Date of Paper

5-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Felicia Sy

Abstract

In today’s society social work professionals are often overwhelmed as they try to juggle the responsibilities of life, from managing their home and advocating for their community, to meeting the demanding needs of work. For many the reality of burnout is all too familiar. Burnout is often characterized by emotional exhaustion, cynicism and a lack of personal accomplishment. For health care social workers who struggle in juggling the act of life, their experience is additionally impacted by the health care system as their expectations and responsibilities feel unmanageable. Some professionals in the field of health care social work have responded to the stressors that can lead to burnout through practicing meditation. The purpose of this research was to explore the essence of the experience of health care social workers who have practiced meditation. Based on phenomenological design, nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with licensed social workers who work in the health care field to gain a better understanding of their experience of practicing meditation. The findings indicated that social workers who graduated in the last ten years often had more opportunities to learn about meditation in their social work education. Also one’s professional environment often had an influence on their level of support for practicing meditation personally and professionally. Though social workers described ways that meditation enhanced their lives, all of the participants of this study expressed that their practice could be improved. Overall practicing meditation not only brings social workers joy and wellbeing, but strengthens their practice as a social worker, allowing them to be more present with clients and have better work-life balance.

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