I want to write a little more about the concept of ‘professional survival’. My views about this developed through my early years as a practitioner but informed me throughout my career. I referred to these ideas in an earlier blog.
The idea of ‘professional survival’ has not, I think, received much attention in social work or probation literature and training. Its importance as a result has been insufficiently recognised, perhaps taken for granted because of its apparent obviousness.
This neglect of the apparently obvious has been an all too familiar error in a probation service whose practice has been blighted by a preoccupation with quasi-psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioural programmes. (Though I have little direct experience of direct work with children and families, or with mental illness, I suspect a similar dynamic has been at work there.) In probation for example, any serious analysis of what has in practice actually been delivered to offenders would show that, for all the preoccupation with establishing credible and accredited change programmes, only a small minority of offenders ever attend them or are allocated to them in the first place. Most were subject to a similar kind of well intentioned support and ‘counselling’ that has always characterised mainstream probation practice.