Resilience and Personal Effectiveness for Social Workers

Books

Jim Greer

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
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  • Copyright

    Acknowledgements

    To my wife Liz: Who has accompanied me on my whole social work journey and had a key role in starting it. Thank you!

    About the Author

    Jim Greer left a career in local government auditing to become a volunteer on Community Service Volunteer’s Independent Living Scheme, an invaluable experience which gave him insight into the lived experience of service users and the reality of being a full time carer. Since qualifying Jim worked initially as a generic social worker, before specialising in adult mental health and subsequently being promoted to Team Manager. More recently Jim worked as a Project Manager for a Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership, responsible for a number of projects which applied new technologies in social care. Jim has also taught psychology, social care and social work for a number of years, sometimes in parallel with other roles. He is currently Principal Lecturer in Social Work, Teesside University. He is a member of the British Psychological Society and promotes the value of psychological and scientific approaches in social work education. He also utilises his experience in finance and service improvement in the teaching of organisational issues. He combines his academic duties with other roles including social work course endorsement and being a standing member of a committee of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

    Preface

    During the period in which this was being written there has been an increasing focus on the importance of resilience in social work and other professions in health and social care, including workshops at conferences and online seminars. This is partly as a result of the high staff turnover rates in these professions and partly as a result of the growing awareness of the additional stresses which cuts have placed on public services and those who work in them.

    The ambition of this book is to provide guidance to social workers not only in dealing with the impact of stressors in the workplace but also in managing the sources of stress. The book has a highly practical focus and, to get the most from it, readers should set aside time to do the reflective exercises contained in each chapter. No amount of reading or resolve is going to help change how we cope with work unless it is backed up by action. Unproductive and unhelpful work habits are hard to break and new approaches can only become established behaviours with conscious repetition and perseverance. I would recommend keeping a journal to record progress which you make in achieving change in your relationship with work and your ability to cope with it.

    The book is structured in a way which will enable workers to evaluate their own relationship with work before looking at how they can develop practical strategies to make their work more productive and less stressful.

    The first three chapters of the book are all about the direct physical and psychological impact of stressors. The first chapter begins with a guide to identifying the signs of stress and burnout and the consequences for one’s health and wellbeing. The second chapter moves on to define resilience and why it is important for social workers and the third chapter considers how social workers can achieve a satisfactory work/life balance. The emphasis in all three chapters is on the reader exploring for themselves what constitutes resilience and an ideal work/life balance. Wellbeing has different meanings for different people and work has a different role and a different degree of importance in each person’s life. For these reasons each reader has top find their own answers about how they achieve balance and harmony in their lives. The interactive approach of the chapters is designed to help each reader to explore these issues and come up with answers and strategies which meet their objectives and are achievable for them.

    Chapters 4 and 5 move the focus away from wellbeing and towards personal effectiveness. Readers will be helped to make better use of time and make maximum use of the capabilities of new technology. Effective use of time can reduce the likelihood of having to take work home and free up time for meaningful interaction with service users and other elements of the job which social workers find satisfying.

    Chapters 6, 7 and 8 explore the interpersonal aspects of effective and fulfilling social work practice. Chapter 6 highlights the fact that managers and co-workers can sometimes be sources of stress. Social workers normally enter the profession with a positive view about the integrity and values of their colleagues. However, bullying, discrimination and conflict occur in social work just as they do in other professions and this chapter considers how workers can deal with interpersonal problems in the workplace. Chapter 7 considers how good quality reflective supervision is essential to social work and looks at the roles of social workers and their supervisors in maximising the benefits of supervision. Chapter 8 explores the relationship between managers and their staff and how to be a good leader and a good follower. The chapter also looks at the role of effective management and good leadership in creating a healthy and productive workplace where staff feel valued and supported.

    The final chapter sets out how social workers can manage their career over the long term to ensure that it meets their goals while achieving positive outcomes for the people they work with.

    The book is informed by psychological ideas ancient and modern. There is a growing rediscovery and appreciation of the Buddhist mindfulness by modern psychologists and therapists. There is also a reappraisal of ancient philosophical traditions such as stoicism by modern management writers. Parallel to this, concepts such as lean management, which comes from the automotive industry are being successfully applied to human services. This book applies ideas from a range of traditions in therapy, psychology, philosophy and management in a way which is compatible with the values of social work and the realities of modern social work practice.

    I hope you find this book readable, informative and helpful and value your feedback.

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