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Compassion - a resource or threat for the professional social worker?
Dalarna University, School of Health and Social Studies, Social Work.
2011 (English)In: The 2011 Joint Nordic Conference on Welfare and professionalism in Turbulent Times, Reykjavik, 2011Conference paper, Published paper (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

What is the proper place of compassion within social work? Should social workers feel compassion for their clients, or is this something that should be avoided? Opinions differ. While some have claimed that compassion should be avoided in favor of a more detached and professional approach, others argue that compassion is an important, and unavoidable part, of a proper working-alliance. While some claim that compassion can be beneficial for the client, recent studies have suggested that too much compassion can lead to so-called compassion fatigue and be detrimental for the professional. If we want to assess these claims, we must first consider what compassion is. That is the purpose of this study. The aim is to gain a better understanding of what compassion is, with a special eye to the question as to whether compassion is a resource or threat within professional social work. Methods include conceptual analysis and phenomenological descriptions of compassion and related phenomena. The results can be summarized in two main claims. The first is that compassion is a particular kind of suffering directed towards the suffering of someone. What is special about compassion is that it is a suffering for another person’s sake: When you feel compassion (and only compassion) for another person, then you suffer over her suffering for her sake and not your own sake. The second claim is that compassion in and of itself is not harmful to the person feeling it. Although compassion consists in suffering, since it is a suffering for another person’s sake, a person feeling compassion is not, and does not take herself to be, the victim of something bad. It is an essential feature of compassion that if you feel compassion (and only compassion) for another person, then you take this person to be the victim of a harm but you do not take yourself to be so. In conclusion it is argued that these results point towards a more positive view of compassion and its place within social work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Reykjavik, 2011.
Keyword [en]
compassion, social work, medlidande, socialt arbete
Research subject
Hälsa och välfärd, Lidande och medlidande
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-5765OAI: oai:dalea.du.se:5765DiVA: diva2:522346
Conference
The 2011 Joint Nordic Conference on Welfare and professionalism in Turbulent Times , Reykjavik, 11-13 augusti, 2011
Available from: 2011-09-01 Created: 2011-09-01 Last updated: 2012-04-24Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • chicago-author-date
  • chicago-note-bibliography
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf