Working in complexity: ethics and boundaries in community work and mental health

Shevellar, Lynda and Barringham, Neil (2015) Working in complexity: ethics and boundaries in community work and mental health. Australian Social Work, 69 2: 181-193. doi:10.1080/0312407X.2015.1071861

Author Shevellar, Lynda
Barringham, Neil
Title Working in complexity: ethics and boundaries in community work and mental health
Journal name Australian Social Work   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0312-407X
Publication date 2015-09-12
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/0312407X.2015.1071861
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 69
Issue 2
Start page 181
End page 193
Total pages 14
Place of publication Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
While codes of ethical conduct are important, they do not always fit neatly in the organic community settings in which some workers engage. Professional standards from accrediting bodies are easy to sign up to, yet much more difficult to put into practice. Drawing upon community connection practice in recovery-oriented mental health work, this article names the professional boundary tensions peculiar to less structured fields of engagement. We suggest that for workers in these fields, there has been a disconnection between the theory, the experience, and the public discourse of professional boundaries. We argue that such disconnection can create uncertainty, anxiety, and secrecy, creating exactly those cultures we wish to avoid. Ultimately this leads to greater harm for vulnerable individuals, as well as the workers and organisations that serve them. The alternative is to engage in what we name a “risky conversation,” to expose this disconnect and engender a new type of professionalism.
Keyword Professional boundaries
Community work
Community inclusion
Mental health - Australia
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
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Created: Tue, 15 Sep 2015, 11:16:41 EST by Dr Lynda Shevellar on behalf of School of Social Science