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Trauma: A unifying concept for social workThe aim is to show how traumatic stress provides a unifying concept for social work. In the last ten years, there have been significant changes in the nature of organisations that provide social care for people in the UK, with social work practice no longer confined to traditional local authority services. Increasingly, social workers are taking up posts in a variety of settings and sectors demanding new knowledge and skills. The field of traumatic stress is not currently viewed as a social work discipline. However, trauma cuts across a range of contexts and client groups and, as such, needs to be a core component of education and training in social work. The concept of trauma and recent developments in post-traumatic growth offer a new way of thinking that necessitates the development of genuinely psycho-social and relationship-based help and support for individuals, families, groups, communities and organisations affected by adversity.
What do service users want from mental health social work? A best-worst scaling analysisDespite being a profession dedicated to the empowerment of service users, empirical study of mental health social work appears dominated by the perspectives of social workers themselves. What service users value is less often reported. This study, authored by a mix of academics and service users/carers, reports a Best–Worst Scaling analysis of ten social worker ‘qualities’, representing both those highly specialist to social work and those generic to other mental health professionals. Fieldwork was undertaken during 2018 with 144 working-age service users, living at home, in five regions of England. Of specialist social work qualities, service users rated ‘[the social worker] thinks about my whole life, not just my illness’ particularly highly, indicating that person-centred approaches drawing on the social model of mental health are crucial to defining social work. However, service users did not value help accessing other community resources, particularly those who had spent the longest time within mental health services. Continuity of care was the most highly valued of all, although this is arguably a system-level feature of support. The research can assist the profession to promote the added value of their work, focusing on their expertise in person-centred care and the social model of mental health.