What place, and meaning, does resilience hold in frontline social work practice?

Registered social workers are being invited to share their knowledge and experiences as part of research into resilience in contemporary practice

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By Di Galpin

Research in resilience and its role in social work practice consistently refers to the idea of an innate strength or capacity available to humans enabling recovery from trauma and stress. It also looks at the development of an approach to practice that seeks to identify and strengthen individual ‘coping strategies’.

These interconnections have become acknowledged as a central organising feature. A ‘resilience framework’ has emerged over the past decade, aimed at guiding social workers in applying resilience in their practice, whilst demonstrating resilience themselves to manage day to day complexities of practice.

‘Mind the gap’- research into resilience

Quantitative research findings present resilience as a viable, and relevant framework, for working with users of services, but there is limited research into social workers’ experiences of the place and meaning of resilience in their day to day world of practice.

The development of personal resilience has come to be seen as a method of enabling social workers to cope with the everyday stresses of their work. The focus in this context appears to be on individualising resilience, and the exclusion of exploring wider structural factors.

Practitioners are expected to learn resilience to address issues of ‘burn out’ and retention. However, is this possible and has this been effective?

New research into experience of ‘resilience’

The University of Plymouth is researching the meaning and place of ‘resilience’ in social work training and practice.

We believe social workers’ experience of resilience, as both a tool for practice and a professional requisite, is vital to understanding the place and meaning of resilience in professional practice today.

Our aim is to give a voice to social workers to challenge and inform current practice in this area. We want social workers to take this opportunity to tell us how it really is, to go beyond the rhetoric of resilience to establish the reality in contemporary practice today across the sector.

Be part of the research

Plymouth University wants to hear from HCPC registered social workers in the first phase of research.

This research aims to listen to your experiences to develop an informed approach to understanding the place and meaning of resilience in contemporary social work practice. As part of the first phase we are asking for participants for a short survey. The survey asks you about your role, your understanding of resilience and your experience of its application.

The research team will analyse survey comments an will draw on these findings to develop the next phase, where we will engage with social workers to gather more in-depth information from participants.

Findings from the initial survey, and subsequent stages, will be shared via Community Care, and other social media platforms such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook. All our findings will be used to draw attention to current practice in social work and to inform, where possible, policy and curriculum development related to this area of social work practice.

All responses to this survey are anonymous and if you would like to take part please click here

Di Galpin is academic lead for social work at Plymouth University


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