n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - "What works?" Core knowledge required in social work with the offender

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The effective social worker needs to have the most inclusive educational preparation possible: both a broad generalist base of knowledge, skills and values and in-depth proficiency in practice, the conscious use of self with selected social work methods and specific populations (Derezotes, 2000: 5).

For the correctional social worker this implies the development of a greater in-depth understanding of how to apply the best combinations of approaches to a very specific and diverse population, namely the offender within the correctional environment. Although social work's unique focus is on the interrelationship between the individual and the environment, the correctional social work practitioner needs more than just generalist knowledge, skills and values to operate in the harsh world of corrections with its increasing and complex problems.
Social workers employed in a correctional setting must have the ability to perform in diverse contexts and with offenders from diverse backgrounds, sentences, dispositions and needs. This implies the ability to understand, assess, make choices and plan appropriate intervention by utilising and combining knowledge and experience (Vass 1996: 195).
This article covers literature on the core social work knowledge required in working with the offender in the field of corrections.


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