Date of Paper

4-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Kendra Garrett

Abstract

Social workers face many challenges and hardships throughout their careers. This study examines the numerous stressors that social work professionals come in contact with on a daily basis, and explores the protective factors that provide these professionals with their drive to persevere in the face of these stressors. Data was obtained through semi-structured qualitative interviews with four professional social workers with a minimum of 15 years of experience in the social work field. Methods such as committee analysis, thematic clustering, and peer reviews were all utilized to analyze data for this study. The interviews highlighted key themes such as: career satisfaction, stressors, protective factors, the journey to a career in social work, and why social workers choose to remain in the social work field. Findings indicated that factors such as lack of resources, the “do more with less” mentality, balancing self-care and client needs, lack of co-worker support, poor management, and being a witness to the pain of others, all contribute to higher levels of social worker stress. Findings also indicated a number of protective factors that social workers report help to reduce the impacts of stress in their careers such as self-care, work diversity, worker autonomy, work with clients and problem solving, job security, and alternative work fantasies.

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