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Work–Life Balance: Practitioner Well-Being in the Social Work Education Curriculum

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Drawing on the debates of ‘work–life balance’ (WLB), subjective well-being (SWB) and life satisfaction (LS), this article seeks to reflect on the issue of social work practitioner well-being in the social work education curriculum. The authors argue that, to enable the elusive ‘work–life balance’ for social work practitioners, we need conversations about the life domains that define balance for each individual. Discussions about life satisfaction or dissatisfaction in social work education can be a crucial starting point for ongoing assessment of aspects of balance for the individual as part of the future workforce. We propose that awareness of, and dialogue about, core domains of life satisfaction during training will also eventually enable more effective management of stress and burnout and quality of service delivery in practice, as well as provide a framework for professional development and career progression of practitioners.

We adopt a three-fold discussion: first, we explore the meaning of work–life balance and sketch the implications thereof within social work; second, we trace the relationship between work–life balance, subjective well-being and life satisfaction; and finally, we outline issues for social work education and suggest practices that can enhance practitioner well-being in the longer term and promote safe habits within social work education.
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Keywords: Life Satisfaction; Practitioner Well-Being; Social Work Curriculum; Subjective Well-Being; Work–Life Balance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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