The Integration of Personal and Professional Selves: Developing Students’ Critical Awareness in Social Work Practice

Jay M. Marlowe, Cherie Appleton, Shirley-Ann Chinnery & Sutibra Van Stratum

School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work
University of Auckland

How social work students incorporate personal and professional selves in the contexts of field education represents a cornerstone of effective and sustainable practice.

This paper presents a qualitative component of a study that tracked 15 third-year Bachelor of Social Work students across their first field placement to document their use of self, critical reflections and experiential learning. The project examined students’ assessed ‘use of self’ assignments to understand their capacity for and development of critical awareness across this placement. Students were most articulate in being able to identify stressful situations that arose from placement in terms of what they were thinking (mind) and feeling (emotion) and to a much lesser extent to what they were sensing (body). Over time, students demonstrated a growing critical awareness to better identify and respond to their self-reported tensions. The findings provide developmental insights into how students integrate personal and professional selves and potentially shift from reflective and reflexive practices to incorporating praxis in their work. Through considering the linkages between self and practice, this paper explores student experiences whilst on placement and the associated developmental tasks of critical awareness.

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Marlowe, J. M., Appleton, C., Chinnery, S.-A., & Van Stratum, S. (2014). The integration of personal and professional selves: Developing students’ critical awareness in social work practice. Social Work Education, 1-14. doi:10.1080/02615479.2014.949230

Corresponding author: Jay Marlowe


About socialworknz

I'm a social work researcher in Aotearoa New Zealand
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