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


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


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.

Journal of Social Work Practice and GAPS

Psychodynamic and systemic practice in social work are central to both the Journal of Social Work Practice and GAPS.  The journal’s independent editorial board, which meets regularly, is chaired by the Co-Editors Gloria Kirwan and Andrew Whittaker.

Read more about the journal


Membership of GAPS is open to all and will particularly appeal to practitioners, students, and researchers in the area of social work and related fields as well as those interested in social work, psychodynamic and systemic theory and practice.

UK Membership of GAPS costs £28.00 per year. GAPS members receive printed copies of the Journal of Social Work Practice, online access to the full archive, and two other journals. Members also enjoy a reduced rate for our annual conference and may apply for our Practice Development Bursary Scheme.

Join GAPS or Subscribe


We regularly runworkshops, 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.

Centre for Social Work Practice and GAPS

GAPS and the Centre for Social Work Practice enjoyed a shared purpose of supporting relationship based practice in social work for many years. The Centre closed in 2020, but it’s legacy lives on through a fund held within GAPS which supports innovative work in the area of relationship-based practice, including therapeutic provision, education, practice development and research.

Find out more about the Legacy Fund


GAPS is governed by its Constitution, revised in 2019, which sets out the appointment of Trustees and their roles and responsibilities. Trustees have ultimate responsibility for directing the policy and affairs of the charity, in accordance with Charity Commission requirements and guidelines. The day-to-day running of GAPS is organised by our Coordinator and our Administrator both of whom focus on providing resources and organising events for social work practitioners, managers and other interested parties, promoting the Journal of Social Work Practice and representing the organisation.

View trustee and staff profiles

History of GAPS

In the 1980s, a group of social workers interested in working with psychodynamic ideas established GAPS (Group for the Advancement of Psychodynamics and Psychotherapy in Social Work) and the Journal of Social Work Practice. Since that time, GAPS has promoted the importance of relationship-based approaches in social work, and therapeutic, psychodynamic and systemic perspectives – perspectives that are central to the editorial policy of the Journal of Social Work Practice, which is owned by the GAPS membership.

Read the Journal’s’ first editorial

Get in touch

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

Centre for Social Work Practice Legacy Fund

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

Practice Development Bursaries

GAPS Members may apply for bursaries to fund, for example, conference attendance, setting up a work discussion group, running a workshop, or other practice development opportunities.