Awareness, Acceptance and Action

Neil Abell, Audrey Roulston

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


“The Troubles”, a period of conflict between Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland (1968-1998), claimed thousands of lives and left many more grievously injured. Following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, a period of relative peace has prevailed and much progress has been made. Still, the trauma engendered and endured during this period has left lasting wounds, and citizens face ongoing challenges in reconciling their differences, recognizing their similarities, and developing a peaceful, thriving society. Social workers form a front line of engagement between sometimes wary and suspicious communities living shoulder-to-shoulder beside Peace Walls protecting members of one community from the other. We report on a series of focus groups conducted with social work practice learning teachers and students in 2016. To facilitate both insider and outsider perspectives, the cross-national research team obtained ethical approval for research from U.S. and N.I. academic institutions. Four sessions (two each with different cohorts of practice teachers and students) were audio-recorded and transcribed. A qualitative thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was conducted. Group discussions explored the application of mindfulness principles and stigma theory to participants’ tendencies to label, stereotype, distance from and discriminate against those whose sectarian identities differed from their own, and to consider the implications of those biases on their capacity to deliver compassionate social services. Excerpts of participants’ observations will illustrate challenges in speaking candidly about long-hidden sectarian, classist, and racial fears, processes for managing latent and overt traumatic reactions to “the other”, motivations to alternately conceal or disclose charged feelings, and coping strategies for moving forward. Educational strategies being piloted to address these issues in classroom and field environments will be introduced
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 05 Jul 2018
EventJoint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development 2018 - RDS Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 04 Jul 201807 Jul 2018


ConferenceJoint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development 2018
Abbreviated titleSWSD 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Awareness, Acceptance and Action'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this