‘Moral Distress’ and the beginning practitioner: preparing social work students for ethical and moral challenges in contemporary contexts

Lynch, Deborah and Forde, Catherine (2016) ‘Moral Distress’ and the beginning practitioner: preparing social work students for ethical and moral challenges in contemporary contexts. Ethics and Social Welfare, 10 2: 94-107. doi:10.1080/17496535.2016.1155634


Author Lynch, Deborah
Forde, Catherine
Title ‘Moral Distress’ and the beginning practitioner: preparing social work students for ethical and moral challenges in contemporary contexts
Journal name Ethics and Social Welfare   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1749-6535
1749-6543
Publication date 2016-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/17496535.2016.1155634
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 10
Issue 2
Start page 94
End page 107
Total pages 14
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2017
Formatted abstract
Translating the social justice ideals of social work into practice can pose significant challenges for new social work graduates in contemporary contexts that are characterised by rationalism, individualism and control. This paper contributes to the debate on the place of activism in social work education by addressing the question of how social work education prepares students to manage ‘moral distress’ [Weinberg, M. 2009. “Moral Distress: A Missing but Relevant Concept for Ethics in Social Work.” Canadian Social Work Review 26 (2): 139–151; Fine, M., and E. Teram. 2013. “Overt and Covert Ways of Responding to Moral Injustices in Social Work Practice: Heroes and Mild-Mannered Social Work Bipeds.” British Journal of Social Work 43. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcs056 ] and respond to social injustices that they may encounter in their work with individuals, families and communities. Drawing on our experiences as social work educators at an Australian and an Irish university, we examine how beginning practitioners negotiate the challenges, risks and moral dilemmas of social change practices across different organisational and policy contexts. We discuss three reoccurring themes as important for students as emerging practitioners: recognising risks, acknowledging moral ‘dissonance’ in a critically reflexive manner and understanding that all social work takes place in a policy context and therefore engaging with policy is a fundamental element of practice. Our analysis concludes that ideas and expositions of activism based on nuanced, flexible and opportunistic social change practices offer significant but realistic possibilities for engaged social work practice.
Keyword Moral distress
Activism
Social work education
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work Publications
 
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Created: Thu, 24 Mar 2016, 09:58:58 EST by Debby Lynch on behalf of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work