Social workers regularly make high-risk, high-impact decisions: determining that a child has been abused; that an individual may take their own life; or that someone with a history of violence poses harm to another. In the course of this work, social workers are exposed to acute and prolonged workplace trauma and stress that may result in posttraumatic stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout. These effects not only impact practitioners, but also the decisions that social workers make and ultimately the quality of the services that they provide.
In this book, Cheryl Regehr explores the intersection between workplace stress, trauma exposure, and professional decision-making in social workers. She weaves together practice experience, research on the impact of stress and trauma on performance and decision-making in other high-risk professions including paramedics and police officers, and the empirical study of competence and decision-making in social work practice. Covering a wide range of research and theory, she surveys practical approaches to reducing stress and trauma exposure, mitigating their effects in social work practice, and improving decision-making. This book is critical reading for all social workers who engage in high-stakes decision-making, from those newly embarking on a career to expert practitioners.