Exploring social workers’ personal domains in rural practice

Sarah Wendt, Wendy Schiller, Brian Cheers, Karen Francis, Bob Lonne

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Summary: This article is grounded on Cheers, Darracott, and Lonne's (2007) framework for conceptualizing the factors that influence rural social care practitioners in their work. Focusing on the 'personal domain' we report results of qualitative interviews with 22 social workers who were part of a larger sample of 82 Australian rural social practitioners. As part of the larger study, practitioners were asked how they defined social care, whether they practised it and if so how, factors influencing their practice, and the information bases they used. Findings: Analysis of the social work interviews identified that the personal domain had considerable influence on their day-to-day practice. Five themes emerged describing the personal domain: 'life experiences', 'beliefs and values', 'ideas and theories', 'personal relationships', and 'personal characteristics'. We call for further research to conceptualize the domain more clearly, identify factors within it, and investigate how they influence practice, with special focus on how social workers' personal moral-ethical frameworks influence their practice decisions. Application: Opening space to explore the personal domain challenges social work practitioners and students to critically reflect on how their life experiences, beliefs and values, ideas and theories and personal relationships and characteristics influence their practice. It also provides practitioners, employers, and professional organizations with knowledge they need to help social workers cope with the demands of practice.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)194-210
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Social Work
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


    • personal domain
    • reflective practice
    • social work
    • use of self


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