Examining Self-Care Among Individuals Employed in Social Work Capacities
Implications for the Profession
Increasingly, the social work profession recognizes the need for more attention to self-care. Concomitantly, this growing awareness and ethical commitment is fostering a burgeoning self-care movement. However, despite recognition about the importance of self-care, there is a paucity of research that explicitly examines self-care practices among social workers. This cross-sectional study examined the self-care practices of individuals employed in social work capacities (n=1,011) in one southeastern state in the United States. Findings suggest that participants in the sample engaged in personal and professional self-care practices only moderately. Further, data suggest significant group differences in the practice of self-care, by relationship status, educational attainment, health status, and current financial situation, respectively. Overall, results indicate self-care as a potential area of improvement for participants in this study, in general, and perhaps for individuals employed in social work contexts, more generally.
Adams, R. E., Boscarino, J. A., & Figley, J. A. (2006). Compassion fatigue and psychological distress among social workers: A validation study. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76(1), 103-108. doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/0002-9418.104.22.168
Asuero, A. M., Queralto, J. M., Pujol-Ribera, E., Berenguera, A., Rodriguez-Blano, T., & Epstein, R. M. (2014). Effectiveness of a mindfulness education program in primary health care professionals: A pragmatic controlled trial. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 34(1), 4-12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/chp.21211
Bloomquist, K. R., Wood, L., Friedmeyer-Trainor, & Kim, H. (2015). Self-care and professional quality of life: Predictive factors among MSW practitioners. Advances in Social Work, 16(2), 292-311. doi: https://doi.org/10.18060/18760
Bush, A. D. (2015). Simple self-care for therapists: Restorative practices to weave through your work day. NY: Norton.
Cohen, M., & Gagin, R. (2005). Can skill-development training alleviate burnout in hospital social workers? Social Work in Health Care, 40(4), 83-97. doi: https://doi.org/10.1300/J010v40n04_05
Council on Social Work Education. (2015). 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. Retrieved from https://www.cswe.org/getattachment/Accreditation/Accreditation-Process/2015-EPAS/2015EPAS_Web_FINAL.pdf.aspx
Cox, K., & Steiner, S. (2013). Self-care in social work: A guide for practitioners, supervisors, and administrators. Washington, DC: NASW Press.
Dorociak, K., Rupert, P., Bryant, F., & Zahniser, E. (2017). Development of the Professional Self-Care Scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64(3), 325-334. doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000206
Dunkley, J., & Whelan, T. (2006). Vicarious traumatization: Current status and future directions. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 34(1), 107-116. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/03069880500483166
Greville, L. (2015). Self-care solutions: Facing the challenge of asking for help. Social Work Today, 15(3), 14-15.
Grise-Owens, E., Miller, J., & Eaves, M. (Eds.). (2016). Self-care handbook,
A – Z. Harrisburg, PA: White Hat Communications.
Grise-Owens, E., Miller, J., Escobar-Ratliff, L., George, N. (2017). Teaching self-care/wellness as a professional practice skill: A curricular case example. Journal of Social Work Education, 54(1), 180-186. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2017.1308778
International Federation of Social Workers. (2004). Statement of ethical principles. Retrieved from http://ifsw.org/policies/statement-of-ethical-principles/
Jackson, K. (2014). Social worker self-care—The overlooked core competency. Social Work Today, 14(3), 14. Retrieved from http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/051214p14.shtml
Kanter, B., & Sherman, A. (2017). The happy, healthy nonprofit: Strategies for impact without burnout. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Lee, J. J., Bride, B. E, & Miller, S. E. (2016, January). Development and initial validation of the Self-Care Practices Scale (SCPS). Poster presented at the Society for Social Work Research 19th Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.
Lee, J. J., & Miller, S. E. (2013). A self-care framework for social workers: Building a strong foundation for practice. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 94(2), 96-103. doi: https://doi.org/10.1606/1044-3894.4289
Maclean, S. (2011). The social work pocket guide to…stress and burnout. Whitby, Canada: DeSitter Publications.
Maslach, C. (2005). Understanding burnout: Work and family issues. In D. F. Halperin & S. E. Murphy (Eds), From work-family balance to work-family interaction: Changing the metaphor (pp. 99-114). Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 674-697. doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.129.5.674
Miller, J., Grise-Owens, E., Addison, D., Marshall, M., Trabue, D., & Escobar-Ratliff, E. (2016). Planning an organizational wellness initiative at a multi-state social service agency. Evaluation and Planning: The International Journal, 15, 1–10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2016.02.001
Miller, J., Lianekhammy, J., Pope, N., Lee, J., & Grise-Owens, E. (2017). Self-care among healthcare social workers: An exploratory study. Social Work in Health Care, 56(10), 865-883. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00981389.2017.1371100.
National Association of Social Workers. (2008). National Association of Social Workers membership workforce study: Overview of survey participants. Washington, DC: Author.
Newell, J. M., & MacNeil, G. A. (2010). Professional burnout, vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion fatigue: A review of theoretical terms, risk factors, and preventative methods or clinicians and researchers. Best Practices in Mental Health, 6(2), 58-68.
Norris, C. M. (1979). Self-care. American Journal of Nursing, 79(3), 486-489.
Pope, N., Giger, J., Lee, J., & Ely, G. (2017). Predicting personal self-care in informal caregivers. Social Work in Health Care, 56(9), 822-839. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/00981389.2017.1344755
Rath, T., & Harter, J. (2010). Well-being—The five essential elements. NY: Gallup Press.
Salloum, A., Kondrat, A., Johnco, C., Olson, K. (2015). The role of self-care on compassion satisfaction, burnout and secondary trauma among child welfare workers. Children and Youth Services Review, 49, 54-61. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.12.023
Smullens, S. (2015). Burnout and self-care in social work: A guidebook for students and those in mental health and related professions. Washington, DC: NASW Press.
Valentine, L. R. (1970). Self-care through group learning. American Journal of Nursing, 70(10), 21-40.
Weinberg, M. (2014). The ideological dilemma of subordination of self versus self-care: Identity construction of the ‘ethical social worker’. Discourse & Society, 25(1), 84-99. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926513508855
Whitaker, T., Weismiller, T., & Clark, E. (2006). Assuring the sufficiency of a frontline workforce: A national study of licensed social workers: Executive summary. Washington, DC: NASW.
World Health Organization. (1983). Health education in self-care: Possibilities and limitations (Report of a Scientific Consultation). Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/70092/HED_84.1.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Copyright to works published in Advances in Social Work is retained by the author(s).