationship also build on the A BIT model.

The approaches identified below are consistent with relationship-based practice and underpin our overall model of practice. They should inform how practitioners support families from the first referral to permanence, as well as our training and Continuing Professional Development offer.

Strengths based approaches

Supporting individuals to recognise the resources they have at their disposal which they can use to counteract difficulties.

A commitment to using particular knowledge, skills, theories, and methods that attend to risk but from a strengths based perspective.

These include:

  • motivational change theory
  • solution focused approaches
  • video interactive guidance
  • signs of safety

Lead: Michelle Race

Systemic practice

A way of working which emphasises people's relationships as key to understanding their experiences and help to change patterns of thinking and behaviour.

Systemic practice also helps professionals to understand their own context. This includes how our own actions and thinking individually, and as teams organisations can impact on families, both helpfully and unhelpfully.

Lead: Jim Park

Trauma informed practice

The five principles of Trauma informed practice are:

  • safety
  • trust
  • collaboration
  • choice
  • empowerment

Understanding the impact of primary, secondary, transgenerational and vicarious trauma. Working in a sensitive and relationship based way to support resilience and recovery. If trauma occurs in relationships it is through relationships that recovery is possible.

Lead: Lianne Smith



  • the impact of early relationships on child development
  • how attachment strategies develop in different parenting contexts
  • how this affects behaviours and communication across the life course

Using a range of tools including the Secure Base model, Parenting with PACE, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, Care Index, and AAIs.

Lead: Rebecca Watts

Skills training

As well as these key approaches, there are core skills for social work practice.

For example:

  • assessment
  • analysis
  • court skills

These core skills are a key part of our training offer and we will add to them with specific areas that we wish to focus on at particular times. This could include supporting children in need or the Graded Profile for assessing neglect.

Safeguarding children partnership and further continuing professional development

These courses are also supplemented by the Safeguarding Children Partnership's offer for practitioners across the multi-agency system.

We're committed to the ongoing development of workers and our social work practice. There are opportunities to undertake courses at University, attend conferences, or undertake bespoke training in a specific area.

In order to access these we will ask you to fill in an application form which covers:

  • how it fits in with the wider strategy
  • previous training you have done
  • examples of your commitment to the LA
  • a clear plan about how you'll share your learning or use your new skills