The Role and Responsibility of Social Work Education in Promoting Practitioner Self-Care

Erlene Grise-Owens, J. Jay Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The profession of social work faces a perfect storm of increasingly complex practice contexts, intensifying demands, and escalating burnout. This crisis requires immediate, critical, and substantive action by social work education. Social work programs function to prepare competent practitioners who can navigate these demands and complexities with efficacy, while sustaining themselves. For too long, practitioner well-being has been significantly neglected. This article promotes a basic tenet: Social work education has a pivotal responsibility and pragmatic role in providing serious, credible attention to the well-being of practitioners. Social work curricula must integrate teaching of self-care as a professional competency. This article provides philosophical rationale and practical strategies for doing so. Through comprehensive attention in implicit and explicit curricula, social work programs can prepare practitioners who can enact social work’s long-standing mission of human rights, social justice, and human well-being. Everyone (e.g., faculty, field supervisors, administrators) has a role and responsibility. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has particular effect in setting standards for social work programs, and, by extension, the profession itself. Thus, the article concludes with a call for CSWE to include self-care in the accreditation standards core competencies required by all social work programs. The profession’s future compels taking proactive, preventative action now.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-648
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Social Work Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Council on Social Work Education.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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