Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Lance Peterson


Social Work


Professionals providing mental health services experience various challenges that may put their potential to provide best practice and quality services at risk. The primary research question for this study is: How does a social worker derive satisfaction from their work within the mental health system? This study used a qualitative research design and was conducted through the completion of 8 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with mental health social workers. Several themes emerged from the research: Personal Satisfaction, Realistic Expectations, The Little Things, Self-Responsibility, Influence vs. Control, Sense of Support, The Value of Empathy, and Compassion and Self-Compassion. Through review of the literature in addition to these findings, it was determined that while social workers are insightful into why they enjoy the work they do, they acknowledge the various challenges that can act as barriers to their satisfaction. Assisting them in combating implications of these challenges is their ability to set realistic expectations both of themselves and their clients. What social workers struggle with, however, is the ability to effectively care for themselves either though self-care or by using the concept of self-compassion. Social workers can improve their knowledge and awareness of these topics, ultimately improving their satisfaction, which will also improve the way in which they provide services to clients.

Included in

Social Work Commons