• Louise Löwegren Poulsen
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis deals with social workers who are affected by work-related stress. Social workers are the second most stressed professional group in Denmark. This is shown by a comprehensive study carried out by the Danish Working Environment Authority, the final results of which were published in 2021. The study also shows that one in three social workers often or all the time experiences being stressed.
With the involvement of theorists such as Hartmut Rosa, Nadia U. Prætorius and Pelle Korsbæk Sørensen, the thesis examines the formulation of the problem: "Why do social workers lose job satisfaction and resonance in their working life, burn out and are affected by work-related stress?”
From the conclusion, it appears i.a. that burnout and work-related stress arise when social workers experience that their "personal judgement" has no authority in relation to "the institutional judgement". And when the conditions for achieving recognition are unclear due to a lack of management direction, and limited time to reflect and collaborate on the development of holistic efforts. The acceleration and increased pace of social work is seen when the predominant focus is that efforts must be effective and short-term. In the collected empirical evidence, it has emerged several times that the social worker informants feel that the initiatives that are implemented do not make sense, as they are not adapted to the citizen's need for help and support. Thus, it leads to the experience of loss and resonance for the social worker informants when the social work they do does not make sense

It also appears from the conclusion that social workers can experience "being affected on their professionalism and values" when, within the given framework in the public sector, they have to compromise with their social expertise, holistic view and professional ethical principles. And at the same time make unrealistic promises about being able to prioritize, work efficiently and be robust enough to meet the expectations and demands. A condition which over time can cause social workers to develop moral and work-related stress.
Finally, it appears from the conclusion, that moral burnout and work-related stress can be caused by social workers not having the time and opportunity to process the emotional influences they are exposed to in social work, as well as respond relevantly and in time to stress symptoms. Social workers may find it difficult to react in time when they experience symptoms of stress, not only because the workplace norm for what one must be able to withstand from emotional impressions and influences as a social worker, including how mentally robust one must be expected to be, as a social worker. It can also be difficult for social workers to react in time to stress symptoms, because the ability to judge what you can and cannot say no to, is reduced as the stress symptoms develop, you lose contact with yourself and your own judgement.
It is concluded in this context that social workers often find themselves in "double bind" situations, which arise as a consequence of the mismatch between demands and resources, and which mean that social workers often have to do the work half-heartedly and unsatisfactorily for themselves, in order not to succumb and be affected by work-related stress. As a result of these "double bind" situations, social workers struggle to create balance and a sustainable working life. The struggle to achieve balance emerges in the collected empirical evidence as being exhausting and grueling, and days when it is possible to achieve balance are followed by days when the imbalance reigns again. According to Prætorius, this is because double-binding situations are impossible to find solutions for.
Publication date31 May 2023
ID: 532455556