Developing career resilience
Developing career resilience

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Developing career resilience

5.1 How employers can help

The demands on trainee social workers are recognised to be tough, and you will explore this in the following activity.

Activity 8 How employers can help

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch the following video in which social work recruiter, Pash Selopal, who you met in Week 3, describes how Frontline, his employer, supports trainee social workers to develop resilience.

Download this video clip.Video player: Developing resilience
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Transcript: Developing resilience

PASH SELOPAL
It's important to note that no one's the finished product. As part of the two-year programme, whilst it's still important for that individual to have their own coping mechanisms and personal support network in place that will help them, as social work's a challenging, emotionally and mentally tough job, so you'll need that personal network, yourself, it's important to note that you'll be working in a local authority with other frontline participants. So you will have that professional support network around you of like-minded individuals that would have started the same time as you.
These individuals, along with your consultant social worker, you will be working quite closely with, in regards to talking about your cases on a weekly or fortnightly basis and discussing hypotheses, discussing proposed solutions, and identifying risks and strengths. And, with that, you are able to also reflect on their observations. And they may help you uncover any of your unconscious biases you may have or perhaps act as a devil's advocate, in terms of challenging some of the hypotheses you've completed. So, having that support network, professional support network, to bounce ideas off is something that's crucial.
End transcript: Developing resilience
Developing resilience
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Which measures does Frontline use to help trainee social workers develop resilience and use a range of creative approaches in their work?

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As the job is challenging, Pash describes the importance of hiring mentally tough candidates who are already resilient, with their own coping mechanisms and a personal network. The programme places groups of participants in the same location to help build a professional network and they receive weekly supervision as a group with a more experienced social worker, where they discuss cases, problems, potential solutions and risks, and challenge working assumptions.

These strategies build on research by Louise Grant and Gail Kinman (2013) at the University of Bedfordshire. Their work looked at factors that enhance resilience in the helping professions. These include:

  • Supervision: In many helping professions, regular supervision is key. This gives a safe environment where individuals can think about their work, discuss issues with which they struggle and discuss their emotional reactions.
  • Mentoring and peer coaching: Conversations with others who face the same challenges make a difference. Feeling part of a peer group, developing social connections, gaining positive role models and coaching through successful tactics support emotional resilience.
  • Mindfulness and relaxation: Mindfulness incorporates meditation, yoga and relaxation training. Mindfulness has been associated with increased compassion for self and emotional resilience, so much so that it is being introduced in some UK primary schools.
  • Discussion of case studies: Case studies and role plays can open up discussion on problems, decision-making and difficult emotions in a safe environment.
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