Emotional Resilience in the Helping Professions and how it can be Enhanced

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DOI: 10.11120/hsce.2014.00040
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Abstract
The need for social workers to be resilient is widely emphasised. Although enhancing resilience in social work trainees presents a challenge to educators, they are nonetheless responsible for developing professionals who are able to cope with the emotional demands of the job. This paper argues that building resilience in the future workforce should be a key element of social work education. However, as little is known about the competencies and support structures that underpin resilience or the extent to which resilience protects the wellbeing of trainees, an evidence-based approach is required to inform curriculum development. Recent research conducted by the authors of this paper has highlighted the protective nature of resilience in social work trainees. Emotional intelligence and associated competencies, such as reflective ability, aspects of empathy and social confidence, were found to be key predictors of this important quality. The important role played by social support from various sources was also emphasised. The present paper summarises this research, and presents interventions based on the findings that have the potential to promote resilience and wellbeing in social work trainees. Also considered are ways in which the curriculum might be further enhanced to provide trainees with an internal 'tool-box' of strategies that will help them manage their wellbeing more effectively in their future career.
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    ... It is crucial that graduates, employers and HEIs work together to promote and sustain employability measures. Collaborative and Students value the feedback they receive to reflect on and to enhance their self-appraisal skills which enables them to better develop critical analysis, problem solving, communication skills and emotional resilience (Stewart et al., 2016;Grant & Kinman, 2014). It is important to support and facilitate graduating students in developing their competences in information, communication and technology (ICT) to cope with complex and challenging situations and to sustain their employability (Craig & Piśkur 2012). ...
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  • ... Resilience can be enhanced by a number of practices and support measures. The development of emotional literacy, effective supervision and peer coaching are some measures that have been shown to facilitate resilient practitioners (Grant and Kinman, 2014). Decision latitude appears to be a key element in job satisfaction, resilience and preventing burnout. ...
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    Purpose Staff who work with vulnerable people with multiple needs are known to experience high levels of stress and burnout, as well as high levels of job satisfaction. This paper aims to explore the experiences of staff working in a project with individuals experiencing long-term homelessness in Lincolnshire. Design/methodology/approach An evaluation of a project working with individuals experiencing long-term homelessness included a focus group set up to explore the experiences and well-being of front line staff and managers. One-to-one interviews with staff were also held to provide more in-depth data about the experiences of individual staff members. Findings Six key themes were identified from the discussions with participants. Decision latitude and the ability to follow service users on person-centred journeys over long periods were positive aspects of the work which were highly valued and seemed to contribute to high levels of job satisfaction. Things which also made a positive contribution were elements of support provided by the employer and a number of personal coping strategies. Themes identified which had a negative impact on well-being related to high workloads and to the multiple and competing demands from service users and other agencies. Originality/value Few studies of any kind have explored the experiences and well-being of staff working in the frontline of homelessness services. This small-scale qualitative study provides a number of suggestions for further research with this population. Findings cannot be generalised but match those of other recent studies which suggest high levels of stress but little evidence of burnout, and that carefully developed workplace support mechanisms play a key role in maintaining commitment to the role and preventing burnout.
  • ... Similarly, resilience has also been reported for its protective effects on mental health. Though its definition is still being debated, it is commonly noted as a comprehensive construct embracing internal resources and behaviours, which enable people to cope with challenging life circumstances, and strengthen themselves from such experiences (Grant and Kinman 2014). Resilience directs people's attention to positives (i.e. ...
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