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Impact of Emotional Resilience on Working with Service Users

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 3649 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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Analysis of Practice





This paper aims to investigate the impact of Emotional resilience and how this can affect working with service users and the impact of communication and values with the service user and her family with supporting legislation and theories. In addition to this, the paper will refer where applicable, the new revised Professional Capabilities Framework domains outlined by BASW (2018), together with the three super overarching principles: domains- purpose, practice, and impact, along with the Department for Education (2018) Knowledge and Skills Statement (KSS) for Children and family. The paper will also use elements of Gibbs (1988) reflective model.

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The Ethics and Human Rights Committee (2014) policy discusses the importance of confidentiality and protection of the service user’s identity. Legally, the Data Protection Act (1998), provided by Legislation.gov.uk (1998-2003), also informs that individual data must be kept secure. Therefore, the service user and her family will be anonymised to ensure that confidentiality is preserved. The service user will be addressed as SU, her mother will be addressed as SUP, and her brother will be addressed as SUB. The analytical reflection will focus on a phone call with SUB and how this impacted SUP and SU.



As part of the placements policy and procedure; foster carers can have support persons to help with fostering tasks, for example, a support person can help pick up a young person from school if the carer cannot and more. This demonstrated BASW (2018) PCF domain Diversity and Equality, Rights and Justice, Knowledge, Skills and Intervention & context and organisations. However, for this to be endorsed, a support person risk assessment must be completed. Furthermore, I was completing a support person risk assessment for SU’s mother which demonstrated KSS 1; relationships and effective direct work, KSS 2; Child and family assessment and PCF SD (Refresh 2018) “Purpose” and Practice”. This was in order to build a productive relationship with the whole of SU’s family and endorse the support intervention to help her which aligns with The Policy, Ethics and Human Rights Committee (2014) Social work Code of Ethics.

Part of the assessment involved a character reference to support the assessment. Moreover, SUP put forward her son, SU’s brother for a character reference. I had previously called SUB beforehand but had not received a response, so I left voicemails. However, one Friday after work around 5:15 pm I decided to call him to obtain a character reference. SUB answered the phone and proceeded to be verbally aggressive, threatening and rude. Throughout the phone call, SUB stated he would not be providing another character reference as he had done so before. Also, he would be encouraging SUP to make a complaint and luckily had my name from the voicemail to do so, that he was an ex-solicitor and “found it an absolute disgrace I had lost his original character reference and this was a breach of GDPR regulations (EU) 2016/679”.

After SUB disconnected the call, I was very shocked and upset. In being upset, I called SUP to apologise and discuss what had happened with SUB but unfortunately, I could not get my words out. SUP could tell I was upset and said she would get SU to give me a call later as she was out shopping at that moment with SU and the looked after child. After the phone call, SU called a few hours later, but as I was still upset, I chose to ignore the call. Also, I was trying to contact my Practice Educator, but unfortunately, her work phone was off, and I did not have her mobile. Moreover, for the whole weekend, I was upset and worried about the incident and the outcome of this.

The next section will touch upon relevant theories, legislation and values to understand the critical incident more. The next section will also reference the new revised Professional Capabilities Framework domains outlined by BASW (2018), together with the three super overarching principles: domains- purpose, practice, and impact. Where possible, the KSS (2018) will also be mentioned in the next section.


Under better circumstances, I would like to believe I would not have reacted the way I had done. Moreover, upon reflection, Systems theory by Bronfenbrenner (1979) enabled me to think about other elements that were connected that influenced the way I reacted. Engard (2017) commented that Systems theory looks at behaviour which is influenced by different factors that work together as a system. Some examples of these are a person’s parents, friends, work and more all influence how a person thinks and acts. Taking this into consideration, I had a particularly stressful week that involved Journey to foster training Monday to Wednesday in Bromsgrove. The motorway was congested on the 3 days meaning I’d return home quite late and be up quite early. In addition to this on Thursday, I had another presentation to deliver and meetings. Factoring the work element and how tired and stressed I was, I believe the phone call on Friday was the tipping point. In addition to this, as it was a weekend, my support networks such as my friends were not available. Also, my practice educator was not responding to her emails or work phone, so I was worried over the weekend.

Maclean & Harrison (2015) commented that systems theory recognised that a person’s support network could be placed under strain because of a change in circumstances, for example, a new event. Moreover, the strain could result in the systems not working smoothly. Furthermore, my Microsystem was not linking with my Mesosystem which caused a strain on my emotional wellbeing. Additionally, I gained a better understanding of why theory is vital in social work and for service users; by charting a person’s entire system, the professional, in this case, social worker would be able to work out the source of the problem and introduce relevant intervention, for example, a referral to an agency such a CAHMS and more.

Another theory that helped analyse the incident better is Learning Theory, particularly Kolb & Fry (1974) 4 stage learning cycle; concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. This theory was particularly beneficial as the 4 stages allowed me to reflect on the incident. For example, the first stage of the cycle is what I experienced which is the critical incident. The second stage is my reflection of the incident which is one of the aims of the paper. The third stage is reflecting more widely which allow me to reflect wider drawing on relevant theories and journal articles and more. The last stage is the active experimentation where I develop an effective action plan. For example, if this situation were to happen again, I would make sure I had a strong support network and more. Besides, the learning theory is like Gibbs’s (1988) reflection cycle which looks at the whole incident. Kolb (2014) stated that learning is the progression where knowledge is created through the conversion of experience which in turn informs practice.

 A model that is like systems theory and Learning Theory and helped me understand why my emotional resilience was low is the Resilience Model by Grotberg (1995). The model is split into three categories; I am which looks at personal strength; I can, which refers to using my problem-solving skills to help yourself and lastly, I have, which looks at external resources for support such as friends, family, colleagues and more. Although the model is aimed at the resilience of children; an advantage is that it can be applied to adults also. Grotberg (1995) suggested that a resilient person does not need all these features to be resilient, but one is not enough.

However, I disagree with this statement as I would’ve been more reassured and supported had I been supported by my friends and my practice educator. Furthermore, I believe that all 3 features need to be in place for a person to be sufficiently resilient. This is particularly important as Munro (2011) highlighted the need for social workers to demonstrate professional confidence. Similarly, the Social Work Task Force (SWTF 2009) highlighted the need for social workers to develop empathy and resilience. Furthermore, Rajan-Rankin (2013) commented that the need for resilience is essential due to the fact of social workers experiencing high rates of stress and burnouts which I experienced during the week of the incident.

The point made by Rajan-Rankin (2013) is further supported by the statement made by Arroba & James (1987. p.21) referenced by Collins (2008) that Stress is a response to an inappropriate level of pressure. It is a response to pressure, not the pressure itself. Again, I am inclined to agree with this point as although I was stressed throughout the week; the comments made by SUB and my PE not being available over the weekend caused me to be more stressed, and Collins (2008) stated that support is one of the essential strategies involved in coping.


SUB stated that I had broken the GDPR Regulation (EU) 2016/679 by losing SUP character reference. The Publications Office of the European Union (2016) defines a GDPR personal data breach as “a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alternation, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed”. However, this was not the case as firstly; I was not asking for personal information such as date of birth and more, just a character reference and secondly, the information was not lost but archived in the system used by my placement. Unfortunately, I was not able to inform him of this as he was shouting down the phone and subsequently hung up. Moreover, I did not want to speak to him again.

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ICO remarked that all organisations that collect, store or process personal data of individuals need to comply with GDPR. Furthermore, my placement offered Data Protection training and GDPR training. Additionally, during the first two weeks of the induction of placement, I made sure i completed training. Furthermore, when SUB accused me of breaking the GDPR law, the accusation made me angry as I had completed the training and implemented it throughout placement.

Nevertheless, the incident taught me that it is essential for social workers to know relevant legislation when working with children and adults and to have regular training demonstrating BASW (2018) PCF domain knowledge. Johns (2017) and Brammer (2015) both stress the importance of social workers understanding the law relevant to their field as it is a significant way people’s rights are promoted and informs social workers what they can and cannot do. Furthermore, I will continue to familiarise myself with relevant legislation to help inform my practice and help promote the rights of individual which demonstrates KSS 7; Analysis, decision-making, planning and review and KSS 1; Relationships and effective direct work and also BASW (2018) PCF domain Knowledge, Rights and Justice and PCF SD (Refresh 2018) “Impact”.


Much of my values are in alignment with the modules taught at my university, particularly “Relationship-based practice” and “values, ethics & multi-dimensional diversity”. Moreover, these modules and the material learnt has helped underpin my social work practice. For example, a relationship-based practice taught me how to work with children and adults using a range of different skills such as communication and more. Furthermore, I believe in treating individuals how I wish to be treated; with respect, kindness and more. This also correlates with BASW (2014) code of ethics. However, my values were conflicted since I found SUB to be very rude. This, in turn, made me not want to work with SU for the remainder of my placement because of how I was treated. However, I could appreciate that I put SU and SUP in a difficult position and I did not act professionally. I could also appreciate that if SUP thought her personals details was lost, she would naturally talk to her son as I would do the same. This demonstrates BASW (2018) PCF domain “values & ethics” and “critical reflection & analysis”.

Moreover, I appreciate that SU and I had built a positive and friendly relationship which reflects KSS (2018) 1; Relationships and effective direct work, so I could only assume that SU was nervous if and how our relationship would and vice versa. This is also why I did not pick up the phone when she called as I didn’t want to discuss her brother with her as that would be unprofessional. However, this incident has shown me the importance of professional boundaries between a worker and service user as Cooper (2012) stated that mismanagement of boundaries could lead to unprofessional conduct and negative consequences. Moreover, upon evaluation, the question could be asked if I had a more professional relationship with SU; would I react differently? I believe I would. Because I had built a positive, friendly relationship with SU, I did not want to make the situation worse by discussing the incident.

Furthermore, I didn’t want SU or SUP to feel more awkward about the situation. So, the next supervision I had, I did not mention the situation and continued to treat SU as I had previously done supervisions; with respect, dignity, building a positive relationship as well as maintaining professionalism. I also made sure I used open, non-verbal communication such as Egan’s (2013) Soler Theory focusing on O; open posture, E; eye contact and R; being relaxed. This demonstrated KSS (2018) 1; Relationships and effective direct work, KSS (2018) 2; Communication, BASW (2018) PCF Skills and intervention, professionalism and diversity and equality and PCF SD (Refresh 2018) “Practice”. Whilst sitting opposite SU during supervision I kept my arms uncrossed and leant forward smiling which made her relax as she mirrored my position and smiled back.

Also, I used active listening skills which Moss (2017 s.6) stated that “active listening ensures that everything that a person is trying to say is fully received and understood by the listener. This was effective as when supervision ended SU thank me for listening to her and helping her. This also reflected PCF SD (Refresh 2018) “Practice” and “Impact”.

This reflects BASW (2018) PCF domain critical reflection & analysis and Skills & Intervention. It also reflects PCF SD (Refresh 2018) “Purpose”, “Practice” & “Impact” because as much as I was upset, I did not let my values affect my practice, and I continued to support SU, her family and the child in her care and continue to provide her with relevant intervention such as completing a need’s analysis for extra support and more. I was fortunate that SU reciprocated this well and maintained a positive relationship with me.


This analysis of practice has allowed me to work across the 9 PCF domains and the revised BASW PCF refreshed super domains. Using Gibbs’ model (1988) action plan, for future practice I will be reflective in my social work and always strive to improve so I can offer and promote the best practice for families and children demonstrating PCF SD (Refresh 2018) “Purpose” and “Practice” and “Impact” and PCF domain 7 and 1. In addition, I will use Shazer (2007) Solution focus method to implements solutions in order for the incident to not happen again.

Also, I will continue to develop my resilience so I can make professional judgements with a clear mind. I will also continue to research resilience (demonstrating PCF SD (Refresh 2018) “Practice” and “Impact” and PCF domains Knowledge, critical reflection and analysis and skills and intervention) in social work and how this is managed for social worker as I was shocked so little research had been conducted on a rising issue.

Moreover, Rajan-Rankin (2013) stated that the process of resilience remains underdeveloped. Also, Collins (2008) expressed that research studies focusing on stress and social workers have given only limited attention to coping. Furthermore, with the pressure of social work continuing to grow and having experienced stress during my placement this subject is particularly impressive.



  • Data Protection Act (1998)
  • GDPR regulations (EU) 2016/679


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  • The Policy, Ethics and Human Rights Committee. (2014) The Code of Ethics for Social Work: Statement of Principles. [Online] Available from: http://cdn.basw.co.uk/upload/basw_95243-9.pdf. [Accessed: 21st April 2019].
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