Review from the British Association of Social Workers (BASW)
THE CLUE is in the title: should social work practice, especially at the outset of a career, be all about “survival”? Well the authors of this helpful book must think so if the title is anything to go by but the book goes beyond this and goes into, in some detail, the transition from student to practitioner.
Having been a social worker who entered the profession in the 1970s, this would have been a very helpful articulation of the process involved in the absence of any easing into practice at that time. But times have changed, thankfully for the better, and we now better understand what fledgling social workers need in order to become functioning professionals.
So does the book do what it sets out to do? Well, yes it does. And credit must go to the authors in attempting to put together a tome which gives both students and supervisors the approaches required to make a successful introduction to becoming a professional social worker in adult and mental health services.
Furthermore, the book takes the aspiring social worker from their early years as being newly qualified to developing a professional identity and then the need for continued professional development. In other words, a fully rounded approach to understanding the role and tasks involved in joining the social work profession.
It is set out in a series of parts: Finding Your Feet, Finding Your Way and Finding The Way Forward. In each part, there are detailed sections which take the reader through the process of development both as an individual and as the organisation responsible for that individual.
The book also stresses that there is an understanding that all newly qualified social workers are entitled to being treated as per the Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) framework.
While this has been developed in each of the nations to support development, it points out that its application may vary from country to country and employer to employer, and it is important that students are pro active in ensuring that they are treated according to this framework.
In other words, take responsibility for your own development! There is also a very useful section on managing stress which recognises the inevitability of having to deal with it and how to develop coping mechanisms and resilience.
The chapters also have a series of exercises which are optional ways to test you against what either you are learning through reading the book or the experience gained in employment.
The sections ‘are readable and relevant and can be dipped into or read from cover to cover. My suspicion is that it is more likely to be dipped into than read. There are good references for further study and a description of the NQSW frameworks across the UK.
One small quibble is that having addressed the UK issue framework-wise, the section on legislation does not mention the specific legislation that exists in Scotland in relation to children, adult protection, incapacity and mental health. All in all, this is an important contribution to the world of newly qualified social work and makes for essential reading. I note that there is a companion guide for those entering the field of children and families. It’s a pity that something similar was not around in the 1970s.