The European Journal of Social Work is a new forum for academic debate in the social professions. It publishes refereed papers on key contemporary issues in social policy social service institutions and strategies of social change. The focus is primarily European but major international contributions are also published. The Journal aims to reflect the diversity of cultural and conceptual traditions in which the social professions in Europe are grounded. At the same time it seeks to examine emerging European paradigms in methodology and comparative analysis.
RG Journal Impact: 0.56 *
*This value is calculated using ResearchGate data and is based on average citation counts from work published in this journal. The data used in the calculation may not be exhaustive.
Whilst it is commonly recognised that highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) has increased the life expectancy of people living with HIV (PLWH), it has also presented a number of new challenges that appear to have altered the experience of living with HIV considerably. This paper argues that significant advances and innovations in medical treatments has led to the marginalisation of a number of psychological, social and economic needs that stem from receiving a diagnosis of HIV. Rather than continuing to ignore both these difficulties and the existential implications of a diagnosis – such as restructuring one's sense of self, control and future orientation – a specific and tailored social work response is required to support PLWH in regaining their sense of control and self-determination. The study is based on findings from a focus group of 15 PLWH and a further 5 in-depth interviews; it thereby seeks to give a voice to a group frequently marginalised within social work research, and accurately capture the lived experiences of PLWH in the era of HAART.
While ‘care’ has been positioned as a core value of the social work profession since its inception, the increasing influence of neoliberal rationalities have placed care on the periphery of social work theory and practice. Social work scholars have promoted the incorporation of ethic of care theory into direct social work practice as a means of countering the effects of a context that is antithetical to caring practice. I present findings from my Australian study, providing an original contribution by presenting concrete understandings of how social workers enact care in everyday direct social work practice. The study was guided by a grounded theory approach. Fifteen social workers were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. The interviews were analysed using constructivist grounded theory techniques. ‘Meeting needs’, ‘just being there for clients’, ‘building relationships with clients’, and ‘going the extra mile’ were some of the ways that participants demonstrated care in their practice. Constraints on care were challenged and resisted by ‘taking a stand’, ‘bending the rules’, ‘picking battles’, ‘justifying care’, and ‘taking risks’.
General career research suggests that many factors may influence how people select a career, including information about or exposure to the career. The focus of this paper is upon how exposure to a social worker personally (e.g. friend or family) or in a therapeutic capacity (e.g. received social work therapy) may influence the decision to become a social worker, when compared to other disciplines. The results showed that 63% of 64 social work students had personal and/or professional exposure to social work prior to making a career decision. When compared to other students (n = 447) the social work students were significantly more likely to have accessed social work services (themselves or a family member). The influence of a friend who was a social worker and working with a social worker was noteworthy for mature-aged students. These results highlight that every interaction social workers have with the community provides valuable information about the profession and gives insight into social work as a career. Additionally, the results suggest that the increase in numbers of social workers and the influence of that exposure to a social worker have resulted in an increase in the use of social work services by students, and may continue to rise in the future.
This article presents a series of creative social intervention experiences developed with a group of homeless people in the Spanish city of Seville. These experiences are part of an applied research project that uses theatre as a tool to aid social work, and they are led by a group of homeless people who have become actors through this initiative. The group is known as ‘Theatre of Inclusion’ and has been running for a decade now. Using group social work and applied theatre techniques, this initiative creatively exposes the needs of this collective and also generates spaces in which they can reclaim their dignity. The systematisation of these experiences highlights the potential of combining disciplines such as social work and theatre to work with vulnerable collectives, in the same way Jane Addams did. The aim is also to move beyond the dominant welfare proposals in place in Spain currently, which are intended to meet the needs of homeless people.
Since the 1980s and within a context of neoliberal globalization, the welfare state provision in many countries has been affected adversely by austerity and social spending cuts that have intensified since the last global financial crisis of 2008. A country that has been particularly harshly affected is Greece. This paper draws on interviews with public sector social workers in Greece and presents their perceptions of the consequences of austerity/social spending cuts on their work. The research findings of this study suggest that, within the context of austerity, social workers are facing a number of challenges and tensions. The paper argues that these tensions and challenges are local manifestations of the global conditions of neoliberal globalization and as such they have relevance for other countries. Furthermore, it argues that this understanding needs to inform the actions of social workers. It is important for these tensions and challenges to be contextualized within the socio-economic conditions in which they arise in order for austerity and social spending cuts to become a locus of intervention.
Supervision is fundamental to child and family social work practice, in England as elsewhere, yet there is little research regarding what managers and social workers do when they meet to discuss the families they are working with. Recent years have seen a growing interest in the use of simulated clients and objective structured clinical exams to help develop and evaluate the abilities of social workers and students. This paper describes a study of 30 simulated supervision sessions between English social work managers and an actor playing the role of a student social worker in need of support. The simulation concerns a referral regarding an incident of domestic abuse. During the simulations, managers typically asked closed questions to obtain more information before providing solutions for the supervisee in the form of advice and direction. There was little evidence of emotional support for the social worker, nor empathy with the family. Managers typically acted as expert problem-solvers. The implications of this are discussed in relation to current theoretical models of supervision for child and family social work and in relation to how children’s services responds to domestic abuse.
Caseworkers in welfare organisations play a pivotal part in the production of performance information (PI), since the information they record determines the quality of the PI. Previous studies have demonstrated how tasks that are considered illegitimate are stressful for the professionals performing them and are not performed properly. Caseworkers’ perception of the PI, which their recordings feed into, must therefore be of great importance with regard to how the caseworkers perform the task of recording. From a qualitative study of the production and use of PI in municipal disability services in Denmark, we gained insight into how caseworkers perceived the purposes of PI. We conclude that PI used in the planning of services to meet clients’ needs is recognised as a legitimate purpose. The distance between the manager and caseworkers seems to be important for the degree of understanding of the purpose of the tasks: The shorter the distance, the more understanding. Furthermore, caseworkers also see more subjective purposes of doing the recordings properly. Firstly, it makes management aware of the size of their workload. Secondly, the recordings serve as a documentation tool, which can be useful when clients file complaints.
This article describes the design process and main features of an instrument developed for use in the specialist area of intervention in care homes for older persons. The essential aim of ISD-1 (instrument for social diagnosis) is to permit the correct formulation of social diagnoses and to standardise and define the professional language used by social workers. Its content has been organised into 4 dimensions of social diagnosis, divided into 15 sub-dimensions containing 83 diagnostic categories. This work was performed in Spain, in the 24 care homes of the Madrid Social Care Agency of the Community of Madrid, involving the participation of the 40 social workers practising in these centres. ISD-1 is an easily understood and used tool, of potential use for social workers practising in care homes for older persons and capable of being adapted for use in other institutional environments, as well as being capable of adaptation and translation for its application in other countries.
This article addresses knowledge production on formal kinship foster care. In spite of growing interest in this phenomenon, little attention has been paid to how kinship care should be understood in research – as a service under child protective services or as upbringing by relatives. Each of these understandings leads to different research questions and creates guidelines for what falls into or outwith the focus of research. In kinship care research, this phenomenon has primarily been studied as a service. Research that seeks to evaluate the effect of kinship care compared to non-kinship care is used as a case to discuss the implications for the type of knowledge that researchers produce. While we acknowledge the importance of this research, we demonstrate the many challenges it involves and why this should not be the primary focus in kinship care research. On the background of these limitations, we argue in favour of approaching kinship care as upbringing by relatives – as ways in which family life can be organised and structured. This can lead to relevant knowledge that will enable us to obtain a better understanding of what kinship care is and involves.
Previous research has demonstrated that children who grow up in foster family care – along with other child welfare recipients – manage less well in adulthood compared to those children who do not. Given this challenge, this integrative literature review locates the critical factors that either positively or negatively affect a child’s development in foster family care. The articles were analysed using theory-driven content classification in relation to Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological framework on child development. The results of the review suggest that there is a wide range of factors that could impact on a child’s development in foster family care. Childrelated factors such as the child’s age, gender, behavioural or mental health problems, etc. were mentioned most often in the data. Microenvironmental factors are also essential to a child’s development. Linkages taking place between two or more of the child’s circumstances, such as the relationship between the child’s birth and foster families and between the foster family and the social worker, were also identified as being influential. Service usage and political and legislative factors, as well as attitudes towards children in care, were also indicated to be strongly influential. It is suggested that the factors identified in this review should be carefully considered as important aspects of care for fostered children and care documentation.
Supervision has been an integral aspect of social work practice since the early days of the profession. The literature suggests that ‘supervision is an essential and integral part of the training and continuing education required for the skillful development of professional social workers’ (p. 5). The literature does appear to support that all social workers ought to have some level of supervision; however, within interprofessional settings, where social work is one of many professions, that goal may not be easily attained. Although some interprofessional settings, like hospitals, have social work departments, other settings, like schools, may only have one social worker, resulting in a workplace environment devoid of social work supervision. This article presents findings from a national study of social workers employed in interprofessional organizations. It was hypothesized that this cohort could provide important insights about the nature of social work supervision in agencies characterized by an interdisciplinary workforce. Using both open-ended and specific categorical questions, respondents were asked to describe and convey information about the supervision process and experience in their agency. An Internet-based survey was used to reach a broad spectrum of social work practitioners and educators (975 deliverable and 426 completed) across the United States.
This article seeks to contribute to the ongoing debate within European social work on the role of social work educators in influencing social policy. It reports on a study that examined the role of social work educators in furthering social policy by comparing Israeli social work educators’ engagement in policy with faculty members in professional schools with strong ties to social policy, namely education and healthcare. While the findings show some similarities between the three groups of educators, they also underscore marked differences between educators in social work and the other professions. In particular, social work educators are more involved in, and more committed to, social policy engagement than faculty members of other professional schools are. These divergences are attributed to the greater focus upon policy practice in social work and its prevalence in teaching programmes, as well as to the profession’s focus on disenfranchised clients, who are especially impacted by social policies.
The purpose of this study is to increase knowledge about social workers’ opportunities to work with safer sex among at-risk adolescents and young adults. To investigate this issue, a survey has been sent to outreach work and non-institutional offices whose work focuses on alcohol and drugs to some extent. The survey was sent to 89 workplaces distributed throughout 33 municipalities in the region of Skåne in southern Sweden. Altogether 229 responses were collected, a response rate of 60.1%. The study shows that social workers have limited opportunities to work with safer sex issues and that the organizational resources to support this work are weak. Michael Lipsky’s theory of street-level bureaucrats was applied to the data, with the analysis indicating that knowledge and organizational resources are key to enabling work with safer sex. It is also important that the personnel are interested in the subject and that they feel comfortable working with safer sex. The factors found to have the strongest direct effect on the personnel’s work with safer sex are: having the possibility to set aside time to work with safer sex, experiencing that safer sex is discussed at the workplace and being personally interested in the subject.
Work-related mental distress and its impact on employees’ working life is a mounting issue among Finnish social workers. This article focuses on identifying the factors associated with child welfare social workers’ occupational well-being. The occupational well-being of Finnish child welfare social workers (N = 364) and social workers whose duties do not include child protection work (N = 524) was explored and compared with each other using t-test statistics and logistic regression analysis. The data, collected in 2014/2015, were obtained from an ongoing longitudinal cohort study on work-related well-being among Finnish public sector employees. A multi-dimensional and holistic approach to occupational well-being was used as the outline for the analysis and comparison of the two groups. Child protection social workers reported higher levels of burnout and secondary traumatic stress than social workers without child protection duties. Despite these burdens, both groups showed a similar level of general health, compassion satisfaction and overall occupational well-being. Individual and organizational factors associated with high occupational well-being were identified. Supervision was found to be an important supporting element. This study identified multiple determinants related to social workers’ occupational well-being, comprising positive and negative elements with regard to organizational and individual factors.
This article investigates how treatment factors are described by different client groups and by treatment staff. The material consists of interviews with clients (n = 81) and treatment staff (n = 18). The analysis focuses on two central themes – the importance of the treatment group and of the treatment staff, along with how these descriptions relate to the concept of the therapeutic alliance. The descriptions differ in parts between the client groups and between clients and staff. Clients as well as staff highlight structural and qualitative aspects of cohesion, but general patterns of how these are expressed in the groups are hard to grasp. However, some exceptions appear; while the clients often relate recognition to own experience of substance abuse, the staff often refer to external aspects of recognition, such as gender and/or experience of parenting. The results indicate that the social preconditions of the group members can influence group cohesion. In the treatment, focus is initially on cohesion and later on making change possible. This might create a dilemma; the homogeneity that initially creates cohesion can also act as a restraint on change. This is described in the results in relation to gender homogeneous client groups in treatment.
The importance of quantitative research in the social sciences generally and social work specifically has been highlighted in recent years, in both an international and a British context. Consensus opinion in the UK is that quantitative work is the ‘poor relation’ in social work research, leading to a number of initiatives. However, Sharland’s UK work involves interviews with academics, representing consensus opinion. We have little independent measures of their accuracy. This paper is the first to focus on the academic impact of quantitative research in social work developing measurable outcomes. It focuses on three leading British-based generic journals over a 10-year period, encapsulating 1490 original articles. Impact is measured through three indices: Google Scholar and Web of Science Citations, and downloads. These provide measures of ‘revealed preference’ in relation to individual scholars’ impact (though to use them for a particular methodology is novel), whose particular qualities, strengths and limitations are noted. Contrary to received opinion of quantitative work as the ‘poor relation’ of social work research, findings show that it is not significantly disadvantaged relative to qualitative work in its ‘reach’ as measured by citations and downloads. The implications of this, including caveats and nuances, are discussed.
The development of social work in different European countries in the nineteenth and early twentieth century followed sooner or later a rather similar path. Nevertheless, we find everywhere particular characteristics. Only if we compare certain economic standards, cultural habits, religious codes and the balance of public and private activities, the characteristics of welfare development in each country become visual. If we want to know something about our country, we have to look at others. Therefore, we have to compare social work and its history, because only then the question of similarities and differences cannot be avoided and become crucial elements of our studies.
Municipal youth protection work has become infused with digital technology, and yet there is still limited research on how to assess the impact of digital technology on municipal youth social work. This article reviews a range of misconceptions regarding the assessment of digital technology for youth social work in municipal contexts. This review was generated in connection with the development of an app system for communication between young clients and their municipal social workers in Denmark. The misconceptions relate to: variations in technologies and contexts; the impact of digital technologies on the relationship; social justice; differentiating between the user and the digital technology; digitalization and standardization; stakeholder and functional models of municipal social work. The paper concludes that the relationship between municipal social work and digital technology is complex and that thus complex comprehensions of municipal social work practice are needed if the relationship between technologies and practice is to be grasped adequately. The paper argues that given the complexity of the field and the speed of technological and legal changes, external support with regard to assessing how to use, develop and incorporate digital technology needs to be made available to municipalities and social workers.
The current study sought to examine the differences between retraining programme (RP) students in social work (SW) and mainstream programme (MP) students regarding career considerations, factors influencing the decision to study SW and professional preferences. RPs are similar to fast-track training programmes known in the UK, as they offer graduates from other disciplines a qualification in SW. This study was conducted among 125 SW students in Israel: 56 in the RP, where studying SW was their secondary choice (after graduating in a different academic discipline) and 69 MP students for whom SW was their first choice for a profession. Both groups were examined in their final year of studies. When choosing their profession, RP students attributed greater importance to considerations such as personal development, satisfaction and interest in treating people, while for MP students, working conditions were more important. In addition, RP students also preferred to engage in individual therapy and policy practice. Furthermore, there were several differences between the groups’ preferences regarding types of populations, services and sectors. Correlations were found between various preferences of populations, services and fieldwork training. Lastly, a higher percentage of RP students compared to MP students had expressed their intention to work as social workers once they complete their studies.
This article presents the initial results from empirical research targeting the life experience of healthy children living with their deaf parents in the period of their dependency. A healthy child of parents with hearing difficulties grows up naturally bilingual and this is what places the child into the position of a native interpreter for the parents. This special situation is primarily determined by the culture and language of people with hearing difficulties and by the information barriers which stand between the deaf people and their social milieu. The qualitative design with a semi-structured interview was chosen for the empirical research. The goal was to determine the personal experience of the respondents with the attributed social role of the native interpreters into sign language during their childhood. The empirical research resulted in some extremely interesting issues, for example, how an inappropriate form of burden which is placed on a child’s shoulders by the parents and formal institutions can be connected with the form of the parents’ education. This article also formulates issues of possible ways of supporting families with deaf parents and healthy children in the process of solving the problems named above.
This paper studies the association between collective welfare resources, levels of and inequalities in, material deprivation among ‘new’ as well as ‘old’ social risk groups four years into the global crisis. The data are based on the cross-sectional survey EU-SILC (European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions) 2012. The multilevel analysis includes 27 European countries and 294,803 individuals between 18 and 64 years of age. The results demonstrate that the risk of material deprivation decreased in absolute terms with increasing welfare generosity among all three risk groups studied: individuals facing limiting long-standing illness, the non-employed and the low educated. In some instances the modifying effect of welfare generosity was stronger among the advantaged group than among the disadvantaged groups. The low educated benefitted the most in terms of a substantially lower risk of material deprivation. Results also show that both the absolute inequalities and levels of material deprivation were consistently lower in generous welfare states. The findings support the view that directing undue weight on risks, risk assessment and risk management in the context of social work practices should not reduce the importance of collective welfare resources to alleviate welfare problems among disadvantaged groups.
Severe acquired brain injury (sABI) includes a variety of acute brain injuries, both with or without traumatic etiology, characterized by a state of coma of variable duration and by the presence of motor, sensory, cognitive and/or behavioral impairments. It refers to a set of conditions of different origins resulting in outcomes that are often disabling. In facing a new health condition that brings about profound changes, the person and their family suffer enormous stress not only from the drama of the illness and the uncertainty of the future, but also from financial and organizational difficulties. In the present essay, the focus is on issues related to people with sABI and their families. In particular, we address the methodology and the development phases of an action research carried out in the Marche Region of Italy. In this research, social workers supported sABI people and their families for six months from the date of discharge from hospital, in order to identify responses suitable for the complexity of their needs. We will also present the outcomes of the interventions, identifying a support path, which stimulates social workers to reconsider some of the ways in which they work.
This article is concerned with the relation between classical texts within social work and the interpretation of these classics in contemporary literature. It aims to explore how classical texts influence and work in our perception of, and writing about, our history, but also how they influence our perception of social work today. A study is made of Mary Richmond’s classic text Social diagnosis [1917. Social diagnosis. New York, NY: The Russell Sage Foundation] and later interpretations of her text in secondary literature. Through this analysis, a grand narrative within the effective history of social work: social work as a ‘borrowing field’ is questioned. Using translation theory as an alternative to the borrowing metaphor, I analyze the transference of ideas and concepts from other disciplines into social work and how these processes have been perceived. The dynamic processes of translation places social work within an interdisciplinary field, where ideas and concepts are continually exchanged between disciplines. It is the thesis of this article that research into authorities within the discipline and early contributions to the development of social work strengthen the discipline’s insight into past and current theoretical contributions within the discipline itself and the knowledge base of social work.
The intention of this article is to discuss conditions for developing participatory relationships with children in child welfare services (CWS). In recent years, child protection and CWS have seen a growth of interest in children’s participation, but research shows that children often do not participate when their families are in contact with the CWS. Participatory practice tends to be more messy and complicated than the policy rhetoric suggests. Discussion about the reasons for lack of children’s participation has mostly been related to the social worker’s competence or willingness to involve children in participatory practice. In our research, we have found that social workers are interested in involving children in participation, but that they often meet with organisational structures and material design of offices that represent barriers to children’s participation, for example, to children’s access to information and help, and to the development of relationships with children over time. In this article, we will discuss how organisational structures and routines, and material design, present challenges for implementing participatory practices in child welfare, and what will create appropriate conditions for children’s participation.
One of the core dimensions of social work practice, identified since its establishment as a professional endeavour, is concerned with political action. Nonetheless, policy practice, which entails that social workers should connect their work with individuals, as in traditional casework, to wider political action, is often perceived as marginal in everyday practice. This paper connects views on social work policy practices to the context provided by the ways social policies are actually constructed in Italy. A research study on governance processes across Italy, addressing the main actors involved in social policy-making, reveals that in fact practitioners’ political action is differently represented within different frameworks, ranging from being seen as a near impossibility, to being perceived as a crucial factor in the policy-making processes. If context and cultures play such a relevant role, synergistic work at different levels and by all the different actors in the social work community is required if we want social workers to be able to express their potential fully in the political arena.
This paper revisits core family support messages for social work practice in working with children and families, linking to findings from high-profile child protection cases in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Drawing on a comparative study where these identified practice messages were explored through the lens of testimony of family support workers in the UK and Ireland, these core messages are examined. Operating with hard-to-engage children and parents, we hear how families and family support worker colleagues now view the core functions of child and family work across both jurisdictions (Ireland and England). The authors argue that by naming a more detailed set of practices that are deemed as most useful by families, based on the benefits and challenges of intensive family support work, key messages arise that have major resonance for social work and multiagency practice into the future. A basic message from this study is that valuable lessons on engagement and intervention with families can be drawn for professionals by examining the practice elements of this group of paraprofessionals in the child and family arena. This paper adds to debates on the role of support and intervention in social work and family support work.
This article draws on a study of awareness and sensitivity towards discrimination and oppression in contemporary practice in the Bulgarian social system through the perspectives of helping professionals and social clients. To that end, empirical data were gathered through a study of: the knowledge and awareness about anti-discrimination policy and legislation in the social sphere; awareness and perceptions of discrimination and oppression in society and the social work domain; and reflections on discrimination and oppression in the context of working relationships. Two questionnaires were designed and used to collect data in the period of April–May 2014 in the Southwestern region of Bulgaria. There were two groups consisting of 132 helping professionals (n = 132) and 121 clients/service users (n = 121). Both groups had low awareness of anti-discrimination legislation and regulations in the field of social policy and services. Discrimination and oppression were perceived as widespread phenomena that affected life of disadvantaged groups and also manifested in the social system. Ethnic minority service users needed information about their rights and community resources and claimed for larger involvement in the process of social work.
A growing number of cases of professional errors in the realm of health and social services appear on media and raise significant public debate. This article focuses on mistakes in social work and looks at how their negative impacts might be reduced through the lens and framework of reflective practice. Using conclusions from the most relevant literature on this topic and some of the outcomes of recent research, the author describes errors in social work in terms of causes (e.g. lack of time and training, etc.) and results (e.g. damaged relationship with users, failure of action plans, burnout, etc.). Learning occurs when social workers conduct an in-depth reflection, alone or together with colleagues. Since human beings will always err, paradoxically reflection on mistakes (with the consequent drop in the harm produced) and not the reduction of their number is the most powerful factor to improve the quality of health and social services. The culture of blame and punishment is one of the main obstacles to an effective social work animated by the genuine culture of responsibility and ethically driven by the overriding interest of service users.
Child trafficking is a violation of multiple human rights and a child protection challenge in South Africa and worldwide. Thus, assistance provision can be a protective factor in the emotional and the psychosocial well-being of trafficked child victims. Stakeholders (including social workers) working in the field of trafficking were studied qualitatively to understand the nexus between child trafficking and service provision. The challenges the participants had encountered within assistance provision were explored through in-depth interviews and analysed using thematic analysis. The findings from the study indicate that assistance provision is not an easy linear process and that multinational, multi-agency, long-term sustained response, with multi-focus on prevention, prosecution and protection (including rehabilitation) is required to enhance successful resettlement and adaptation. This response should be based on the rights of the child rather than based on law enforcement and immigration.
In over 65 years of conflict that followed the creation of Israel and the subsequent occupation of Palestinian land, the official international organizations representing the profession of social work have been in a state of avoidance with regards to dealing with crucial questions about social work under occupation. Until, last year hardly any relevant statement could be traced in the archives of the International Federation of Social Workers and the International Association of Social Workers referring to this issue. This article attempts to provide an initial exploration of the views and every-day professional lives of children and family social workers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The authors investigate and reflect on the challenges and opportunities Palestinian social workers face while working in the context of military conflict. There is a particular focus on the impact of the occupation of Palestinian lands and the experiences of trauma affecting children who seek the support of social services.
Data provided are for informational purposes only. Although carefully collected, accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Publisher conditions are provided by RoMEO. Differing provisions from the publisher's actual policy or licence agreement may be applicable.