Promoting systemic thinking, and therapeutic and relationship based approaches in social work


Promoting systemic thinking, and therapeutic and relationship-based approaches in Social Work

Clare Winnicott Essay Awards 2024

The 2024 Clare Winnicott Essay Awards are open for submissions from unpublished Social Work Practitioners and Social Work Students

Welcome to GAPS

GAPS is a UK based charity which promotes relationship-based approaches and psychodynamic and systemic thinking in social work. It is funded by its ownership of the ISI ranked Journal of Social Work Practice, which was established by the group in the 1980s.

GAPS offers spaces for Social Workers, Social Work Students and Academics to connect and reflect, and to develop skills in and understanding of relationship-based practice.

We regularly run workshops, seminars and public lectures, and in addition to these free events, we hold a national conference each year. We actively encourage Social Workers to write for publication, and to explore initiatives that develop social work practice. Annual essay awards and an ongoing bursary scheme support such initiatives.

The GAPS website is a further space for reading, sharing and developing your thinking. The website allows you to contribute to discussions with social work colleagues and write short pieces for others to read.

We are always pleased to receive questions and suggestions from members, subscribers and people interested in the work of GAPS.

Get in touch

What We Do

Nigel Elliott

Remembering Nigel Elliott

GAPS Treasurer, Trustee and Friend


Editorial – Volume 37, Issue 3 (2023)

We begin this editorial with the sad news of the death of Andrew Cooper, former Editor of this journal and Professor of Social Work at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Andrew’s contribution to the social work profession over many decades has been considerable and his loss will be felt by many nationally and internationally. We offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends and all whose lives he has touched.

Editorial – Volume 37, Issue 4 (2023)

This general issue presents articles focused on social work with children and young people in Belgium, Estonia, Ireland, Norway and the UK. Together they address a range of issues about how social workers promote the wellbeing of children and young people and work with other professionals in challenging practice situations, within complex organisational settings and social policy contexts.

Editorial – Volume 38, Issue 1 (2024)

Welcome to the first issue of 2024. This general issue presents articles focused on topics ranging from psychoanalytical and systemic theories in the fields of organisational systems, supervision and professional identity to the importance of social and cultural contexts in understanding complex social problems.

Non Violent Resistance: A Personal Journey and Reflections on its role in Social Work

Anna Flecknoe draws on professional and personal experiences to consider the possibilities of non violent resistance in work with parents struggling with challenging behaviours.

We’re looking for a Social Media Champion…

a Social Work Practitioner or Social Work Student to help us build and strengthen our networks, explore new communication channels to deepen the impact of our work

The Reflexive Supervisor

The challenges and complexities of working in the human service field are varied and multi-faceted. Supervisors of practitioners require a range of competencies to ensure safe and ethical practice. The ability to take account of self and think reflexively is a crucial attribute of the thoughtful and effective supervisor

Editorial – Volume 37, Issue 2 (2023)

The original idea for a Special Issue focusing on poverty stems back several years when it seemed timely to take stock of how continuing austere times were impacting upon service users and the social work profession.

Editorial – Volume 37, Issue 1 (2023)

Welcome to the first issue of 2023. This issue includes papers on a range of topics and themes which display the breadth and depth of practice issues that feature in contemporary social work practice.

Childism and the Child in Care in England

This article is about children in care and their multi-professional care networks. The article proposes that professionals in the field committed to extending their appreciations of how to listen to and improve the ways in which they care for children could usefully add the lens of childism to their repertoire of practices.

Relationship Based Practice in Child Protection: An insurmountable problem?

Richard Devine asks:
How realistic is it that I can form a therapeutic relationship in such a fraught context? How can I make sense of the gulf experienced between this encounter and the idealised concepts heavily promoted in social work literature? Ideas such as coproduction, collaboration, empowerment, and anti-discriminatory practice.
Ideas such as unconditional positive regard, genuineness, and empathy.

Practice Development Bursaries

GAPS Members are invited to apply for bursary funding for activities which support practice development consistent with therapeutic, systemic and/or relationship-based approaches.

Centre for Social Work Practice Legacy Fund

The legacy fund was launched on 9th November 2021... find out more...

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The Reflexive Supervisor

The Reflexive Supervisor

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The Middle Passage

The Middle Passage

The term ‘midlife crisis’ refers to a phenomenon where a mid-point of life can trigger significant identity, relational and lifestyle changes. Hollis shuns the term ‘crisis’ and instead talks ...
How do we understand relationships now?

How do we understand relationships now?

A discussion which began during the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, when many social workers worked from home and met clients and colleagues online. Our Trustees, Nigel and Katharine begin ...