Social workers regularly make high-risk, high-impact decisions: determining that a child has been abused; that an individual may take their own life; or that someone with a history of violence poses harm to another. In the course of this work, social workers are exposed to acute and prolonged workplace trauma and stress that may result in posttraumatic stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout. These effects not only impact practitioners, but also the decisions that social workers make and ultimately the quality of the services that they provide.
In this book, Cheryl Regehr explores the intersection between workplace stress, trauma exposure, and professional decision-making in social workers. She weaves together practice experience, research on the impact of stress and trauma on performance and decision-making in other high-risk professions including paramedics and police officers, and the empirical study of competence and decision-making in social work practice. Covering a wide range of research and theory, she surveys practical approaches to reducing stress and trauma exposure, mitigating their effects in social work practice, and improving decision-making. This book is critical reading for all social workers who engage in high-stakes decision-making, from those newly embarking on a career to expert practitioners.
Regehr is masterful in her ability to synthesize research knowledge and scholarship from social work and related fields and bring the resulting synthesis to the discussion of this complex topic. She is exceptionally well informed about the relevant fields, particularly stress and trauma, and also draws on a range of social science and health disciplines, including recent work on neuroscience. The resulting synthesis is creative, original, and rigorous.
Imogen Taylor, University of Sussex
Regehr provides a literate, timely analysis of how stress and trauma affect decision-making in social workers. Using in part her own substantial research program on social workers' risk assessment and decision-making activities, Regehr analyzes social workers' experience of stress and trauma in their work, as well as approaches to mitigation of stress and trauma. With its extensive review of post-traumatic stress and acute stress disorder literature, the book could be readily used by teachers, scholars, and practitioners in social work and related fields.
John H. Harvey, Editor, Journal of Loss and Trauma, and Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Iowa
Drawing on her wide experience, Regehr teases out how stress and trauma affect social workers and their work in this well-written and practice-relevant book. Timely in this era of doubted experts, this book will equip social workers, their managers, their supervisors, and educators with knowledge and reflective commentary about the impact of stress and trauma and what can be done to maintain good decision-making and risk taking.
Jill Manthorpe, King's College London, UK
Stress, Trauma, and Decision-Making in Social Work, written by a renowned researcher-practitioner with decades of experience in the area of occupational and traumatic stress, offers its readers an innovative, trauma-informed decision-making model for social workers in high-risk situations and those working with traumatized populations.
Carol Tosone, New York University Silver School of Social Work, and editor-in-chief, Clinical Social Work Journal
About the Author:
Cheryl Regehr is vice president and provost for the University of Toronto and professor in the Faculty of Social Work. Her other books include In the Line of Fire: Trauma in the Emergency Services (Oxford UP, 2005) and Mental Health Social Work Practice in Canada (Oxford UP, 2010).