Olive Stevenson is the foremost social work educator of her generation; an inspiring lecturer, a prolific scholar and inquring researcher and committed public servant and consultant. For more than fifty years she taught social workers at the Universities of Bristol, Oxford and Keele and latterly the University of Nottingham, and inspired many others through her work. Her professional life spanned the years during which the role and task of social work was vigorously debated.
This memoir covers the disparate parts of a life spent in public service and reflects honestly on some key questions for the author and for the profession: What early influences shaped an enduring commitment to social work?; What role did class and religion play in shaping a personal and public morality?; How did major events such as the Maria Colwell Inquiry (1973) shape public attitudes and public policy in relation to child protection?; Who and what influenced the profession’s ambivalent engagement with psychoanalytic ideas?; How can social work ensure a future based on helping vulnerable people through therapeutic relationships?
With characteristic candour and clarity, Olive tackles these questions and more in a book that will be of interest to practising social workers, social work educators and anyone concerned to understand the story behind the headlines that are, too often, deeply critical of the motives and practice of social workers.
Includes two previously unpublished lectures, The 1999 Graham Lecture ‘Growing Older: What is it Like?’ which prompted Olive to begin the process of examining the many influences on her life and work, and ‘Direct Work with Children: The relevance of Clare Winnicott’s teaching to contemporary social work practice’, a discussion of the work of Olive’s former mentor at the London School of Economics, as well as a complete bibliography of Olive’s published works.
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