Document Type

Finding a Fit: Family Realities and Service Responses Series (2003, 2007)

Publication Date



Faculty of Social Work


This project involved multiple, in-depth interviews with six worker-client dyads from child welfare. The dyads were selected on the basis of workers and clients agreeing that they had worked through some degree of negative interpersonal process toward the achievement of a good working relationship. For each dyad, two individual interviews with the worker and the client were followed by a joint interview. These interviews produced stories that described from workers' and clients' perspectives how the relationship developed over time, how difficulties were dealt with, and what impact the relationship had on the participants. Although these stories were written by the researchers, they were co-authored by workers and clients in the sense that the participants reviewed drafts of their stories, made suggestions for revisions, and agreed that the final product fairly represented their experience. Across story analyses yielded common themes with regard to worker and client contributions to the development of a good relationship, the qualities of a good relationship, and central issues and turning points in relationship development and client change. The results paint a picture of a good working relationship that is deeply human, integrates personal and professional elements, and takes time and effort to develop. Findings also provide insights about how the challenges of developing good relationships in child welfare, and in any helping endeavour, can be dealt with productively.