“Coming to Terms” with One's Own Professional Practice – the Possible Role of Narrative Interviews for Self-Reflection and Self-Assurance of School Social Workers

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:45
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Johannes KLOHA, Universität Bamberg, Germany
School social work is an emerging field of practice of social work in Germany. While there is a significant body of “programmatic” literature on school social work, more research is necessary in order to understand the work processes and the challenges practitioners face in this professional field. In my dissertation research I therefore aim at the reconstruction of interaction processes of school social workers and central problems they regularly face in their professional work.

The empirical basis for my research consists mainly in work narratives (Riemann 2000) of school social workers about their casework with students and their families. The analytical process is based on a Grounded Theory perspective (e.g. Glaser/Strauss 1967) and follows steps of the narration structure analysis (e.g. Schütze 1983, 2007).

In this paper I will focus on the question, how school social workers deal with the problem to gain certainty about the consequences of their own work with regard to confusing, blurred and sometimes chaotic case developments. It can be problematic for professionals to appropriately reflect their own practice with its possible mistakes or the feeling of being overwhelmed by the dynamic of the casework process. At the same time it can be difficult to self-assure oneself of the impact of one’s work within the student’s biographic development (c.f. Riemann 2000). On the basis of my empiric material, it seems appropriate to approach this question in two steps:

Firstly, I will highlight how the described problem emerges as one of several central difficulties and practice dilemmas within the professional “arc of work” (cf. Strauss et al. 1985).

Secondly, I will discuss strategies of professionals for dealing with these problems and ask, which potential – but also which limitations – lie in the interview situation itself to allow for this kind of “evaluation work” (cf. Schütze 1984).