What is professional identity and how do social workers acquire it?

Wiles, Fran (2017). What is professional identity and how do social workers acquire it? In: Webb, Stephen A. ed. Professional Identity and Social Work. Routledge Academic, pp. 35–50.

URL: https://www.routledge.com/Professional-Identity-an...


The past decade has seen a growing interest in social workers’ professional identity. For students, it is increasingly viewed as an important outcome of qualifying education, to be developed and maintained throughout their social work careers. Being clear and confident about identity is considered to improve social workers’ contribution in working with other professionals. A strong, positive sense of professional identity is said to bolster social workers’ resilience to stress. Professional identity, when linked with the concept of ‘professionalism’, has become bound up with the regulation of practitioners and the avoidance of ‘unprofessional’ behaviour. These are just some of the ways in which the concept of professional identity has come to the fore: but are we all talking about the same thing? Understanding the different meanings and their usage is important for social workers, especially in the face of debate about the nature of social work and how it is best taught and regulated. This chapter discusses these meanings and suggests some ways in which practitioners – especially students and newly qualified workers - develop it.

Viewing alternatives

Download history

Item Actions