Building Relationships with Young People: A Model for Practice

Cheryl Mc Mullin

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


This article discusses the importance of social work practitioners building relationships with «Looked after» or care experienced young people as they are a particular group most likely to have had many professionals or social work intervention in their lives. It examines the opportunities and challenges of building relationships with young people in contemporary social work practice. A young person may have had a number of social work practitioners, Winter (2015) highlights that continuous changes in their social worker can become a barrier to building positive relationships. This article shares practice experience as well as drawing on relational pedagogy to underpin the arguments for developing relational approaches and by applying a four stage relationship based model (McMullin, 2017 cited in McColgan and McMullin, 2017). In my experience relationships with young people become incredibly important even if at times the social work intervention was not initially welcome. Winter (2015) suggests that children desire better relationships with their social workers. Children and young people need warm and authentic adults who might not have all the answers or resources but essentially care; this can only be achieved through relational work.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Specialist publicationRelational Social Work
PublisherErickson International
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Oct 2018


  • Relationships
  • Child protection
  • Looked after young people
  • social work
  • model-based


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