The Social workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece: From Secondary Traumatic Stress to Vicarious Posttraumatic Growth
1Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Approaches for the Enhancement of Quality of Life, Hellenic Mediterranean University, Greece; 2University of West Attica, Greece
Background/ Aims: Although social workers are at great risk for suffering secondary traumatic stress symptoms (STS) as a result of the indirect exposure to their patients’ traumatic experiences, relevant studies on the psychological consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are still scarce. Accumulated evidence has emphasized mostly the negative psychological impacts, whereas any positive ones have been largely neglected. Vicarious posttraumatic growth (VPTG), which includes greater sense of personal strength, warmer relationships with others, greater appreciation of life, openness to new experiences and spiritual development could be a potential positive result of vicarious traumatization. This presentation aims to (a) examine VPTG among 78 social workersduring the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic in Greece, (b) the factors that facilitate VPTG, such as STS, and coping strategies.
Results and Conclusions: Social workers in Greece demonstrated moderate to low levels of STS and VPTG during the first lockdown in Greece. STS intrusions and both adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies predicted VPTG. Understanding the factors that promote VPTG is important to guide the development of interventions which protect social workers from the deleterious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and support them in their process of growth. Caring for the care professionals is of paramount importance principally for themselves and also for their traumatized patients and the quality of care they provide. The results of this study could inform professionals on how to best prepare themselves for trauma work in uncertain times and could have implications regarding how health care organizations can best support their employees and facilitate VPTG in the workplace.
The added value of the capability approach when working with distressed groups
Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands, The
In this presentation, the capability approach (CA) is presented as a useful action- and evaluative- framework for social workers who work with distressed groups, such as refugees. Amartya Sen (1985) developed the capability approach (CA) as a means of evaluating people's well-being. The core of this integral approach is that it not only looks at what an individual does or achieves, but also at that outcome in relation to what people want to achieve, whether they are capable of doing so and whether they are enabled to do so. It therefore potentially helps social workers, in consultation with clients, to increase possibilities and autonomy. It also focusses on if people are able to access resources and support and if they are able to use this for their benefit. The CA is consequently useful to evaluate whether interventions add value to well-being and are really benefitting people in vulnerable situations.
The CA is in line with the core values of social work. People differ in their opinion or understanding of what quality of life or well-being means and these different interpretations and possibilities are what the CA is all about. Respect for diversity is an important value within social work. Empowerment, or supporting autonomy, is central to the CA and a core value of social work. The CA is used in and between different disciplines, such as care or poverty issues. What these different studies and resulting interventions have in common, is the centralization of people's ability to live the life they value.
In this presentation, I will explain the usefulness of the CA for social work and social work education. Based on the stories of refugees, we have made a number of case studies that we use in education to show the application of the CA to students. These case studies not only illustrate the application of the CA, but also contribute to knowledge and skills of (future) social workers to support asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.
COVID-19 pandemic in Greece: Research findings and recommendations for posttraumatic growth interventions by social workers
1Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Approaches for the Enhancement of Quality of Life, Hellenic Mediterranean University, Greece.; 2University of West Attica, Greece.
Background/Aims: COVID-19 outbreak is an uncontrollable disease that has affected people worldwide. Cumulative evidence suggests that the pandemic and the resultant lockdown have detrimental effects on mental health. However, the psychological consequences can be both negative and positive. Posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD with symptoms of intrusions, avoidance and hyperarousal is a result of the negative mental health effects of COVID-19 whereas posttraumatic growth or PTG with changes in self-perception, relationships, and one’s philosophy of life is a potential positive outcome. This presentation aims to (a) examine PTG among Greek community residents, its association with PTSD, and whether coping strategies facilitate PTG, during the first COVID-19 lockdown in Greece, and (b) provide recommendations about how social workers can foster PTG in the general population with traumatic experiences.
Results and Conclusions: Our results indicated that COVID-19 can be an extremely traumatic experience for the general population. People demonstrated high levels of PTSD and moderate to low levels of PTG. PTSD intrusions, adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies were predictors of PTG. Research findings could direct timely and tailored-based interventions and strategies by the social workers and other social care professionals aiming at helping people who struggle with the COVID-19 outbreak. Special emphasis will be given to those interventions and strategies that have the potential to motivate traumatized people to use intrusive thinking as a means to re-examine the meaning of the COVID-19 threat and to those coping strategies that are useful responses to stress and can reduce PTSD symptoms and improve their well-being.
New values and challenges. Social work education during the Covid-19 pandemic - Polish practice
The Maria Grzegorzewska University, Poland
The possibility of studying social work (SW) as a separate field of study was introduced in Poland In 2005. So far, it has been a part of the didactic offer of sociology or pedagogy. This change significantly increased its rank, although SW is still not recognized as a scientific discipline - according to the Polish law (Act on Social Assistance from 2004) SW is still defined as a professional activity. In many universities, SW has been considered as a practical study profile. This means that many teaching hours (e.g. at The Maria Grzegorzewska Universty there are 800 during 3 years of study) are internships in selected centers / institutions related to social assistance. That fact gives a chance for students to prepare them for an important and necessary profession, including for working with various categories of clients, in accordance with the values that they recognize.
The existing way of SW education was disrupted by the covid19 pandemic. It turned out that the existing teaching methods had to be verified. This situation provokes some questions, such as:
- How to effectively teach SW in the new reality?
- How to effectively achieve the assumed educational results?
- How to implement practical items during lockdown?
- How to teach students to respect the values, dignity and individuality of clients in a situation where contact with the practice is limited / impossible?
The poster will present the results of research carried out in October and November 2020 among 100 students of social work from three different universities (100 questionnaires and 12 individual in-depth interviews). The aim of the study was to recognize the differences in SW education before and during the pandemic. In particular, the issues of challenges facing further education of social work and recommendations for the future will be discussed. It is assumed that the covid19 pandemic will not end in the next semester (February 2020). Lecturers' opinions appearing already in Poland suggests to continue some of the classes/ courses online even after the pandemic.The future will showu us if we prepare good specialists in social work this way.
Resilience strategies among social work students
University of Presov, Slovak Republic
This paper presents research with the main aim to compare resilience in the group of social work students: before and after Covid-19 pandemic. In the sample of 30 students were data recollected in post-test after more than one year of different activities (social-psychological training, consulting, resilience and mindfulness enhancing techniques), using Brief COPE questionnaire (Carver 1997); The Connor - Davidson Resilience Scale (2003) and The Resilience Scale for Adults (Hjemal, Friborg, Martinussenová, Rosenvinge;2006) Data were analysed in SPSS.
The quantitative part of this research was complemented by individual interviews aimed at confirming and analysing resilience strategies and the preferred resilience factors by students while copping pandemic consequences.
The research findings have important implications for future education and curriculum improvements, including resilience enhancing techniques as a tool of stress reduction among students and also burnout syndrome prevention in future social workers.
Social media’s role during COVID pandemic: co-creating community-based solutions for vulnerable groups
1Tallinn University, School of Governance, Law and Society, Estonia; 2Development Centre of Võru County, Estonia; 3Tallinn University, Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School, Estonia; 4Manimal Design and Digital Media Studio, Estonia
Social Media as an accelerator for co-creating solutions for vulnerable groups in COVID-19 context was explored. The FB posts before, during and after the first wave of COVID-19 in Estonia were investigated. The Couldry (2012) model was utilized to analyze the co-creational initiatives in FB from the perspectives of power, affordances, practices and discourses. Findings suggest that social media could be successfully utilized as a tool for sharing call to actions, activating citizens for co-creation of solutions, for supporting the participation of all groups in society. The key factors are informed and conscious utilization of social media tools, building trust and sustainability. The reflections captured the unequal positions perceived in prosocial collaboration in the context of crisis. However social media is the powerful enabler and accelerator for activating and channeling the community resources to support vulnerable groups in the society.
Using critical discourse analysis to research (in-)visibilities of power and race in the internationalisation strategies of Bachelor programmes of social work in Germany
Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Higher education is embedded in postcolonial structures of power (Grosfoguel 2013; Stein et
al. 2020) and the internationalisation of higher education can lead to a continuation of
Eurocentric knowledge production and the reinforcement of western science systems (Dornick
2020: 29). Within the research on international higher education these aspects are just seldom
taken into account (George Mwangi et al. 2018).
In my talk I will present the methodology discourse analysis (Jäger/Jäger 2007; Fairclough
2018) as an approach to make invisible categories visible. My goal is to investigate how the
discourse in internationalisation strategy documents re-produce power and privileges by
enabling and disabling visibility, and by this reinforcing hegemonic structures in the higher
education system. I will apply the theoretical concepts of ‘the west and the rest’ (Hall 2018),
othering (Said 1978; Spivak 1985) and epistemic power (Bennett 2015; Brunner 2020) in the
critical discourse analysis in order to show, how these are used in order to make people and
knowledge in a powerful way (in)visible and by this (re-)produce social inequalities.
International dimensions are crucial to social work (education), due to the effects of
globalisation on people and society. At the same time internationalisation of social work
education risks to make indigenous knowledge and practices invisible, due to the
universalisation of dominant concepts and research from ‘western countries’ (Rasell et al.
2019). The discipline social work contains critical approaches towards questions of social
inequality, power and (racial) construction of difference (Kessl/Plößer 2010). How does this
disciplinary background affect the internationalisation strategies within social work education?
How does social work education locate itself within the postcolonial and neoliberal discourses
of the internationalisation of higher education, which often leads to the (re-)production of
With my presentation I offer insights in the methodological and theoretical perspectives of my
ongoing PhD project in educational sciences.
Mediation competences of family assistants – new role or necessity?
The Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw
Contemporary changes in all areas of social life caused by the Covid-19 pandemic define innovative roles for people who support them families in crisis. The group of these specialists includes family assistants, who very often become involved in conflicts of people with whom they provide help and support on a daily basis. Hence, there is a need to teach them with mediation competences that will facilitate their work and increase its effectiveness. It is primarily about improving the process of mutual communication, problem solving and regaining the ability to function satisfactorily in the social environment.
Mediation competences can be defined as “the subjective disposition of an individual enabling him to consciously, due to the needs and effects, resolve conflict situations using the principles of the mediation process and to be responsible for the behaviors manifested. Competences consist of a set of experiences, features, skills and knowledge that contributes to the effective use of mediation in the process of supporting the investigation of the parties to a conflict to a satisfactory agreement. Mediation competences are necessary for the effective performance of an intermediary's work, and in the personal context, to improve his/her psychosocial functioning (A. Lewicka-Zelent, 2012).
The aim of the research is to determine the mediation competences of family assistants. For this purpose, the Mediation Competences Questionnaire (KKM) by A. Lewicka-Zelent was used, which allows to determine in a subjective way the intensity of skills and features that make up mediation competences. Family assistants from all over Poland associated in the Polish Association of Family Assistants will take part in the research. Mediation competences will also be analyzed in terms of sociodemographic variables of the surveyed family assistants, i.e. age, seniority, place of residence and education.