My Body-Mind tells me things my profession and sometimes I find hard to hear_J Mensinga_Redacted.pdf (2.68 MB)

My Body/Mind tells me things my profession and sometimes I find hard to hear: A narrative exploration of how social workers and human service workers listen to their bodies in practice

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posted on 2023-08-25, 05:47 authored by Joanna MensingaJoanna Mensinga
The role and impact of the body in professional practice has attracted increased attention in recent years (Green & Hopwood, 2015a; Hopwood, 2015), however it has not received the same level of interest in social work. Although social work and human service practitioners have long understood the importance of placing the body in particular positions to reduce power imbalances between worker and client and to facilitate constructive conversations, how body processes (including neurobiological activity) impact the quality of assessments and interventions have not been much explored nor considered important (Cameron & McDermott, 2007). Similarly, even though embodied practices such as yoga have increased in popularity and gained credibility as a therapeutic approach (Chan, Ng, Ho, & Chow, 2006; Emerson, Sharma, Chaudhry, & Turner, 2009), little exists to encourage and/or assist social work and human service practitioners to move beyond the dualistic underpinnings of the professions or to explore alternate ontological and epistemological ways of being and knowing and what they may offer clients and/or their own understanding of practice. This research project, using a narrative inquiry approach underpinned by a post-conventional philosophical base (Bell, 2012), provides a rich description of how three social workers and three human services practitioners constitute and narrate an embodied professional self as they navigate the professional contexts in which they work. The stories told by these participants reveal that, in response to the dominance of Cartesian Dualism and its influence on cultural and professional understandings, the processes they use to constitute an embodied professional self is largely a private undertaking that remains ‘secret’, unacknowledged, misunderstood and/or discouraged in the workplace and supervision context. Moreover, the decision to story themselves as an embodied ii professional self is a political act influenced by participants’ perception of whether the embodied self will contribute to their professional positioning, ‘moral agency’ and/or ability to secure outcomes for clients in the sector (Healy, 2014; Lindemann-Nelson, 2001).



Central Queensland University

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Dr Daniel Teghe ; Associate Professor Fiona McDermott

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis