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, 04:15:33am EET

Session Overview
Paper Presentation Session 3: Crisis and Resilience
Wednesday, 16/June/2021:
11:45am - 1:15pm

Session Chair: Sorina Daniela Dumitrache
Location: Parallel Session 3

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Strengthening the resilience of social workers

Monika Punová, Pavel Navrátil, Jitka Navrátilová

Masaryk University, Faculty of Social Studies, Czech Republic

In the early days of building social work, the focus was on the client and the client’s needs, with the social worker helping them deal with difficult situations in life. As the discipline has gradually established itself, more attention is also paid to the worker. This change of perspective is accompanied by questions such as: “Who is mindful of the needs and well-being of the social worker?" and “How can the social worker deal with the demands of their profession?” This shift in perception reflects the fact that the social worker is now seen as a human being and a key instrument of assistance; like their clients, the worker also pursues goals (whether personal, professional or social), has needs, perceives and experiences situations uniquely and lives in a social context that affects them and influences their actions.

Social work is a very challenging profession with high demands on the resilience of the workers. The perspective of resilience represents developmental processes, thanks to which the workers are able to cope with the difficulties of their profession and achieve the desired level of well-being, even though they may have experienced a difficult situation in connection with their performance. This conrefence paper answers the question: “How to strengthen the resilience of social workers?” It will include a presentation of research on the resilience of social workers in the Czech Republic. The research examined the relationship between personality and resilience of social workers in the realization of their profession. The issue of personality dispositions is considered in terms of the so-called five-factor model of personality (the “Big Five”). We have found that each type has a potentially positive and negative impact on the resilience of the performance of the profession. Finally, the research implications for the practice of social workers are presented. We emphasize the strengthening of practitioners' resilience through the development of self-knowledge of their own personality, the cultivation of their personal growth, the development of knowledge about post-traumatic growth and the ability to focus on the development of resilience strategies.

How to acknowledge and address the evolving ecological cum climate crises? Reflections from social work teaching and research

Satu Ranta-Tyrkkö

University of Jyväskylä, Finland

The climate crisis, with the current 1.2 degrees global warming since pre-industrial times and the immense challenges to keep the warming within 1.5 or even in 2.0 degrees, shakes the foundations of social work education and practice together with other ecological, social and economic crises. While the fear is that in the worst case, combined these crises may destroy much of the achievements, as well of preconditions, of social work, for the time being social work practice and education remain largely stuck to the national order of things and issues of the day. Social work ethics discussion, for example, focuses predominantly on moral dilemmas in worker client relations in a given time and place, whereas responsibilities towards future generations, or towards people at risk due to a train of events aggravated by the climate crisis or ecological degradation, are not necessarily seen as social work concerns (although their repercussions may). Troubled by this, my paper asks how to (re)think social work’s commitment to protect the poor and the vulnerable at the current historical moment particularly in view of the climate cum ecological crisis. In my paper, I draw insights both from the interdisciplinary future and global ethics discussion, as well as from my more than two decades long experience as a social work educator and researcher interested in the social-ecological and local-global continuums and interfaces in social work. My central conclusion is that in order to enable social work to broaden its horizon, there is an urgent need to develop social work future/ intergenerational and global ethics, which is currently oddly non-existent.

Resilience in Social Work Field Education

Monika Punová

Masaryk University, Faculty of Social Studies, Czech Republic

This conference paper focuses on supporting resilience in the field education of social work students. The resiliency concept focuses on finding new ways and new adaptation mechanisms despite challenging conditions. The term "resilience" in field education is a concept that includes dynamic relationship-development processes through which the student can adapt and thus achieve well-being, despite having a difficult life situation in connection with their field practice. We speak about the importance of resilience-building in those settings where interactions between subjects and their environments imply the risk of adversity or where adversity occurs. The conference paper will aim to answer the question: "How to strengthen the resilience of students of social work in field education?" To answer this question, a theoretical analysis is used, specifically the results of international empirical studies that deal with the application of the resilience concept to the education of social work students. The author introduces the principles of the curriculum of practical education of social work students.

The professional identity of students cannot fully form only through reflection on literature and attendance of lectures and seminars but needs confrontation with the pitfalls of practice, where the student steps out of the safe space of theoretical teaching and experiences the everyday reality of social workers. For some students, navigating this difficult reality is a touchstone of their professional identity, which needs to go through this strenuous test in order to be able to rest on the realistic ground. If this shaking of the foundation of professional identity through field education and supervision is not sufficiently reflected in educational curricula, it can affect the student's personal life and, in extreme cases, lead to the student even choosing a different career. The resilience enhancement should be part of social work education.

The author is the main protagonist of the use of resilience in social work in the Czech Republic. She draws on her many years of experience as a supervisor and coordinator of students' fieldwork at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic.

Social Work teaching existential risk and catastrophe psychology in the era beyond sustainability

Pieter Lievens

Karel de Grote University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Antwerp, Belgium

Studies on climate, biodiversity, resource depletion, water scarcity, forced migration and global inequality point towards severe challenges for wellbeing of the global society and even more for future generations. Acting in synergy, those global challenges have the potential to disrupt societies in a very fundamental way and cause an existential risk to humanity. Teaching this to young students questions their current ‘manage and control’ and ‘progress’-oriented worldview. Facts on global challenges and the expectations of radical transformations of local and international development under anticipated ecological circumstances have a disruptive effect on their mental wellbeing. The confrontation with an eco-centered worldview (mostly dominated by regression) causes cognitive dissonance. This phenomenon is a barrier to learning and to the contribution of their social work practice in adapting under rapid anthropogenic environmental change. How can social work contribute to address the moral and psychological challenges inherent to these times of deep uncertainty and social upheaval as global society moves towards an era beyond sustainability? How to teach ecosocial work that includes existential risk and ecosystemic disservices? What can we learn from the responses to the Covid-19 pandemic (as being one of those disservices) in regard to the future of development and in regard to the preparedness of Social Work Education (SWE) for disaster, upheaval and catastrophic (climate) events? What methodologies can be used to overcome the psychological barriers to exept risks, invite students to take an ecosocial perspective and learning beyond a progress oriented worldview?

Agents of social change - policy practice and political participation of social work students and professionals in Switzerland

Tobias Kindler

Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland

Social work and policymaking are closely interrelated. The pioneers of the profession were convinced that social problems were not a consequence of individual mistakes or personal negligence but rather resulted from insufficient social conditions. As such, they advocated for social change and the adoption of better policies for the people they worked with (Cummins, Byers and Pedrick, 2011, pp. 26–31; Pritzker and Lane, 2018, pp. 10–16). Today this type of intervention on the policy level has become a key dimension of social work practice and social work education, supported by the international definition of social work (IFSW, 2014) as well as by various national Codes of Ethics (AvenirSocial, 2010; BASW, 2014; NASW, 2017) and academic publications all around the globe (Benz and Rieger, 2015; Gal and Weiss-Gal, 2013; Haynes and Mickelson, 2000; Jansson, 2018).

While contemporary professional associations, social work practitioners and scholars agree that the profession should engage in policy-related activities, there is still a dearth of empirical data on the actual policy involvement of social work students and social workers. It remains unclear as to what extent, and in what forms, social work students and practitioners are involved in policy processes and what factors influence this kind of engagement (Weiss-Gal and Gal, 2020).

This contribution suggests reporting findings from the first quantitative study on social work students' and social workers' policy engagement in Switzerland (Kindler, 2019). With its federal structure and pronounced decision-making competence on the local level, this country offers interesting insights for research in this specific field. The empirical data of the study was collected by means of an online survey in which 1815 social work students and professionals from all the Swiss cantons participated. The results showed a rather low level of political participation, but in comparison with the Swiss population, it can be classified as average. Hypothesis testing procedures revealed six main factors influencing political engagement of social work students and social workers: (1) political interest, (2) number of memberships in mobilization networks, (3) internal political efficacy, (4) support of political social work, (5) strength of party preference and (6) strength of political ideology.

Building resilience/preparedness for practice of social work students through an experiential art-based group

Sorina Daniela Dumitrache, Florin Lazăr

University Of Bucharest, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, Romania

The field of social work implies working with the most vulnerable populations (e.g. victims of different types of abuse and neglect, poverty, exposure to traumatization and pain, marginalization etc.), which can generate a lot of pressure and emotional distress on the specialists who assist those in suffering in pain (e.g. countertransference, compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatization) and can affect the specialist's quality of their professional interventions. Therefore, managing their own emotions, feelings, thoughts and behaviors connected to the diversity of the beneficiaries' problems is an important skill for future social workers.

Through this presentation, we aimed to describe an art-therapy personal and professional development course and its impact on the third year social work undergraduate students in their preparation process to activate in the social work field after graduation.

The students participated in a 12 meetings art-based experiential course. Each meeting had a specific theme and objective and different experiential techniques have been used: meditative guidance with art-therapeutic support; drawing, psychodrama and drama-therapy, cinema-therapy, movement and dance-therapy, therapeutic cards, collage technique, creating/working with puppets; self-reflection personal diary.

Our results showed that participating in the self-reflection art-therapy based program creates a space of positive dynamics and cohesion, emotional containment, empathy, reciprocal trust, allows personal growth, generates meaningful insights, as well as a deeper understanding of their life, their potential and future possibilities along with professional maturation. The participants shown an increased ability to manage personal reactions towards external realities and stimuli.

Through this paper and the program we developed we wanted to emphasize the need for an increased interest in such ways of supporting social work students' abilities for a good practice with appropriate and healthy intervention for their future beneficiaries and with fewer negative effects for their own wellbeing.

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