South African social workers at risk : exploring pathways to their resilience
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Social workers worldwide play a pivotal role in delivering social services to those in need of such services. Designated social workers (DSWs) deliver statutory services pertaining to the protection of children in need of care and protection. All social workers are confronted by several professional risk factors that jeopardise their well-being; yet risks specifically observed in DSWs support the plea to enhance their resilience. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological inquiry was to explore pathways of resilience among resilient South African DSWs by studying relevant literature and examining South African DSWs’ lived experiences. A secondary purpose was to draw on these experiences and literature to develop guidelines for South African DSW supervisors who may encourage the promotion of DSW resilience. Conducting a qualitative research synthesis was the first step and resulted in the confirmation of social worker risk and a deficient understanding of South African DSW resilience. An advisory panel of social work, DSW, and resilience experts assembled and formulated indicators of resilience in resilient South African DSWs, namely: a value-embedded life, having a support network, and having personal strengths, which, next, facilitated the identification of 15 resilient South African DSWs through snowball sampling. These 15 DSWs wrote narratives and were interviewed through semi-structured interviews in order to explore their lived experiences of workplace risks and their resilience processes. The findings concluded that these DSWs adapted to workplace adversities by living a purpose- and practice-informing creed, enjoying supportive collaborations, engaging in constructive transactions, and accentuating the positive. Guidelines for South African DSW supervisors, which emerged from these findings and literature, were proposed to be framed by reflective supervision as a step towards promoting South African DSW resilience.
- Humanities