Building resilience in social work: A multi-level approach

Kinman, Gail and Grant, Louise (2023) Building resilience in social work: A multi-level approach. In: Resilience in Modern Day Organizations. Current Issues in Work and Organizational Psychology . Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 141-160. ISBN 9781003287858

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Social care work is rewarding, but complex and emotionally demanding. The intrinsic pressures of the role combined with the broader context of contemporary social work presents many challenges and practitioners are vulnerable to work-related stress and burnout. This has negative implications not only for their own wellbeing, but also their ability to work effectively with service users. In this chapter, we focus on the need for a systemic, multi-level approach to building resilience in social work organizations. Firstly, we provide an overview of literature that has examined the wellbeing of social workers and the key risk factors and then highlight the potential for resilience to help them manage the emotional hazards of practice and remain healthy and effective. While resilience is typically characterised by the ability of individuals to learn and adapt to adversity, it is only sustainable when underpinned by supportive organizational policies and practices. We maintain that what is considered “resilience” is shaped by the context within which people operate—the demands they experience, the qualities they require do their job effectively, and the features of their working environment. Drawing on research conducted by ourselves and others, we set out a systemic approach that identifies the meaning of resilience in social work settings and the individual and organizational factors that underpin it. We also identify actions that can be taken at individual, team and organizational levels to foster a workplace climate that builds the capacity for resilience among social workers to support their wellbeing and optimum practice.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Human Psychological Processes > Stress
Social Welfare > Social Welfare Personnel
Social Welfare > Social Work
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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