Sources of Knowledge Used by Social Workers in their Everyday Work with Clients

Jana Havlíková

OBJECTIVES: The paper answers the question “What sources of knowledge do social workers declare they use in everyday work with clients?” THEORETICAL BASE: The importance and roles of specific knowledge are discussed in the context of professionalism in social work. METHODS: The paper is based on qualitative (15 semi-structured interviews) and quantitative data (729 completed questionnaires, response rate 23 %) obtained from social workers across all social protection segments. OUTCOMES: By inductive analysis of qualitative data, we defined 6 types of social workers with respect to the sources of knowledge mainly used by them in direct work with clients: 1. Reflection and self-reflection; 2. Practice and experience; 3. Self-confidence in the choice of action; 4. Social work methods; 5. Communication techniques; 6. Internal guidelines of the organization and/or legal prescriptions. The subsequent questionnaire showed that all these types are present in practice; however, “practice and experience” dominates. The emphasis on individual sources of knowledge varied somewhat according to social protection segment. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: Our findings may contribute to the development of the qualification and lifelong education of social workers in their organisations and at the national level. They can predominantly serve the social workers themselves to reflect on their own relationship to the use of specific knowledge in their day-to-day work with clients.

knowledge, social work, professionalism, qualitative and quantitative methodology, Czech Republic

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