Handle with care: self-esteem influences on students undertaking personal care tasks

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    Social care tasks are not always seen as an important part of social work education by students. However, they can bring many benefits in terms of personal satisfaction as well as professional development. This paper offers a reinterpretation of data reported in a recent paper by Fenton and Walker (2012), in which the authors reported findings from interviews with a group of students who had undertaken personal care tasks whilst on practice learning opportunities (PLOs). In that original interpretation, the interviews were deconstructed with reference to the concept of value/behaviour congruence i.e. the satisfaction that arises when workers can base their practice on their values, particularly in regard to helping (Fenton, 2011).The current paper offers an alternative conceptual framework through which to analyse the findings: a two-dimensional model of self esteem (Mruk ,2006). It is suggested that the transformative process the students experienced, from reluctance and upset at the thought of undertaking personal care tasks to real positivity and enthusiasm, can be understood in terms of processes of self esteem protection and enhancement. The analysis offers further insight into the benefits as well as the risks associated with encouraging students to undertake these tasks. Some implications for social work education are considered.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)224-239
    Number of pages15
    JournalSocial Work Education
    Volume33 - 2014
    Issue number2
    Early online date11 Feb 2013
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    Event21st Century Solutions: Evolving or Revolving? - Manchester, United Kingdom
    Duration: 12 Jul 2012 → …


    • social work
    • self-worth
    • self-competence
    • self-esteem
    • personal care
    • practice learning


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