The course was facilitated by The University of Salford and funnded by GMSWA. The overall aim was to teach newly qualified social workers mindfulness techniques which would help them to develop resilience in their social work practice. Each day could be accessed as a stand alone day. Over 50 social workers attended across the 6 days, each day had a different theme.
Course Content – Mindfulness course 30th April – 4th June 2019
30th April – Mindfulness and Social Work Practice
7th May – Being in the Moment /Moments in Practice
14th May – Body Awareness / Stress management
21st May – Maintaining Good Mental Health
28th May – Understanding Emotional Intelligence
4th June – Exploring Crisis / difficult practice
Each day participants completed a reflective evaluation from which it could be seen that mindfulness attitudes and ways of thinking had begun to take hold. A few were committed to meditation daily, with many attempting to balance their work life with time at home and with family. There appears to be a consciousness of space and time, so that they no longer allowed work to encroach on family time. There was also an increase in self-care with many taking 3-minute breathing spaces at work, and others creating time to take a lunch break.
Many techniques and strategies were practiced on the course and those who attended more than once reported which they were using these both at home and at work. They reported that they were doing assessments, writing reports, undertaking visits etc more mindfully. They were able to notice when they were not giving their full attention to service users or in meetings and bring their attention back to the present moment. They said they were using the techniques to deal with unwholesome thoughts, of excess worry and anxiety. There was a sense of optimism about difficult practice and mess. That they could handle this and learn from it, “The messier the situation the better the learning.” One or two felt it was a key component of how they would practice going forward. One wrote “It allowed me to just “be” in my life and this has changed my entire view on life and how I live
All participants had qualified within the last 2 years and a number commented on how training in mindfulness techniques and activities impacted their “being” and “becoming” a social worker?
“Helped me to reflect on difficult situations whilst reducing the amount of time I dwell on them. Identify nourishing activities helped me to have opportunities for relaxation. These will help me to have a good work life balance and take time out for myself.”
“I am able to have more control over my thoughts.”
“It has grounded me, teaching me to focus on the present. I’ve been less stressed as a result. I have not been thinking what if as much (catastrophising).”
“Definitely my “being” I’m less reactive in stressful situations at work, love me more, focus time with families, and visit the families with a quite mind. Just to be and the things will always pass.”
“Being more mindful in my working day is allowing me to be more focused and present in my conversations/interactions with others or self-aware of my own emotions my thoughts and feelings.”
The course appears to have met its aim as noted by participants in their comments on the overall course.
“-This course has supported me to make lots of positive changes in my work/personal life.
-I found this program very engaging and it has given me a more positive mindset to help me in a difficult profession.
-The mindfulness course has been really helpful to me in developing my emotional resilience in social work. I feel my emotions are more balanced, I’m leaning into the discomfort and I’m enjoying the gratitude practices.”