Building the Client’s Relational Base

A Multi-Disciplinary Handbook

Mark Furlong

Building the Client’s Relational Base

Mark Furlong

Distributed for Bristol University Press

320 pages | 31 figures, 3 tables | 6 3/4 x 9 1/2 | © 2013
Paper $39.95 ISBN: 9781847428615 Published April 2013 For sale in North and South America only
Cloth $110.00 ISBN: 9781847428622 Published April 2013 For sale in North and South America only
This book makes a challenging—but hopeful—argument for anyone with a client relationship: sustainable and accountable interpersonal relationships are a precondition for health and well-being. It argues that there are always opportunities to deepen the quality and range of the client connection. Compellingly written, it brings a host of case studies to life, weaving insights from critical theory and social epidemiology into explorations of the practical actions that any professional committed to strengthening the relational base of their clients can take.

List of vignettes, tables, figures, and reflective exercises


About the author

1          Introduction

            Aims of the text

            Policy and practice

            Origins of the work

            Structure of the book

2          Anchor points

            You can’t ‘just do it’: practical theory

            Social determinants of health

            A process of individualization

            Principles from feminist and critical scholarship

            Generalizing about ‘normal’ and at-risk populations

3          Isolation and its accomplices

            Are interpersonal attachments necessary?

            Kinship libido

            Loneliness and autonomy

            Social inclusion and social exclusion

            Dynamics of isolation

4          How are we getting along?

            Insiders and outsiders

            The experience of individualization

            In and out of control

            Vitamin me

            Can the cycles of loneliness and isolation be interrupted?

5          Questioning professional norms

            Painting ourselves into the picture

            Agents of connection or separation?

            Problematic professional norms

            Practice wisdom and the culture of practitioners

6          The practitioner’s context

            The organizational constraints to relationally focused practice

            Conflicts between the cultures of clients and professionals

            Every client has a culture

            Accessing complex interpersonal data

7          Attitudes determine practice


            Attitudes inform practice: thinking relationally

            - Reflective exercise 1: Clarifying your values

            - Reflective exercise 2: Thinking about Lennie

            - Reflective exercise 3: Separation and connection

            Decision points in relationally oriented practice

            The assessment process


8          Relationship-building skills

            Getting started

            Addressing the client as a relational being

            Working systemically with individuals

            Bringing in others: conjoint work and its variations

            Being creative with confidentiality

            Advanced relational work

            Role of planners, managers, and supervisors

9          Learning to act well relationally

            Working up an etiquette

            - Reflective exercise 4: Leading questions

            A simple relating exercise

            Coaching clients

            Five specific engagements to improve relational capacity

            Mediated forms of relating

            A complex example: working relationship building in a secure setting

10        Being an agent of cultural change

            The business of practice

            The practitioner as cultural actor

            Fantasized and complex autonomy

            Can traditional models of practice be relationship building?

            Summing up



Subject index

Author index

Review Quotes
British Journal of Social Work
“This book is a refreshing re-examination of current practice and helpful in suggesting a variance in approach that might be effective in terms of outcomes for the client: it is well worth reading.”
Rona Woodward, University of Stirling
“Mark Furlong has written a valuable sourcebook that will appeal to a wide range of practitioners who are seeking a new yet rigorous approach to their work with clients. It draws creatively on theories of individualism, isolation, inequality, and exclusion to make a strong case for practice that supports clients to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones.” 
Nigel Parton, University of Huddersfield
“Theoretically sophisticated and very practice oriented; Mark Furlong makes a significant contribution to promoting professional practices which aim to develop the client’s ‘relational self’. A very timely and engaging book.”    
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