Working at the boundaries: the personal–professional relationship

Mark Smith

in Rethinking residential child care

Published by Policy Press

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9781861349088
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303268 | DOI:
Working at the boundaries: the personal–professional relationship

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The personal–professional relationship is fundamental to working with children, but it is also nuanced, duplicitous, and ambiguous. There is a need to embrace this complexity and ensure proper professionalism in residential child care. The relationship established between carers and cared for is fundamental. To put it another way, there is a need to reframe the managerial zeitgeist of ‘what works’ to one of ‘who works’. Putting the personal at the heart of work with children introduces a range of boundary issues. This chapter deals with relationships in the context of residential child care and asks how we can place the relationship at the centre of what we do while recognising and addressing the challenges this presents. It addresses some of the more sensitive issues that confront practitioners on an everyday basis – issues such as love, touch, sexuality, and physical restraint. Ultimately, the chapter argues that ensuring healthy and productive relationships comes down to workers operating from an appropriate ethical base rather than merely adhering to sets of codes and procedures.

Keywords: personal–professional relationship; professionalism; residential child care; love; touch; sexuality; physical restraint

Chapter.  7479 words. 

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