Understanding the use of self in social work practice

Margaret Arnd-Caddigan, Richard Pozzuto


Since the inception of social work numerous practice theories have been advocated. These range from the “Friendly Visitors” of the Charity Organization Society to the co-constructors of reality of post modern practice. Each of these perspectives emphasized the importance of “relationship” in practicing social work. This term in more recent times has been called “use of self.” Rarely in the literature is either “self” or “use of self” defined. This article illustrates the links between practice theory and assumptions about self. The authors provide a relational perspective of self and then define both self and use of self for social work practice. Finally, an example of use of self is provided.


self; use of self; knowledge in practice; relational theory; practice theory

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789