Social Work Students Managing Emotions: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Utilising Poetry and Prose as an Autoethnographic Turn
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This thesis reports on research exploring how student social workers experience, express and manage the emotional content of practice learning in a relational context. It considers how social/supervisory support promotes emotional management for student social workers. Student respondents reflect on a variety of placement experiences ranging from a third-sector advice centre; a service supporting people who are homeless; local authority child protection services; a hospital discharge team and statutory adult mental health teams. Their responses reveal organisational interventions with a wide range of people from children and families to adults engaging with health and social care services. New knowledge is produced through an identification of unpaid emotional labour as well as how discretion informs developing professionalism within managerialist organisations. There is limited current research or theory illustrating how social workers manage emotions within organisations and even less concerned with how emotions are experienced in generic social work, or which consider emotions from a student social worker perspective in order to develop educational theory. This is the premise of my research. An autoethnographic approach evolves during the life of the research, part of the iterative process on which the premise of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) is founded. This facilitates the presentation of my own lived experience as part of the research, thus confirming my place as both researcher and researched. My sense-making leads to co-creation whereby student respondents’ voices are illuminated either directly through I-poems utilising interview excerpts, or through my own poetic/prose responses to the event of data gathering and subsequent analysis. The oscillation between my experience and that of student respondents aims to achieve authenticity and enable performative research as a means of fostering the third hermeneutic of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). This methodological development contributes to new knowledge in the field of qualitative research.