Hi, World

I'm reaching out from

The University of Life (North East Hub)

Reading time: 2¾ minutes (approx!)

30 October 2011

Dear Marian @ Krysan


I have a dream.  My dream is to work in health and social care and I wonder if you can recommend a book that might help.  Working with people (especially children) is my life-time ambition and I intend to return to learning to achieve this.  Currently, I am a stay-at-home mum. 

Any thoughts?

Secret Scholar

Date as postmark

Dear Secret Scholar


As a newly-minted bibliotherapist, I can indeed help you.  This very week, I acquired a book that I am confident will assist you in making important career decisions.  The book is,

HENNESSEY, ROGER (2011), Relationship Skills in Social Work, pub. London, Sage.

It goes without saying that human relationships lie at the very heart of health and social care practice, and an understanding of their importance is a crucial aspect of training.  This book considers the place of relationships and explores the ways in which social workers (and others) can use relationship skills to achieve the best possible outcomes for their clients.

What is unique about the book - in my view - is that it also offers a discussion of the social worker's relationship with him or herself, arguing that self-awareness is as essential to good practice as an emotional understanding of the other.  In taking this stance, it promotes a new model for relationship-based social work, which emphasises the importance of both the interpersonal and intrapersonal.

Opening with an introduction to the theoretical bases of the relationship-based model, the book then focuses on their direct application to social work practice.  Key topics include:

  • The importance of relationships to human development
  • Self-awareness and using oneself
  • Knowing the other person
  • Sustaining oneself
  • The ethics of relationship-base social work
  • Internalising knowledge, skills and values. 

Sadly, lessons on 'learning to learn' were not part of the school curriculum in times past as they are now, but on the plus side teaching techniques/strategies have changed a great deal over the years.  I, therefore, see the reflective exercises and case studies in Relationship Skills in Social Work as a good preparation for anyone returning to study after a long absence. 

Furthermore, in this useful and readable book students are encouraged to relate the tools they have learnt to practice scenarios from the real world.  Professor David Howe of the University of East Anglia has this to say about the book in question,

"Roger Hennessey has written a wonderfully warm and readable book about the importance of a relationship-based approach to social work practice.  It is full of wisdom, humanity, and commonsense.  The book is rich with examples and exercises.  You know that you are in the hands of an expert whose skill, experience and understanding shine and reassure on every page."  DAVID HOWE (2011) 

You will find details of enrichment reading in the references below.  The books mentioned include the late David Brandon's original and practical, Zen in the Art of Helping. This, too, is worth its weight in gold, not least because the author aims to encourage readers to view their own problems, and those of others, in a way that sits well with what Roger Hennessey has to say.  

David Brandon's book is closely linked with the concept of love found in all the great world religions and is especially close to the practice of nowness and meditation in Zen Buddhism.  Go to SCHOOL OF LIFE on the side menu for more on this subject.

Last - but not least - is yet another book of high genius which is also recommended for its broad appeal and as background reading for people who wish to truly understand their neighbours.  This is the late D. E. Harding's, Religions of the World: a handbook for the open-minded.  

American statesman Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790) wrote, "Dost thou love life? Then waste not time; for time is the stuff that life is made of." 

That reminds me - I have a [reflective] essay to write ... 

Have a good day and a great life.  

Yours (in haste)

Marian @ Krysan


HENNESSEY, ROGER (2011), Relationship Skills in Social Work, pub. London, Sage.


BRANDON, DAVID (1976), Zen in the Art of Helping, pub. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul.


HARDING, D. E. (1966), Religions of the World: a handbook for the open-minded, pub. London, Sholland Trust 


"For some, learning is the end in itself. 

"When Growth and Curiosity are paired, this is often the case. People with this ‘strengths dynamic’ want to know purely for the intrinsic pleasure of knowing. Their learning and advancement is not about being better than others, not about achieving a goal, not about self-improvement. It is simply what they do and love to do - their own intrinsic reward through interest and enjoyment.

Combine Growth with Action and you find the person who will always be likely to get started and to get stuck in - often just to see what they can learn from the experience. The Growth-Action dynamic is self-starting, proactive and experiential. These people learn by doing, not by pondering. Rather than wonder about what might be, they act and find out what will be.

“While some people learn for the sake of learning through their Growth strength, others will orient and focus their learning towards a specific objective. When Growth combines with Mission, the person's focus is on what they want to know, to learn, to achieve. Their Growth strength gives them the impetus to set off on the journey; the integration with Mission provides the focus of a known destination. "I'm learning law to become a human rights lawyer."  "I'm reading up on English Literature because I'd like to be a writer." These are examples of the end-goal that directs the learning path that is taken.

“Depending on the nature and direction of your learning goals, you may need to combine Growth with Persistence. When medical students start their learning journeys, they know they are signing up for years of study, dedication and learning - and that not everything will be sweetness and roses. Instead, they'll need to call on their Persistence from time to time to get them through, or their Mission to provide the end-focus that drives them on.

"Finally, if you are [still] reading this you will realise that Growth maybe isn't one of the strengths that defines you, but don't despair! As human beings,all of us are naturally oriented to our own growth and development - a concept that Carl Rogers called the 'actualizing tendency'. The challenge is that, for some of us, this tendency can get bent out of shape or distorted by our environment, but it is always there, whispering in the background.”

The advice is to:

  • ·         re-awaken the Growth strength,
  • ·         strive to hear the whisper of the inner voice and
  • ·         re-connect with a desire to grow in the direction that is right for you.   

The aim is to live your life in glorious Technicolour.


The above article on Growth and Curiosity was written by positive psychologist Dr. Alex Linley of the Centre for Positive Psychology.  He said,

"Welcome to the Realise2 Strengths Dynamics series, which looks at how different strengths combine in different ways, and some of the implications of what happens when they do."

Best Wishes

Alex Linley 




Marian @ Krysan  

- ENDS -

8,788 reads @ 2015-12-20

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