Journal Article

Exploring Stress Resilience in Trainee Social Workers: The Role of Emotional and Social Competencies

Gail Kinman and Louise Grant

in The British Journal of Social Work

Volume 41, issue 2, pages 261-275
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2010 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Exploring Stress Resilience in Trainee Social Workers: The Role of Emotional and Social Competencies

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The high levels of stress and burnout endemic to social work have been found to contribute to the current retention problems in the UK. It has been argued that resilience is a protective factor that enhances the ability to manage stress, and promotes well-being in the social care context. Little is known, however, about the individual difference factors that promote resilience in this context, or whether this protects the well-being of staff. In order to inform the development of interventions to enhance the work-related well-being of early career social workers, this study examined several emotional and social competencies (i.e. emotional intelligence, reflective ability, empathy and social competence) as predictors of resilience in 240 trainees. Whether resilience predicted psychological distress was also investigated, together with the role played by resilience in the relationship between emotional intelligence and distress. The emotional and social competencies explained 47 per cent of variance in resilience. A significant negative relationship was found between resilience and psychological distress. Resilience fully mediated the negative association between emotional intelligence and psychological distress, highlighting the importance of inter- and intra-individual emotional competencies in promoting resilience and enhancing well-being. How these findings might inform the curriculum to help trainees enhance resistance to workplace stress is considered.

Keywords: Resilience; work-related stress; well-being

Journal Article.  5089 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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