Cultivating Client Initiatives in Social Work: An Interactional Exploration

Tanja Dall, Sabine Jørgensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Client participation is one of the social work’s central ideals, yet several studies have illustrated the challenges around including client perspectives in decision-making and action-planning procedures in institutional settings. The present study explores how social workers can help clients form and expresses their views to influence decisions about how to proceed in their case. We use a discourse analysis methodology focused on naturally occurring interactions in meetings in which a client initiative has consequences for the decisions made. Our analysis illustrates a process where the social worker assists the client in taking the initiative to form and express their views about how to proceed in the case followed by joint exploration, adjustment and concretisation of the client’s initiative into an institutional referral. This account casts participation in conversation as more than the acceptance or implementation of clients’ ideas or requests. Rather, participation in this setting is a negotiated activity that entails supporting clients in developing thoughts and ideas about how to achieve their long-term goals within the available framework of institutional resources. The analysis offers concrete implications for practice, as the single case illustrates interactional practices involved in facilitating client participation within a welfare-to-work context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)2312-2328
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • brugerinddragelse
  • discourse analysis
  • labour market


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