Social workers experience work under significant amounts of stress and are often left with bad memories of their more difficult cases, new research suggests.
Ruth Neil, a lecturer in social work at the University of the West of Scotland, examined the experiences of 12 front line social workers working in children’s protection at one local authority in Scotland.
According to her report, published in The Guardian, all 12 said the job had had had a negative affect their personal lives. Problems cited included disturbed sleep and problems with relationships. Many had to respond to emergency situations outside their contracted hours and traumatic experiences had left many with bad memories which lasted years. Common experiences cited included babies with unexplained injuries, children who had experienced severe neglect and threats and abuse by parents.
Many of the social workers, however, expressed a sense of empathy with affected parents, tolerating aggression because they understood the parents’ anger at losing their children and refusing to press charges.
The social workers also expressed a strong sense of commitment and dedication to their roles, and said they felt a strong sense of satisfaction when difficult family situations were resolved. One reported being told by a child: “We don’t need you anymore – my Mum’s not drinking now”.
Photo by Chris Guy via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence