I suppose, for all the apparent passion and rage of youth, the young worker’s sense of personal discovery may in practice overtake the need for inducing real change in their clients’ lives. The first years in the profession are a real turmoil of new experiences. As a student indeed I can recall episodes of what must have been stress related symptoms, often when travelling, as a sort of tingling grip would develop around my stomach with such vice like force that I would have to stop and recover in the fresh air. There was a time when I think I seemed to find the sense of discovery to be enough, and to find the ability to describe the world in more detail to be sufficiently engaging that achieving change became of secondary interest.

However the profession I had entered was ultimately only justifiable if it produced change. I have written about the struggle between a political perspective and a psychological one as I sought to make sense of the issues I found at work, and how I leaned to the psychological. This struggle was a key feature of my social work training not least because the most influential tutor on the course, Bill Jordan, engaged directly with that struggle. His books acted this out being on the one hand about political and social issues such as poverty, and on the other about the interpersonal transactions that took place in social work practice.

My impression was that Bill did not altogether trust his insights into emotional dynamics and was more intellectually confident that real change would come through politics and not social work. For my part, I had lost belief in the effectiveness of politics – whether for good reasons or bad I am still divided.


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