An Interpretative Phenomenological Analytical study of how a group of Scottish social workers have developed resilience ideas, what they are and how they represent them, and how they apply these ideas in working with children and young people

  • Shaun Moran

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Social Work


    Resilience is a central element of Scotland’s National Practice model (GIRFEC) for working with children and young people and is especially relevant for those children who are in complex adverse circumstances. However, there is scant research nationally and internationally about how social workers have developed their resilience ideas, what they are and how they use them in practice.

    This qualitative study explores social workers’ lived experience using the methodology of IPA, with three research questions.1.) How have social workers have developed resilience ideas? 2.) What are they and how do they represent them? 3.) How have they applied resilience ideas in practice? Data was collected through semi structured interviews with nine Scottish social workers currently working with children. Participants were also asked to represent their current resilience ideas via a drawing or diagram. Analysis following the IPA method identified seven superordinate themes with between two and ten subthemes each, relating to the research questions.

    Findings are considered against the existing empirical literature (about what resilience ideas social workers have) as well as the theoretical and critical literature surrounding resilience. Not unusually for an IPA study, the findings pointed to new areas of consideration. One example is that individual ideas and ‘practices ‘of resilience are often deeply connected to the development of the social worker as a whole person: their personal and professional life experiences, their values and priorities and unique character. The application of the Aristotelian ideas of phronesis (professional wisdom) and praxis (moral action) are highlighted as a useful conceptual framework to illuminate this and other observations.

    Finally, the limits of the study are examined, whilst also acknowledging that the findings do point to possible areas for further research and consideration in relation to policy implementation, education and training, supervision, and social work practice.
    Date of Award2021
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBeth Hannah (Supervisor) & Jane Fenton (Supervisor)


    • Children
    • Families
    • Social Work
    • Social Work Praxis
    • Resilience
    • Concepts

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