‘Doing it right?’: accessing the narratives of identity of newly qualified social workers through the lens of resilience: ‘I am, I have, I can’

Sarah Lindsay Kearns, Karen Ann McArdle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Using narrative enquiry, this paper accesses the construct of identity through exploring resilience in newly qualified social workers based in statutory children's services. In seeking to avoid deficit-based models of this role, this paper aims to present inductively the ‘voice’ of three social workers in a semi-rural authority, storying the positive ways in which resilience has developed during their first year. Using the Grotberg resilience framework (1995) –‘I am, I have, I can’– as an analytical tool at the interface of personal, professional and organizational identities, we conclude that ‘I am’ and ‘I have’ are more important than the skills dimension of ‘I can’. Positive role models, trust, ‘managed’ optimism, flexibility of support in and beyond induction, and, crucially, self-efficacy and space for reflexivity, are more prominent as sources of resilience and strong identity. The reflexivity, inspired by the process of narrative enquiry, is an important contributor to self-efficacy. We propose that a positive view of growth and identity is preferable to deficit models in the context of the transition between the two ‘communities of practice’ and of the challenges of the workplace. Organizational approaches based on this view will be more likely to promote a sustainable workforce.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-394
Number of pages10
JournalChild & Family Social Work
Volume17
Issue number4
Early online date1 Aug 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

Keywords

  • child care/statutory agencies work
  • education/training/supervision
  • identity and representation
  • resilience

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