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Therapist, Intermediary or Garbage Can? Examining Professional Challenges for School Social Work in Swedish Elementary Schools
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8581-6241
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5696-996x
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6330-5640
2023 (English)In: International Journal of School Social Work, E-ISSN 2161-4148, Vol. 8, no 1, article id 4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this article is to describe and analyse critical components that influence the role and performance of school social workers in the Swedish elementary school. Special attention will be paid to aspects related to formal regulations, professional self-understanding, and SSWs’ role in the interplay between professional domains involved in elementary school.

The data collection was conducted through four semi-structured qualitative focus group interviews with a total of 22 School Social Workers (SSWs) in four different regions in Sweden during the latter part of 2019.

The results reveal three main challenges for the SSW: 1. To navigate in a pedagogic and medical arena within a multidisciplinary team, 2. To manage ambiguity without formal regulations and in unclear settings and leadership, and finally, 3. To negotiate tasks at different levels, with a health promotional and preventive focus. The SSW ends up, mainly, in remedial work with individual children. The results also disclose SSWs hold a vague professional self-understanding position with little formal mandate to perform their work. We suggest that national guidelines for SSWs be developed, and that a common base of knowledge and education be established.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New Prairie Press , 2023. Vol. 8, no 1, article id 4
Keywords [en]
School social worker (SSW), multidisciplinary team, counselling, professional self-understanding, formal regulations
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-204346DOI: 10.4148/2161-4148.1102OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-204346DiVA, id: diva2:1733363
Available from: 2023-02-02 Created: 2023-02-02 Last updated: 2024-03-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Skolkuratorns samtalspraktik: en studie om individuella samtal med barn i den svenska grundskolan
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Skolkuratorns samtalspraktik: en studie om individuella samtal med barn i den svenska grundskolan
2024 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
The counselling practice of school social workers : a study of individual counselling with children in Swedish elementary schools
Abstract [en]

This thesis fills part of the existing knowledge gap regarding school social workers (SSW) individual counselling practice. The overall aim is to investigate the individual SSW counselling in Swedish elementary schools, as part of the pupil health team (PHT). This will be achieved by exploring the following three basic research questions: What characterizes school social work regarding structure, process and interventions in individual counselling sessions held by SSWs with children? How do SSWs describe the difficulties and opportunities in school social work, interventions and performance, and collaboration with other actors in pupil health teams? What characterises SSWs’ individual counselling according to the adolescents’ experiences and expressed needs

This thesis consisted of four research studies. The first one concentrated on SSWs personal experiences of counselling children, in which focus group studies were conducted with 22 SSWs (four groups). In the second study, the SSWs described their experiences of being a part of a multi-disciplinary team, the PHT, during the focus group interviews. These two studies were analysed by content analysis. The third study consisted of a quantitative protocol study regarding child characteristics, counselling strategies and interventions analysed by descriptive statistics. The purpose on the fourth study was to increase knowledge about the individual counselling from the adolescents’ perspective. Individual interviews were conducted and analysed through content analysis.

This thesis highlighted the necessity for children to express themselves, in regards to their life situation, concerns and problems. SSWs could be one prominent actor in the children’s lives by providing individual counselling sessions. SSWs are described as the PHT psychosocial expert with specialised knowledge regarding the impact of negative psychosocial factors on children.In addition, this thesis concluded that available regulations and guidelines meant insure that children are listened and able to express their narrative in a safe and trustful school counselling environment are limited.

Abstract [sv]

Denna avhandling fyller en del av den kunskapslucka som finns gällande skolkuratorers individuella samtalspraktik. Det övergripande syftet är att undersöka den individuella samtals praktik som skolkurator bedriver i den svenska kommunala grundskolan, inom ramen för skolans elevhälsoarbete. Tre grundläggande forskningsfrågor formulerades enligt följande: Vad kännetecknar det skolsociala arbetet med avseende på struktur, process och interventioner i skolkuratorns individuella samtal med barn? Hur beskriver skolkuratorer sina erfarenheter av hjälpande och försvårande aspekter i skolsocialt arbete, interventioner och utförande samt samverkan med andra aktörer i elevhälsoteamet? Vad kännetecknar skolkuratorns individuella samtal utifrån ungdomarnas erfarenheter och uttryckta behov?

Avhandlingen består av fyra delstudier vilka publicerats i vetenskapliga artiklar. Den ena studien koncentrerar sig på skolkuratorernas egna erfarenheter av individuella samtal med barn, baserad på fokusgruppsintervjuer som genomfördes med 22 skolkuratorer (fördelade på fyra fokusgrupper). I den andra studien beskrev samma grupp av skolkuratorer sina erfarenheter av att vara en del av ett multiprofessionellt team, elevhälsoteamet (EHT) under fokusgruppsintervjuerna. Dessa två studier analyserades genom innehållsanalys. Den tredje studien i avhandlingen består av en kvantitativ protokollstudie avseende barns karakteristika, samtalsstrategier och interventioner. Skolkuratorer (20 stycken) fyllde i ett protokoll efter avslutat samtal med ett barn. Totalt samlades 193 protokoll in baserade på samma antal unika barn och analyserades med deskriptiv statistik. Den fjärde studiens syfte var att fördjupa kunskapen om de individuella skolkurativa samtalen ur ungdomarnas perspektiv. Individuella intervjuer med ungdomar (15 år) genomfördes och analyserades sedan genom innehållsanalys.

Avhandlingen belyser nödvändigheten för barn att uttrycka sig själva, när det gäller sin livssituation, sin oro och sina problem. Avhandlingen visar att skolkurator kan vara en aktör för att hjälpa och avlasta barn genom individuella samtal. Skolkuratorer beskrivs som skolans och elevhälsoteamets (EHT) psykosociala expert, med fördjupad kunskap om psykosociala effekter och konsekvenser för barn.

En ytterligare slutsats i avhandlingen är att det saknas regler eller riktlinjer för skolkuratorns individuella samtal i svenska grundskolor. Det kan vara av vikt att sådana regler och riktlinjer upprättas, för att säkerställa att barn blir lyssnade och för att kunna uttrycka sin berättelse i en trygg och tillitsfull samtalsmiljö i skolan.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2024. p. 129
Series
Studier i socialt arbete vid Umeå universitet : avhandlings- och skriftserie, ISSN 0283-300X ; 101
Keywords
School social work, School social counselling, mental ill-health, children, adolescents, Skolsocialt arbete, skolkurator, skolkurativa samtal, psykisk ohälsa, barn, ungdomar
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-222335 (URN)9789180703185 (ISBN)9789180703178 (ISBN)
Public defence
2024-04-19, Hörsal UB.A.220, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Forskningsfinansiär: Åre kommun

Available from: 2024-03-26 Created: 2024-03-14 Last updated: 2024-03-18Bibliographically approved

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Kjellgren, MariaLilliehorn, SaraMarkström, Urban

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