Who are you? The Power of Self in Newly Qualified Social Worker Practice

Today we have the second blog post from our NQSW, Daniel! Have a read to find out his thoughts on the importance of self as a Newly Qualified Social Worker.

Maclean (2016) argues consideration of self is a vital aspect of critically reflective practice. I am developing my sense of self as a mindful, reflective, and self-aware practitioner. I have reflected how I identify with the concept of the ‘wounded healer’ in my journey into social work education and post-qualifying practice (Brown et al, 2016:76). As a former user of secondary mental health services and practitioner with lived experiences of mental health problems, I bring several positive insights into my professional role. For example, experiential learning as a service user myself and the genuine rapport these experiences developed. Furthermore, as a man in social work I am in the minority. Several authors (Brown et al, 2016:83; Turner, 2016:18-19) acknowledge this gender imbalance, placing an emphasis on how men can make a positive and valid contribution encouraging the celebration of positive male identities in our profession.

Moreover, I am a practitioner with dyspraxia and Irlen Syndrome. Dyspraxia is a recognised disability and ‘a form of developmental co-ordination disorder, a life-long condition affecting the organisation of movement, perception and thought’ (Dyspraxia Foundation, 2016). Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual processing disorder which effects the brain’s ability to process visual information (Irlen, 2015).   My professional identity and sense of self consists of one that contains multiple differences and strengths.

            These differences bring with them several challenges and opportunities. There is the challenge of reasonable adjustments as outlined in section 20 duty to make adjustments of the Equality Act 2010. I have experience of the intrusion of assessment alongside the relief of appropriate and helpful intervention. I have been deemed eligible for several adjustments to be made to my work environment such as provision of a job coach, specialised computer speech-to-text software, a smart pen and coloured overlays. The opportunities this sense of self offers is abundant such as awareness raising of specific learning difficulties within social work, building on the work of charitable organisations (Dyspraxia Foundation, 2016). There are opportunities to feel more supported, comfortable, and competent in the workplace. These challenges make me seek opportunities to use my creativity and resilience to influence the workplace making a difference for myself and others (Adams and Sheard, 2013:54; Howe and Caldwell-McGee, 2016:93).

In her model of reflection, Maclean (2016) encourages consideration of goals in practice. My goals for this practice were to achieve the reasonable adjustments to my workplace which I am entitled to and eligible for. I acknowledge that others’ goals, specifically my assessor and line manager, aimed to facilitate and support me achieving these. Consequentially, this could lead to more efficacious support of and practice with the people I serve.

            Finally, the use of self in newly qualified social work practice is powerful. I believe if we combine the appropriate use of legislation with critical reflection, resilience, and self-awareness we can develop into confident and competent practitioners. I feel more help is needed for male practitioners in social work to do the work and continue to build gendered alliances with people in practice.

Daniel Wilding, Community Mental Health Practitioner/Social Worker, December 2016

References

Adams, J. and Sheard, A. (2013) Positive Social Work: The Essential Toolkit for NQSWs. Northwich: Critical Publishing.

Brown, P., Cook, M., Higgins, C., Matthews, D., Wilding, D. and Whiteford, A. (2016) ‘Men in social work education: building a gendered alliance’, in Bellinger, A. and Ford, D. (eds.) Practice placement in social work: Innovative approaches for effective teaching and learning. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 71-87.

Dyspraxia Foundation (2016) Join the Foundation. Available at:  http://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/what-we-do/join-foundation/ (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Equality Act 2010, c. 15. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/20 (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Howe, K. and Caldwell-McGee, P. (2016) ‘Managing the personal: from surviving to thriving in social work’, in Keen, S. Parker, J., Brown, K. and Galpin, D. (eds.) Newly- Qualified Social Workers: A Practice Guide to the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment. 3rd edn. London and Califomia: Learning Matters/Sage, pp. 85-107.

Irlen (2015) What is Irlen Syndrome? Available at: http://irlen.com/what-is-irlen-syndrome/ (Accessed: 11 November 2016).

Maclean, S. (2016) ‘Whatever the weather’, Professional Social Work (March), pp. 28-29.

Turner, A. (2016) ‘The Great Divide’, Professional Social Work (July/August), pp. 18-19.

If this post interests you and makes you wonder about the thoughts of NQSWs, why not look a bit further? Starting Social Work: Reflections of a Newly Qualified Social Worker by Rebecca Novell offers a fantastic insight into the thoughts and feelings of NQSWs. More details about the books can be found on the Critical Publishing website.

If you have any questions, you can reach me at keisha@criticalpublishing.com – as always, we would love to hear from you!

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