Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Please note that all times are shown in the time zone of the conference. The current conference time is: 27th Jan 2022, 04:51:59am EET

Session Overview
Paper Presentation Session 13: Ethics and Professional Social Work
Thursday, 17/June/2021:
12:30pm - 2:00pm

Location: Parallel Session 1

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How do future social workers perceive the cause of social problems?

Peter Nelson1, Mick Grant1, Melanie Werner2, Stephanie Vogt2, Holger Spieckermann2, Eva Grigori3, Lotte Andersen4, Merete Monrad5, Maria Carmen Perez Belda6

1Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom; 2Technische Hochschule Köln, Germany; 3Fachhochschule St. Pölten, Austria; 4Københavns Professionshøjskole UCC, Denmark; 5Aalborg University, Denmark; 6University of Alicante, Spain

The study reported was motivated by a rising concern for the effects of neoliberalism, globalization and populism. As lecturers of European schools of social work in five different countries (UK, Austria, Germany, Spain and Denmark), we sought to examine how these trends are translated into the attitudes of social work students. We wished to examine students' attitudes towards deservingness in order to understand how future social workers will use the discretion in their work. The aim of the collaboration is to examine the way students resist or incorporate neoliberalism and populism in their worldview and whether the view of deservingness is converging or diverging across students at European Schools of Social Work. In the last 30 years, there has arguably been a fundamental change in welfare systems all over Europe - the care paradigm being replaced by neo liberalism. Social services are not universal; they are intertwined and connected to individual behaviour as well as to criteria of belonging or not belonging. Students of social work grow up in these systems, and it is possible to surmise they will be influenced by these changes – but the question is how. The aim was to find out what impact the neoliberal paradigm and the increase of right wing movements has had on students perception towards service users, how attitudes differ between countries, and what results could be considered as representative for Europe. We undertook an empirical study by developing a questionnaire based on the deservingness literature. The questionnaire was developed in English following which participants from each country translated the questionnaire into their own language. The questionnaire was then completed by respective cohorts of students in the early stages of their professional training. Data from each country was combined and analyzed. Initial findings are presented alongside considerations for social work education in the current European context. The research was s supported by the EASSW grant programme for small projects.

Social workers’ empathy in time of uncertainty: Can empathy be taught?



The concept of empathy is common to many health professionals. Social work professionals, have to develop empathetic skills in order to approach and sensitize their clients, especially those in crisis and vulnerable groups. Social workers who demonstrate empathetic attention in social and economic inequalities are more eligible to influence effectively social and economic justice and general wellbeing. Practitioners’ ability to empathize with others is related to internal and external factors.

Social workers who are aware of their feelings and needs are more eligible to show empathy to their clients. Regular supervision is also necessary for all social workers in order to be able to process their own feelings and to deal with empathy. Empathy can be taught, increased and refined, helping social workers become more skillful and resilient. Creative and art based methods that enable students’ learning through interactive and enjoyable way might have a key role in empathy’s education.

This study presents the results of a research, focused on social workers, who work usually in times of uncertainty, throughout social and financial crisis, with vulnerable and isolated people, in different regions of the island of Crete, Greece. The ways in which social workers perceive and apply concepts of empathy in their clinical practice were examined, using quantitative research methods (King and Holosko’s ‘empathy scale’). The study results highlighted the potential impact of educational programmes on social workers’ empathy as well as the development of self – awareness and emotional regulation via reflective practice.

Exploring Study abroad as a model for developing competencies for International Social Work

Verena Rösner, Chaitali Das

Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Germany

It is well recognised that International exposure to worlds and contexts within the social work program can be a very enriching educational experience for student social workers. They provide a particular impetus for self-reflection through critical incidents as well as to understand and contextualise the different occupational spaces of social work around the world (Das & Anand, 2014; Hunter, 2008; Man Lam, Wong & Tse Fong Leung, 2007; Abram & Cruce, 2007). Thus, internationalisation helps to recognise local social work as well as bring together the different approaches under shared global values of dignity and human rights. However, integrating international experiences within study programs require preparation and pedagogical considerations such that the learning experience is a positive and developmental one and not one that reiterates problematic power relationships (Wehbi, 2009; Razack, 2009; Sherraden et al., 2008).

The paper considers study abroad and international placements in terms of the learning outcomes reported from students as part of an International Bachelor degree in Social Work at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. Student exposure to international contexts can support students to develop a variety of knowledge, values and skills, such as knowledge about diversity ad different social work frameworks, insight into self, empathy, openness, ability to engage with others and reflexivity, which are central to anti-oppressive practice. Like international placements/visits, study abroad presents an opportunity to enable students to learn to develop essential knowledge, values and skills to be able to work with diverse clients. The international exchange serves to promote social cohesion in an international context as the interaction and shared experience of the students create cohesion among each other and enable social work students to learn together and from one another. Findings outlined the ways in which students reported learning about different kinds and ways of doing social work but also developed values of open-mindedness and a deeper insight into themselves and their privileges. Finally, by way of skills, students can learn how to navigate being different in a different context in organisational terms but also in terms of working in intercultural teams and engaging with difference constructively.

Everything of value is vulnerable

agnes marie verbruggen

university college Ghent, Belgium

In search of integrity : guardianship of the good work.

Based on the theory of communicative rationality of J. Habermas, I developed a framework that helps to explicit and deliberate upon the ethical dimension of professionals working with people and in public domains.

The framework combines insights of sociological, legal, ethical theories ans practice wisdom.

This framework stimulates and gives space to the "ethical awareness", the" soul of the craft" and gives capability to bond and bridge in a vulnerable process of sharing and operationalising the values of the job that go beyond profit and competition.

It helps to go beyond practical solutions , further than the search of doing work well done, it helps in finding what is the good work here? Good work is never found once for always, but always for once. This means that strenghtening the search of the answer is more powerfull than giving answers.

Investigating the dual roles of Social Work Educator & Informal Carer for ageing parents in the fourth age

Alison McInnes

Northumbria University, United Kingdom

This session will revisit a paper and from an autoethnographic/critical reflective biographical approach re-examine seven cultural notions or myths, which may encourage ageism. The Covid 19 pandemic has particularly impacted upon those in the fourth age and innovative ways of working need to be adopted. This is framed within my experiential knowledge of caring for my ageing parents, with the tensions and challenges around problematising the value of expertise based on experience, communication, grief and autonomy and freedom versus safety, which I experienced. The session will emphasise that by analysing the impact of our personal life experiences, we can start to understand both the intended and unintended consequences of policy and practice affecting those in the fourth age. As a social work educator, I want to reflect upon how my tacit experiential knowledge, if made explicit, can impact upon my own and others’ learning and lead to innovative social work practices. The recent death of my father has allowed for a period of reflection on my own caring and indeed my professional social work experience, knowledge, skills and practice. It is argued that the ageing process is unequal as class and socio-economic factors, i.e. geography, age, gender, religion and ethnicity, all play parts in determining how someone ages, and indeed upon the care an individual older person receives. A fuller understanding of negotiating the roles of one stakeholder, that of family carer and social work educator, in the ageing process, will be elicited in the session.

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