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Communicating and Engaging with Others

Sally Riggall, Leonne Griggs and Leslie Hicks, Senior Lecturers, Hull School of Health and Social Care

Over 90 students – Sep 08 – June 09.  It is being repeated in 2009-10 academic year with the same programmes as below;
BSc (Hons) Social Work Full-time
BSc (Hons) Social Work Employment-based Route
Certificate in Social Care

 The aim of the teaching sessions is to help students develop practical and effective communication and problem solving skills from a defined, theoretical basis which place the service-user firmly at the centre of this process.  The main objectives of the teaching sessions were to enable the students, through practical exercises, to gain a thorough working knowledge of the Model. 

The aim of my research is to investigate whether the Egan Skilled Helper Model (primarily a counselling model) is an effective intervention method for social work and whether it assists in placing the service user at the centre of the helping process. I therefore, subsequently keep in touch with volunteers during their time on first practice placement to elicit feedback on how useful the model is in practice.

A pilot study was undertaken by me in 2007 with fifteen students who learned how to use the model in ten, two hour workshops.  Feedback was positive so the model was incorporated into the new Communicating and Engaging With Others module from September 2008.

I devised a workbook of activities from Egan’s model which were relevant to social work practice.  One lecture was given at the beginning of the module which was an overview of the Model.  Students were then facilitated in double groups for five full days by the three individual tutors.  Students worked on case studies and also in trios where they practised the skills and received feedback from observers within their group. Tutors were able to move between the two groups by working with trios and also offer observations of their progress.

The students worked in small groups and developed their skills in conjunction with the three tutors. Break-off rooms were utilised so students could develop their skills in quiet surroundings.  Periodically the tutor would ask both groups to come back to their main (large) teaching room and feed back on their progress.  The students wrote a weekly journal about their own development in being able to use this model.  They then used this to write a final piece of reflective work which explained Egan’s theoretical base, their development of skills, explored their barriers to engagement and finally specified further learning needs.  The module was deliberately placed in the third term so students would then progress to their first practice placement the following September and be able to use the skills.  Approximately 20 students (from two cohorts) then attended voluntary half hour meetings with me on each of their call-back days to talk about their progress with the model.  This feedback was recorded.

Primarily, the Egan Model is used in counselling but it is my belief that it is also highly relevant to social work practice too.  Students are actively engaged in developing a new set of skills and then applying these to social work on their placement.  They then return to the University to discuss the usefulness (or otherwise) of the model to social work.  I am currently writing up my findings from the students’ comments.

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