Drinking from the well : developing social work practice with service users and carers

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In this Ph.D. by Published Works, I present a range of inter-related papers evidencing a knowledge base which has advanced understanding in regard to the involvement of service users and carers in important aspects of research, policy and education. The core theme I elicit in this corpus of work centres on developing social work practice with service users and carers based on partnership and engagement. My research is centred on the theme of service user involvement and concludes that, when this is approached in a structured and genuine way, positive outcomes can result in terms of developing social work practice with service users and carers.

Drinking from the well is a metaphor I use in the title of my Analysis to portray the depth of challenge involved in achieving user involvement that is both meaningful and non-tokenistic. In calling for an enhanced relational approach to social work practice, my research provides examples of original and innovative approaches to working with user/experiential knowledge in the fields of education, policy and research. My work is, therefore, significant in its influence of knowledge development more broadly in the field of service user and carer involvement. Working with service user researchers as collaborators in research design and process has been a defining feature of my work. An additional innovative aspect of my research is the involvement of service users in education who have had direct experience of political conflict. My work has also evidenced the impact of service user involvement on the understanding of key threshold concepts by social work students and looks to the future in regard to how understanding in this important field can benefit from further theorizing.
Date of AwardDec 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast

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