An Introduction to Use of Self in Field Placement


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Grossly misunderstood concept

This article is amazing... I am half way through my MA degree and studied social care for my undergrad and did not, until this point, understand was meant by the 'use of self' in social work. Despite numerous assignments about my 'use of self' in my practice.

I particularly agree with the beginning of article which writes about the rhetoric of 'use of self' in social work, yet the overall lack of understanding of what the concept means. It might have been my lack of comprehension, but no lecturer/peer has managed to explain this concept to me. It seems that many professionals misunderstand the term.


easily explained, yet still comprehensive and detailed. Really great article! thank you.

Oliver Brockmann more than 3 years ago

Use of self in public

If you run into your client in the grocery store there is no use of self. The rules of confidentiality must dictate all our actions. We must pretend not to know the client. If the client says hi to us we respond with the same.

Cate more than 6 years ago

use of self in public

almost entirely incorrect, we have the respect and awareness to allow the person we work for and with open up to us , if they do we act accordingly and if they dont we then respect that.

Adrian McKenna more than 6 years ago

Response to Adrian

I may be misunderstanding, but I think you are actually agreeing with Cate's comment, which was to speak to the client if the client speaks to you first. more than 6 years ago

use of self in public

am an M Sc. Student in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. My question is.."do we apply self disclosure, self awareness/ identity, self control and self esteem in the use of self in social work practice.

OLIVER JOSEMARIA more than 5 years ago

"Use of self" metaphor

It's been said that I never metaphor I didn't like ... said by me, but that's another story. When I supervised social work students in my agency (I also ran a weekly seminar for all students, including music and art therapies & rehab), I'd explore "use of self" through comparison with a placenta. A mother's placenta lets through what will nourish, while blocking what might be harmful to the fetus, even if it is harmless to the mother.

As therapists, we don't have a bodily organ for this function (nor does a mother after the birth). We have to decide as we interact what will nourish, what might harm, what is too early to introduce. This is a major function of a self-observing ego, watching over what we say. From asking a question to introducing a topic to self-disclosure, I need to be aware, to know that I'm saying this for the client's benefit, never my own. My needs have other venues to be met in; my time here is fully for the client.

Tony Vazquez more than 9 years ago

great metaphor

I'm a sucker for metaphors too, Tony. So much so, that I'm commenting here 7 years after the fact to let you know how much I appreciate this one. Great comment. Thanks.

Jennifer more than 2 years ago

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Great gift book for social work graduates!