Developing professional resilience
: the impact of working with violent offenders on criminal justice social workers working in Scotland

  • Dawn Gray

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Criminal justice social worker in Scotland work with clients who have been convicted of violent offences or who present as violent and/or aggressive during supervision sessions. Additionally, part of the role of a criminal justice social worker is to analyse offences committed by their clients, which involves hearing or reading detailed descriptions of those offences. This potentially places practitioners at risk of harm, both physically and psychologically, and may result in criminal justice social workers being absent from work due to illness or stress. Absence from work will have added cost to local authorities who are increasingly requires to manage resources with less finances available. The research aims to investigate the professional and personal impact that working with violent offenders may have on criminal justice social workers working in Scotland. The potential consequences for criminal justice social workers of working with such clients has not been previously investigated. Methodical hermeneutics was utilised as a methodological approach to grounded theory methods. Semi-structured interviews, of a purposive sample, of eighteen Scottish criminal justice social workers were transcribed and analysed in accordance with Embodied Categorizing (Rennie & Fergus, 2006), a constant comparative method. Four main categories: Potential Contaminants to Self; Safety and Wellbeing; Developing Professionally; and Perception of Professional Worth evolved from sub-categories and categories. A core category of Developing Professional Resilience emerged from the four main categories. The findings demonstrate that although participants experience negative consequences resulting from their work with violent and/or aggressive clients, they took responsibility for their own safety and wellbeing, utilising various sources of support and coping strategies.
Date of AwardSept 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorMichael Nash (Supervisor)

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