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How to thrive in professional practice (social work book review)

Posted: November 19 2020

Social Work student & staff projects, Social Work
Social Work student & staff projects, Social Work

Interested in Social Work and want to learn more about the subject? The book reviews written by our Social Work students and staff help you identify the best literature to advance your learning.

This week:

  • Title: How to Thrive in Professional Practice
  • Author: Stephan J Mordue, Lisa Watson, and Steph Hunter
  • ISBN: 9781913063894
  • Edition No: 1
  • Publication: 5 May 2020
  • Extent: 168 pages
  • Reviewed by: Joyce Ngoma, MA social work student, Brunel University London
How to Thrive in Professional Practice book cover


This book begins with the authors’ Stephen, Lisa and Steph sharing their life stories in the introduction chapter. Individually, they tell their story reflecting on their life journey as a practitioner and their reality of self-care. In the book it was stated that the authors have several years of experience in social work and working in health and social care settings throughout their career. Reading this I felt confident that the key ideas, advice and information will be presented through their knowledge and disciplinary background.

The structure of the introduction was very clear and interesting as the writers used a dialogue featured between them to tell their story. The authors divided the content of texts into topics and subtopics to signal the start of a new story. The paragraph lengths of the stories are short and straight to the point with no more than 18-19 lines, this prevented confusion and helped the development of the text as it highlights key points and provides detailed accounts with not so much reading to get to know the writers.

Overall, the book is well structured and sectioned into 10 chapters written in an approachable way making it easier for readers to follow and understand the book. Each chapter is introduced with a different topic and written by a different author focusing on their own perspectives and reality of self-care, and achieving professional emotional regulations. This structure can be useful for any reader to select a chapter that speaks to their own interests. Overall, the language used in the book is very clear which reveals the writer’s intentions on supporting the readers well-being on how to thrive in professional practice.

This book is aimed at social workers, social work students and educators. The strength of this book is bringing together three professionals, each contributing a unique perspective to explore their experiences and practice. This is a strength because it increases empathy, being emotionally transported by reading the authors’ emotions. And understanding the combination of the way the authors represent the complexity of social work

Human shape tools, social work values, professional behaviour and development theories and ideas from many disciplines were used. As a postgraduate social work student, I found that these materials gave me a lot of confidence and helped develop a sociological imagination about social work. The social workers’ key tool used in chapter 5 written by Lisa allowed me to recognised that I struggle to say no sometimes. This section therefore helped me to identify that this could be a risk that may lead to me accepting unrealistic levels of stress in the future which might lead to me being unwell. I also reflected on what I currently do to self-care, ease the stress I feel and the positive and negative impacts on my wellbeing.

In chapter 1, Stephan talks about the fundamental principles of social work and the demands of the workplace of a social worker. He mentions some problems a social worker may deal with, for example emotional exhaustion and the workload or seeing the worst of humanity. Social workers and trainee social workers rightly understand many of the issues they may face in this profession. However, I would argue and say that the way Stephan explains the identity of a social worker can put an individual off becoming a social worker. We understand the world is a stressful place, professional work is demanding and we have to work hard to achieve, but as a young person who has started their masters to become a qualified social worker, I do not want to be labelled as the individual with all the baggage and nothing about who they are. This chapter made me pause and think about the type of social worker I want to be during my placement and in the future when I graduate, also the specific role I want to play as a social worker.

The authors further stress that social workers have to identify how they respond emotionally and recognise when they are exhausted in advance before it is too late. Furthermore, knowing how to divert back to their self-care approaches if they have lost their way. They argue that the importance of resilience cannot be overestimated, and not only social workers but all professionals need resilient on a practical level. This book reminds social workers in particular that there are three elements that they need to take care of, physical, practical and emotional resilience in order to stay well and be productive.