Examining the Stress and Conflict in Practice Experienced by Social Workers Working within the Criminal Justice System and Exploring how they Cope
The purpose of this research is to examine the tensions between the ethics, values and principles of the social work profession and the risk assessment and risk-based case management approach within the criminal justice system, and to do so from the front-line social worker perspective that explores the disjuncture in practice and how it is addressed. The method used for this research is a phenomenological qualitative research design. The participants recruited for this research study were a purposive sample of seventeen (17) individuals who possess a social work degree and who work within the Canadian criminal justice system as probation officers with adult clients. This dissertation examines the stress and conflict in practice reported by social workers working within the criminal justice system. This research identifies specific areas of conflict and explores the ways in which social workers working within the criminal justice system are adapting social work ethics, values and principles to cope with the stress and conflict in practice. Findings indicate ongoing degree of disjunctive distress in practice which suggests that burnout is still a threat for many social workers working within the criminal justice system. Subsequently, an important theme throughout this research is the idea of burnout and self-care, and respondents called for attention from both the criminal justice system and social work educators to address those concepts. All respondents stress the need for social workers to work within the criminal justice system, and the belief that those who are able to maintain social work values in practice are a great ally for clients. All respondents acknowledge that there is an undeniable need from the standpoint of offenders within the criminal justice system for social workers to be a present and active ally for their basic needs and well-being. Conclusively, these findings indicate a need for an alliance between the ethics, values and principles of the social work profession and the criminal justice system.
Stress and Conflict Social Workers Criminal Justice System Cope