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Issues » 2018/1 - ERIS Journal - Winter 2018 »

Andreas Baldschun

The Work-Related Well-Being of Social Workers in Relationship-Based Settings: A Literature-Based Exploration of the Importance of Impaired Work-Related Well-Being on Case Outcomes


OBJECTIVES: This paper provides a deeper understanding of the importance of the social workers’ work-related well-being for successful case outcomes. THEORETICAL BASE: Recent studies on the work-related well-being of Finnish social workers discovered alarming numbers concerning the employees’ decreasing work-related well-being. The reasons for that are located in the nature of social work and, particularly, in the emotionally demanding worker-client relationship in relationship-based settings. METHODS: The concepts of burnout, occupational stress, compassion fatigue, counter-transference, traumatisation, secondary traumatic stress and vicarious trauma are analysed with regard to the source of distress and preventing factors. The findings are linked with the characteristics of relationship-based settings and are exemplarily applied to the Finnish case. OUTCOMES: Work-related well-being is essential for building and maintaining an efficient and constructive worker–client relationship and as an important element in helping service users to find sustainable solutions for their problem. Supervision, specialized training, organizational support, leadership style and emotional strength are discovered as the main factors for preventing impaired work-related well-being. The impaired work-related wellbeing resulting from deficits in the organizational structure and lack of resources, however, cannot be compensated by the discovered factors. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: This study suggests the adoption of a multidimensional approach to work-related well-being that takes into account the complex structure of work-related well-being.


child protection, mental distress, relationship-based practice, social work, work-related well-being

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