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Enhancing Wellbeing in Social Work Students: Building Resilience in the Next Generation

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The need for social workers to be resilient is widely emphasised. Although enhancing resilience in social work trainees presents a challenge to educators, they are nonetheless responsible for developing professionals who are able to cope with the emotional demands of the job. This paper argues that building resilience in the future workforce should be a key element of social work education. However, as little is known about the competencies and support structures that underpin resilience or the extent to which resilience protects the wellbeing of trainees, an evidence-based approach is required to inform curriculum development.

Recent research conducted by the authors of this paper has highlighted the protective nature of resilience in social work trainees. Emotional intelligence and associated competencies, such as reflective ability, aspects of empathy and social confidence, were found to be key predictors of this important quality. The important role played by social support from various sources was also emphasised. The present paper summarises this research, and presents interventions based on the findings that have the potential to promote resilience and wellbeing in social work trainees. Also considered are ways in which the curriculum might be further enhanced to provide trainees with an internal ‘tool-box’ of strategies that will help them manage their wellbeing more effectively in their future career.
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Keywords: Emotional Intelligence Social Workers; Empathy; Reflection; Resilience; Stress

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Bedfordshire, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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