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

Two awards of £500 each are made annually in honour of Clare Winnicott, OBE. The competition aims to encourage writing among social work practitioners and social work students who have not previously been published. Winning essays will be published in the Journal of Social Work Practice.

Essays submitted for the award may refer to any field of social work, with children, families, adults or organisations and will reflect current themes. They will show emotional and intellectual sophistication. Essays will be explicitly informed by psychodynamic, systemic, or relationship-based theory, or a combination of these, in keeping with the remit of the Journal of Social Work Practice, where winning essays will be published.

Entries are marked anonymously. 

Requirements for Submission

  • Word length: up to 3500 words
  • Submission: electronic
  • Essays must not identify the author but should be accompanied by an application form.
  • Entrants should ensure anonymity in relation to people and organisations described, and ethical and professional standards of practice should be adhered to.
  • Submission date and time: midnight on July 3rd 2022 
  • Notification of judges’ decision: September 1st 2022
  • Creative approaches are welcomed (work must be appropriate for print and online publication – questions regarding appropriateness will be answered in advance of submission)

Winning Entries will be published in the Journal of Social Work Practice. The awards are presented at GAPS Conference, October 2022

Applicants should download application forms and further documentation here:

About Clare Winnicott

Clare Winnicott (née Britton, 1906-1984) was first a social worker and subsequently also a psychoanalyst. Through her work with deprived children and evacuees, she made an outstanding contribution to our understanding of children’s development, the importance of play, and the significance of children’s connection to their families. Alongside Donald Winnicott, who latterly became her husband, she provided clear-sighted conceptualisations of children’s everyday emotional experiences. She was also highly influential in the training and education of social workers, and recognised the crucial role of supervision. Her ideas were novel and she showed wisdom and tenacity in her efforts to bring about change. In describing the professional relationship, she wrote:

Our professional relationship is in itself the basic technique, the one by means of which we relate ourselves to the individual and to the problem. But what of the professional self that relates? If we look at it objectively we find that it is the most highly organised and integrated part of ourselves. It is the best of ourselves, and includes all our positive and constructive impulses and all our capacity for personal relationships and experiences organised together for a purpose –the professional function which we have chosen.[1]

[1] Winnicott, C. (1964) Child Care and Social Work. Hitchin: Codicote Press, p. 12.
GAPS Trustees wish to thank Mark Gerson for permission to use his photograph of Clare Winnicott.

2021 Winner

The winner of the 2021 Practitioner Category Award was Rebecca Booth.  Rebecca is a Therapeutic Social Worker, a Professional Doctorate student at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and a Practice Tutor at Frontline.

Her essay discusses the implementation of a new creative life story work project within a statutory children’s services department of a UK Local Authority. The project looks to strengthen the use of life story work within statutory children’s social work teams, involving the introduction of a model developed by Professor Richard Rose.

Our 2021 National Conference audience heard Rebecca talk about the work that inspired the essay.  The essay is published in Vol.36 Issue 1 of the Journal of Social Work Practice. Well done Rebecca.

Writing for the GAPS Website

Do you have an idea for a short article you could write for GAPS?

We offer an authors' fee of £400 per article.

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.

Journal of Social Work Practice

More about the journal...

Centre for Social Work Practice Legacy Fund

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